Updated date:

Make Your Own Bacon. Homemade Bacon Tastes Fantastic!

Photo credit: Poubelle.com

Photo credit: Poubelle.com

Today's supermarket bacon is OK. I mean, you can't go too far wrong with bacon; but to really know good bacon you either need to find a great artisan producer, or make your own.

Supermarket bacon is "wet cured" it is submerged in a vat of briny water and artificial smoke and other flavorings are added. Real bacon is dry cured, and exposed to real hardwood smoke. You won't believe how much better it is; and how easy it is to make your own bacon at home. It's one of those things that sounds really hard, and will sure impress people when you tell them they're eating your own home-cured bacon, but is actually really effortless!

You'll need to source a couple of ingredients, but they're probably both found at the same place; you're neighborhood butcher shop. Tell your butcher what you're planning to do, and ask for a piece of pork belly (make sure you don't get salt pork. You want fresh peork belly.). About 5 lbs is a pretty good place to start (don't make less than this or you will regret it later!) and also ask him or her for pink curing salt. Pink salt is a mixture about 6.5% sodium nitrite, and 93.5 percent kosher salt. It is called pink salt as it is dyed pink to prevent accidental use as regular salt. With these two items in hand, you're ready to get started.

Great homemade bacon recipe

  1. One 5lb slab of pork belly, rind removed. Ask your butcher to take of the rind.
  2. 1/4 cup of salt
  3. 1 tsp pink salt
  4. Generous half cup of maple syrup or honey. (You could also substitute a half cup of brown sugar if you prefer.

That's it, there are only three ingredients needed! Rub the pink salt all over both sides of the bacon and then slather on the salt andmaple syrup or honey as well, trying to get all exposed surfaces coated. Pop the pork belly into a large Ziploc bag, and keep it in the fridge for a week, turning every day. There will be some liquid accumulating in the bag; this is normal, don't remove it.

After a week, take the bacon out of the bag, wash off any salt that remains...and voila, you have bacon.

Now fry a little piece cut out from the center of the belly. It's bacon after all, so it should be salty; but if you think it is too salty, try soaking it in cold water for about an hour. This will leach out some of the salt. Repeat the tasting and if you still think it's too salty, give it another hour in a new batch of water.

You now have great tasting bacon that's ready to enjoy; and you can either now slice it up and watch how fast it disappears from your fridge, or get ready to take it the next level by hardwood smoking it.

The smoking stage will make this bacon even better, but you'll be amazed at how good the bacon already tastes. All the excess water has been removed through the dry curing; so the tastes are concentrated...and you'll never see your homemade bacon shrivel away to nothing in the frying pan.

Commercial bacon is pumped full of water, and when you cook it, all this water is released. Adding water is a great way to make more money when you're selling bacon by the pound, but not such a good way to make delicious bacon.

If you decide you want to smoke the bacon, you'll see that's its pretty easy as well. Take a look at my (link below) hub on smoking for easy to follow instructions...using a backyard BBQ!

There's a great thread on the cooking forum at E-Gullet all about charcuterie, so check out their link below if you want to learn more about home curing.

A great book on homemade bacon, sausages, hams, etc. is Michael Rhulman's Charcuterie. People are raving about this easy to follow text on all sorts of different charcuterie. It taught me a lot, and the bacon recipe above is loosely based on one from the book.


Mangala Dewan on August 26, 2016:

I am looking for the saltpeter or meat cure salt in Phuket for smoking a duck breast or ham but have not found yet. I went to drugstore in Phuket town but they says they dont know about it. Is anybody knows where to buy it here. Pls. I am desperate.

Cynthianne Neighbors on March 10, 2014:

Good article! I could not remember what part of the pig bacon came from. BTW...at one point you spelled "pork" like this: "peork". That is a typo, right?

