Bacon is made by curing the meat from the back or side of a pig. There are two main kinds – dry cure and wet cure. Dry-cured bacon has been rubbed with a mixture of salt and sugar, which produces a drier finish and a fuller, more pronounced-flavour. Wet-cured bacon is immersed in or injected with brine (a salt and water solution), which penetrates the meat faster than a dry cure. There’s also Tendersweet bacon, the result of a milder curing process using sugar.
Bacon curing can take from a few days to several months; then it can either be left as it is – ‘green’ bacon – or smoked. Bacon can be sold with or without the rind, and thin or thickly cut. Choose between meatier, leaner back bacon rashers or thinner streaky bacon, which contains more fat but also crisps up beautifully when fried or grilled. Middle bacon is larger slices of bacon, made up of both the loin and the belly.
Pink, damp bacon with white fat. Bacon should have no smell. Avoid bacon which is slimy or has any discolouration.
In the fridge for up to 1 week once opened. Bacon can be frozen but should be used within 1 month or the flavour will deteriorate.
The healthiest way to cook bacon is to grill or bake it so that the fat runs off. If frying it, use a non-stick pan and little or no fat. Cook until crisp and golden, turning halfway; this should take no more than 2–3 minutes, serve as an avocado and bacon salad. It is also delicious the family favourite toad in the hole.