DocBarrington on November 05, 2013:

Hi all, Istill live in Thailand and have been making Bacon fron Johns Recipe since my earlier posts and have got very good results, I still have not been able to locate a suplier of Sodium Nitrate or Nitrite, or the pink salt but did find Din Pra Siw at the Big Super Cheap Store in Phuket where I live, a long time back as mentioned in my earlier posts as well, unfortunately the store burnt to the ground a few a few weeks back. I have 1kg of large chrystal form of the chemical, my new Thai Girlfriend who speaks, reads and writes perfect English has looked up the name Din Pra Siw on the net a Google search in Thai found that it is either Sodium Nitrate or Saltpeter and does not mention if it is cut or pure but from what I gather it is pure commercial quality used maybe for fertaliser. I had her look up the company that produced it and they are in the chemical manufacturing business for fertalisers and fireworks so I think I am close, now need to get a phone number for the manufacturer to check what I actually have. I have used it for both Bacon, sausages, Pasterma, Panchetta and have had no ill efects and got great quality meat products as well. The main problem here in Thailand is that there seems to be too many wanting to use the stuff in the wrong way which makes it difficult to obtain for smallgoods manufacturing at home. If any one knows where to get the Chinese pink cure anywhere in Thailand or can get phone numbers etc it would be appreciated as I now want to start making fermented and smoked Salami. I will keep the post informed on what results I get and contact numbers etc if they are forthcoming.

Dave V on September 15, 2013:

Why put a YT video on the page, then make it Private?

Chris on August 23, 2013:

Do you need to add pink salt?

YNC on June 09, 2013:


This article has me hooked & everything sound tasty & easy (I luv meat). I would love to give it a try but as I'm a Malaysian, would somebody provide me info of how much to use of the ingredients for a 1kg of pork belly? After the curing process, do I need to slice it up & wrap it up in a bag to freeze it if not in use? Thank you.

BuddyL63 on November 29, 2012:

Thanks for the article. A note, sodium nitrate is also commonly known as Salt Peter. I use this method regularly. I built a large smoke house, about 6'x6' and have a burn box outside venting into the smoke house. The inside temp rarely reaches 90 degrees F and I smoke each run about 12 hours with "cold" hickory smoke. I raise my own, butcher my own and sure eat it. One tip, on the initial cure I use 1 cup salt, 1/2 cup white sugar And 1 tsp pink salt. Usually mix 6 cups salt 3 cups sugar and 6 tsp pink salt cause I do large batches. After that I add spices and brown sugar to the cure mix for the bacons daily rub. Thanks and good luck.

Li on May 27, 2012:

You can get pink salt and kosher salt in bulk, very reasonably priced at www.myspicesage.com

stormpebbles on May 08, 2012:

we made bacon in 30 hrs and it was surprisely really good , we did the following ,

made up a saturated salt solution with 5 litres of water and 2 teaspoons of "pink salt" added to it , injected the meat at least 100 times with this solution , then soaked it overnight in the brine (about 5 pound of wild pork)

the next morning ,we injected it again at least 100 times then poured off the brine,removed from the bone , then rubbed in dry salt honey and malt, then covered with dry salt , that evening we smoked it for about 6 hrs ..the colour wasn't as good as i would have liked , it would have had a much better look about it if the meat had been properly dry before smoking, but hang it tasted good and its all gone now, in less than 12 hrs

stormpebbles on May 07, 2012:

hi tyro ,

a cup is 250 mls, (millilitres) the weight of one cup of salt is 270 grams (thats the weight of normal household table salt)

Tyro on March 25, 2012:

Pllease, what volume or weight is a cup?.

Mitchell on March 17, 2012:

Oh yeah the ham and bacon is already sliced.. is that a problem? And also how long after the cure do you have to wait to eat. I guess what I am asking is can I thaw out, cure, and eat right away. Thanks

Mitchell on March 17, 2012:

How do I salt cure my ham and bacon after it is already frozen? Thanks

bacondaddy on March 12, 2012:

Holy Mother of G.O.D. I just wet cured me some pork loin over the last few days with a lil' maple syrup n honey and tonight I carved off a few slices to see how it went. Dang that's some fine bacon! Now it's time to get me a new smoker and get another batch working.

Claudia on March 04, 2012:

Hi, Noticed that in the recipe it says to use rindless pork, but the piece pictured in the smoker seems to be skin on?

why pink salt? on March 04, 2012:

If you're making bacon for your own use why do you need the preservative?

Kris on March 02, 2012:


Just stumbled across the site while I was looking for a slab of bacon to buy.....after reading all the posts, and doing a little more research, I have my own slab curing now! I am curing some mesquite bacon, and what I call fire bacon (cayenne pepper, and crushed red pepper mixed in with the salt rub) Anyways wanted to say thanks, I never knew how easy it was, and was tired of buying crappy grocery store bacon, or paying $15 a lb for really good bacon.

retrokick on February 24, 2012:

Hi guys,

I live in Thailand too and have done a little bacon curing. A friend had some pink salt but same as you guys I can't find it here. I'm interested in buying sodium nitrite and making a mix myself. My friend was a chemist by trade and would help me with that process.

Any ideas where I can get it from? I live in Northeast Thailand, Bangkok is fairly close but I don't know how to locate a supplier. Any ideas?

David M on February 13, 2012:

I tried the above recipe. I used a 3 lb pork belly from a local butcher. Great quality belly from a free range pig. I followed everything in the recipe except for the smoking part. How did it turn out? Horrible. It looked like a big slab of bacon but tasted disgusting. Not sure what went wrong but something obviously did. The amount of effort was not worth it and I will not be trying this again. I'm better off searching out local organic uncured bacon sources.

jfkaskdlfa; on January 27, 2012:

eh i love bacon too

Angela on January 26, 2012:

Thank You John

John D Lee (author) on January 19, 2012:

I am pretty cure most commercial bacon used smoke flavorings instead of actual smoke - but I haven't gone that route myself so can't comment on it too much.

John D Lee (author) on January 19, 2012:


Sodium nitrate is used for long dry cures, like for dry cured salami or for dry cured hams. the nitrate converts slowly to nitrite over the weeks and months of curing. For shorter curing periods, like for making a brine cured ham or for making bacon, you would want to go with sodium nitrite (6.75% sodium nitrite and 93.25% salt)

walkingthemoorlands on January 19, 2012:

found your site because I am searching for information on 'equalising' - still don't know what that means.

Anyway, our second ham leg has been curing in regular salt and sugar and is about to be cooked. Not a hint of nitrite, nitrate in it and this is the first time I've heard of pink salt. I went in search of saltpetre but our butcher (UK) said don't bother and confirmed the salt+brown sugar +herbs recipe my friend shared with us.

The first ham stayed mostly pink after cooking - but I did notice it browned off near the bone after it was exposed to the air following carving. This was disappointing to my 8 year who is inevitably expecting supermarket ham. Anyway we are still alive after the first ham so wish me luck with second! wish I'd read all this before I did the soaking.

I shall give some of the pork belly the maple treatment you suggest and turn it into bacon. Nice idea, thanks.

Angela on January 19, 2012:


I am from Kenya and wanted to try making my own bacon, the problem is that i can not find Pink salt and would therefore like to make my own. I have found several recipes that say different things, i.e One says to use sodium Nitrate for dry curing and other say to use Sodium Nitrite for wet curing, what is the difference, and how do they affect the taste and look of the bacon.

keith on January 07, 2012:

i was wondering if there are just seasoning to rub on your pork belly and would you use a hickory smoke liquid and rub all over if you want hickory smoke flavor?

Brent on December 15, 2011:

I read the ham and bacon with interest and are about to start playing with this, the smoking you talk about is it using a hot smoker which is what I have just brought

smokedog on December 11, 2011:

i use this same process and make bacon all the time. i have a little over 100 lbs curing now. you can use mortons tenderqiuk and it has the salt and Sodium nitrite mixed already. then you just add sugar and your other spices

steve on November 11, 2011:

Thanks John, I like to add some black pepper and brown sugar to the cure. Can't get good bacon here either and its over 10 bucks a lb. Have some hogs getting fat and can't wait to try this recipe.

pzbeez on October 10, 2011:

pasrami can be made the same way by using beef or venison and adding some pepper and garlic powder to the rub. Sodium nitrite is also known as saltpeter.

mary on October 01, 2011:

Very Interesting how to make bacon.. i am do own bacan..i use to make i make all salt n everything inside the water..mix it and put my pork in that salty water for 7 day...

Amy on September 29, 2011:

Well, this is interesting. Something that I have been wanting to do. We will be butchering two pigs tomorrow and so I will have to give this a go. What I do have that I might try on a 5lb piece is hickory smoke salt. I think that I will substitute 1/2 regular salt and hickory smoke. Here goes nothing!

Colleen - Australia on September 24, 2011:

Hi, We have been so disappointed with the quality of the bacon in recent years- its tough and tasteless and so we cant wait to try your bacon and ham recipes- they sound great ( and the sausage recipe from one of the readers) The comments are so interesting- just love this site!Thank you.Will let you know how they turn out.

John D Lee (author) on September 02, 2011:

Hi Sherrie,

Don't worry about it! Just put 5 of your packages together to make a 5lb total amount and use the recipe as it's listed above.

Just rub ingredients as evenly as you can on the individual pieces, and then put them in a big container or ziplock bag all together to cure. A lot of water will come out of the pork and this liquid will form a curing liquid that's going to really move around between the individual pieces as you flip the bacon over each day. This will make everything cure evenly, so you don't have to worry about that.

Or, just do 1 pound and divide the recipe by 5.

The total curing time might be a little bit faster though, as curing time is dictated mostly by how far the cure has to penetrate at the thickest point. Maybe check to see if it's ready to go a day or two sooner.

be careful but don't be scared.

Have fun!

Sherrie on September 01, 2011:

If I have bacon in +/- 1 lb. packages (we had a pig slaughtered and that's how the processor gave it to us). Is the a formula I can use to change the nitrate/salt amount?

Since these are separate packages, I'd need to divvy up to ingredients to rub each slab right? Then put them all in the same container after that?

Everyone talks about nitrate salt being dangerous if too much is used then no one gives amounts for various poundage. Sometimes there is just too much info on the web and it definitely gets VERY confusing; especially the 'scare tactics' now a days.

Goodness, how did our forefathers ever manage to stay alive.

John D Lee (author) on August 15, 2011:


The best method is with a meat slicer, but if you don't have one (as i don't) then the best thing to do is to get the cured belly very cold, almost frozen, and then just have at it with a very sharp chef's knife, cutting slices as thinly as you would like. It's a but of work but you can get a pretty nice result doing it by hand.

Best of luck!

John D Lee (author) on August 15, 2011:

Val - if you are going to hot smoke it then you do not need to worry about cooking it prior to smoking. Just smoke it at a low cooking temp (225f or so) until it reaches an acceptable internal temperature - like 155 or so. Usually a couple of hours in total.

John D Lee (author) on August 15, 2011:

Chris - yes, the 1 tsp of pink salt is enough. You don't need much.

John D Lee (author) on August 15, 2011:

Finely found - I would do jowl in the same way as you would do bacon. When I get whole pigs I sometimes even cure and smoke fatback in this same way.

I agree that the cure for sliced bacon should be much faster. I wouldn't worry too much about even cure penetration, as long as you make sure to turn the meat over regularly to keep it all in variable contact with the juices that accumulate.

Rich on August 15, 2011:

Mr. Lee,

I enjoyed reading about the curing and smoking process. I am going to try to find a pork belly this week. That shouldn't be too difficult here in Atlanta. My question is what is the best manner in which to cut the slab into uniform strips? I was viewing the forum on my phone, so I may have missed it.

val b on August 04, 2011:

hi john, going to try & do bacon. have pork belly thick end 1,06 kg which was wet cured at the butchers, I have been told it needs to be cooked before I smoke it is this right, How long do I smoke it,regards Val

chris on July 15, 2011:

is 1 tsp of pink salt enough?

finelyfound on July 14, 2011:

Hi, I have enjoyed reading your recipes and all of the comments. I have a free range Berkshire hog in my freezer and am currently curing a ham per your recipe. Unfortunately when they processed the hog they sliced the fresh belly. I just took 1.6lbs of the sliced belly and tied it with kitchen string, then rubbed on 3/8tsp of #1, 1/4c kosher salt (didn't mean to put that much on) and 1/3c of brown sugar. It is now sitting in my fridge in a plastic bag. So I'm curious, has anyone tried to cure sliced belly? I'm not sure how long to cure it since the penetration should be much faster with sliced meat. And this is the first time I've done a dry cure and using such a tiny bit of the #1 was difficult to rub evenly over the meat, how will this effect the cure?

Also, I have a beautiful hog jowl in the freezer. Any suggestions?? Now that I have read that the fattier meats might go rancid I'd like to do something with it soon.

Ryan K on April 13, 2011:

I have used your receipe 3 times now and Im hooked! I did try one modification though. I found wood chips made from oak whiskey barrels. Wow! Quite a bit smokier and the flavor is amazing!

Meow on April 06, 2011:

We dry cured using normal salt and hickory smoked our bacon. It was awesome. Eaten it twice now and haven't been poisoned.

As for pink salt - I can get it but I can't use it - as if I did, I wouldn't be able to eat my bacon as I am allergic to sodium nitrate. I would be quite happy to eat normal bacon if I could be it is all preserved with sodium nitrate or nitrites.

Kumar on April 02, 2011:

Just put my first 2.5 kg bag in the fridge.. got the salt from the butcher - he called it 'preserving salt' and said the process would take 2 to three days - I think he hangs his in his cool room. But the slab of belly is just about 2" thick so I will check after 3 days.

Many thanks for your site! Best regards, kumar

DocBarrington on March 22, 2011:

Hi John,

well the Dimprasiw seems to have been what I was told it was, I have tried two different styles of Cure, one was Honey, the other Honey and Dark Brown Sugar, the latter was left for three days longer than the Honey only one as we had to drive to Si Sa Ket from Phuket, I put both packets of curing meat in a cooler surrounded by plastic bottles full of frozen water for the trip, the Honey Cure was the first to be opened and was a hit with the Family in Si Sa Ket. The Honey/Sugar cure was the next to be opened, slightly more salt content and a bit sweeter than the first. The Family and I all agreed it was a better product so I made a second batch using the left over cure from both bags which I had frozen in case they wanted me to make some more Bacon while I was there, it worked a treat as well gave it 8 days, 1.5kg per sitting was devoured over two days 3kg was gone.

Now I am back in Phuket I have put another 3kg in the Cure and will construct a smoker to try it out after being properly smoked. While in Si Sa Ket we cooked it on a BBQ over a Charcoal fire, it was carefully cooked and watched all the time lifting it immediately if it flared up, and the Charcoal was dampered off with ash to stop the Flaring, the end result was a slightly smoked and pleasently sweet Pink coloured Bacon with a go back for moore taste.

I brought back some bits of old Teak wood to try for the smoker have you tried Teak or any local Hard Wood for the wood chips?

speak soon


John D Lee (author) on February 28, 2011:

Hi DocBarrington,

Well, it will be interesting to find out what you end up with. I am not familiar with din prasiw, so I can't really comment on the likely percentage of nitrite within. When I was looking for curing salts a few years back, the guy who was selling them told me he couldn't make them at stronger than about 1% due to regulations - but really - who knows?!?

In any case, assuming that it's 100% first before you're sure otherwise sounds like the safest course of action. Please let me know how you make out with it!


DocBarrington on February 24, 2011:

Hi John,

My Thai wife found some Din Prasiw for me. She was cautioned by the guy who served her and he did mention making explosives, and too much is poison. The problem is as with most Thai packets there is no information on the purity, or a contact number for the company who made it to ask the question. The Packet does have a manufacturers name on the label and Din Prasiw both in Thai Script. My wife told me the nane of the company but I cannot decipher it from what she said and she cannot write it in English so stale mate again.

The crystals in the packet are quite large and look like big salt crystals, when you say the Thai Govt capped the maximum allowable percentage at 1% do you mean that Din Prasiw is like weak Pink Salt and might have only a 1% Sodium Nitrite 99% Salt mix. My Wife said it is 100% and not mix.

So I have made up some Pink salt using the recommended percentages 6.5%(in Grams)to 93.5%(in Grams) and ground them together in a large mortar until they were throughly mixed, and used 1 teaspoon to 5lb of Pork Belly, and it is in the fridge cureing. well we will soon know if it worked.

John D Lee (author) on February 23, 2011:

Hi Berry - the Swedish ham sounds interesting. I've never used salt peter, but that wet cure curing time sure is lengthy! Different stuff!

DocBarrington - The story I got years ago when I was searching food markets for nitrites was that the Thai govt capped the maximum allowable sodium nitrite percentage at like 1% or so - so you'd have to use more...but you might also not know how much is really in there, which is kind of scary and so you wouldn't really know how much more to use.

Because of this, i decided to make my own, which is why I checked out some laboratory supply stores, and it seems pretty easy to find Sodium nitrite here, although it is 100% pure and you need to be careful.

I put mine in solution, so 6.75% sodium nitrite and 93.25% water, and then use this as an equivalent to pink salt in recipes - so if a recipe calls for 2 Tsps of pink salt, I use 2 tsps of my diluted in water mixture of sodium nitrite.

DocBarrington on February 23, 2011:

Hi John,

thanks for the quick reply.

I have read that "Din Prasiw" is the Thai name for the (Sodium) Nitrate/Nitrite family. (?????????).

It an be found in local markets and is used for making Naem. (The many different versions of the red fermented pork you find in Plastic Sausage Skins). Apparently you have to experiment with it because you may never really be sure whether it is nitrate (good for dry curing) or nitrite (submersion curing).

Do you have any information on "Din Prasiw", can it actually be either Nitrate or Nitrite?


Berry on February 21, 2011:

Okay, I looked it up. One site says that sodium nitrate and nitrite have mostly replaced potassium nitrate (saltpeter) because they are more reliable in preventing bacterial infections, but that potassium nitrate is still widely used in making charcuterie and corned beef. I have only used salt peter/petre to make my Swedish hams. The recipe calls for letting the pork sit in the brine for 6 weeks. I couldn't afford a crock, but found a big heavy glass jar with a lid. I have found that 4 weeks results in a wonderful roast that is a cross between a pork roast and a ham. really spectacularly delicious. Nothing like it that you can buy. It's like the difference between a store-bought and tree-ripened nectarine. The full 6 weeks is more ham-like, still incredibly good, so much better than store bought ham, which I like, too!

Berry on February 21, 2011:

I keep seeing salt peter here refered to as sodium nitrate, but isn't it potassium nitrate?

Berry on February 21, 2011:

This is a great site. I made a Swedish ham for Christmas in 2001. The recipe I had always used calls for salt peter, and it was so tough to find back then because every drug store I called thought I wanted to make a bomb. I finally found a big jar for $1.98. I only use 3 TBL at a time. Do you know if loses potency after a while? This site has me excited to make bacon, Canadian bacon, and smoke everything in site also. I'm thinking next time I go fishing I will catch more than I want for dinner so I can smoke some also. I love smoked salmon, so trout or walleye will be great too, correct?

John D Lee (author) on February 21, 2011:

Hey DocBarrington,

I get my sodium nitrite at a chemical supply store here in Chiang Mai and I'd bet you'd find the same thing in a chemical store down on the island. Be careful though, what you get is likely going to be 100% pure, and needs to be diluted down to 6%ish to work safely.

DocBarrington on February 18, 2011:

Hi John,

I am also in Thailand in Phuket, any suggestion where to get Sodium Nitrate in Phuket?

Great Site


Chris from New Zealand on January 28, 2011:

In reply to M and for the rest of you, the following is a quote from Harold Webster's book "The Venison Sausage Cookbook", " The ancient Greeks & Romans used only salt to preserve their meat. But the Natural salt they used was dug out of the salt mines at Salinae, Italy and contained impurities. One of these impurities was sodium nitrate." So the modern use of "pink salt" or "prague powder" mentioned above is not!!! a new thing and certainly not just modern science. AS an ex chef who has also had the unfortunate experience of having had food poisoning(not from my own cooking but from a well know fast food outlet), i would not want to risk making bacon or ham or salami without it. I'm about to make some salamis from our own pork, some wild venison and some Thar(himilayan mountain goat) and i'll be using prague powder. When our next lot of piggies are ready i'm going to give the bacon cure from this site a go as it sounds great. The only thing i have not yet found is a recipe for Rookwurst sausage which i love. I'll post a comment on the salami soon, and then the bacon in about 4 months.

Great site!!


Doug on January 26, 2011:

Just finished off my first bacon using the recipe provided here. It works great! Just had my first slab of it an was amazed how good it tastes. Now I'm going to smoke some of it to give that a try.

snowman51 on January 25, 2011:

pink salt vs salt.

Pink salt, the nitrates that cure meat, dissipate almost completely and do not have any known adverse health effects on humans when used properly.

On the other hand, Salt, a chemical, has serious health effects, especially on people with heart conditions. In addition botulism is fatal, pink salt is not. I suspect that salt is a much more serious health consideration than any cure. Yet I love salt and continue to consume vast quantities of it.

I do not like carrying on but if any amateur bacon maker reads your response and thinks he can safely make and smoke bacon without a "cure" it is dangerously misleading. Any newbies please take the time to read the referenced book and look up the current USDA recommendations on making and smoking bacon and decide for yourself. Being fully informed is necessary when dealing with any processed food product.

snowman561 on January 25, 2011:

pink salt vs salt.

Pink salt, the nitrates that cure meat, dissipate almost completely and do not have any known adverse health effects on humans when used properly.

On the other hand, Salt, a chemical, has serious health effects, especially on people with heart conditions. In addition botulism is fatal, pink salt is not. I suspect that salt is a much more serious health consideration than any cure. Yet I love salt and continue to consume vast quantities of it.

I do not like carrying on but if any amateur bacon maker reads your response and thinks he can safely make and smoke bacon without a "cure" it is dangerously misleading. Any newbies please take the time to read the referenced book and look up the current USDA recommendations on making and smoking bacon and decide for yourself. Being fully informed is necessary when dealing with any processed food product.

notastump on January 24, 2011:

pinksalt,prussian-salt and cure-salt is all the same. not good for you. ive been preserving meat for decades now and never lost a morsel of meat by strictly using kosher salt. any and all salts will prevent botchulism if they are used properly,who cares if your bacon isn't pink? why would you add chemicals to an organicly raised hog,sounds kind of dumb to me.

John D Lee (author) on January 23, 2011:

Thanks very much for the contributions everyone - it's awesome to hear what others are doing on the quest for insanely good home cured bacon. I myself just ran out and am waiting for my next pig to get delivered so I can make up a new batch. This last batch I made was the first I'd ever done using an organic heirloom breed of pig (moishan/duroc breed) and I have to say that the extra taste form the pork really shines in the finished bacon.

Malisaw on January 21, 2011:

I use Mortons tenderquick and brown sugar at 1Tbl each per pound - seal in 2 Gallon Ziplock bags - turn over and massage every day (or every other day)...leave liquid that accumulates in the bag until the end... 7-10 days for 5-6lb slabs. Remove from bag, rinse...ice water soak for 30 minutes - bag in fridge, not wrapped...open air for 24 hours so pellicle can form. Now..your question - COLD smoke it for 10 hours using the A-MAZE-N-SMOKER. Sweet little gadget that's like a little mesh maze (minutes 6x8 inches) - fill with their sawdust and light it in your grill, under a cardboard box - whatever... won't generate heat so you get a cold smoke for roughly 10 hours. Now that's some bacon that will ruin you ever buying it at the store again!! The little maze thing - I'd recommend the package that comes with a pound of sawdust (I ordered an additional 5 lbs of a different flavor) - and you get a butane torch to light it. You love smoking cheese, nuts, etc as well. Ohh and cold smoking salmon!!! 8 hours with oak, 8 with apple then 8 with cherry, perfection!

snowman51 on January 13, 2011:

Here is a comment from an expert on sausage and meats Rytek Kutas "if it can't be cured don't smoke it". Cure means using pink salt or Instacure or sodium nitrate and or sodium nitrite.

Before you kill yourself and or your loved ones making bacon, ham, or sausage at home I suggest reading "Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing" by Rytek Kutas.

Your ancestors used salt peter (not a good idea anymore) or salt contaminated with a nitrate that they did not know about. My father, grandfather...back at least 11 generations, about year 1600, used salt peter, for sure. They were farmers and knew what they were doing when they made smoked meats.

Uncured bacon in your supermarket is a LIE. Check the label and you will see it contains celery which may have more nitrites in it than pink salt! Bacon is NOT bacon until it is cured.

The use of the word CURE means that nitric oxide was generated by some means and just salt doesn't cut it unless its dirty salt with the right impurities in it.

When the meat cures almost all or all of the nitrates are used up in the process.

Without the NATURAL nitrates in our stomachs we would likely die of botulism poisoning made by our own stomachs.

Back to the subject Dry curing bacon. I would like to know what kind of container is used today. Is it warped and sealed in a plastic baggie or must it be open to the air in the frig during the 7 to 10 day curing process (1 day per pound)? Do you wash the bacon and then let it set for another 2 days for salt equalization?

Bacon must be very dry for smoke to adhere properly. How do you dry it? I don't have a temp controlled smokehouse to dry it at 128 degrees F which is the specified way to dry it. Is a low temp dehydrator to hot?

Smoking- anyone used liquid smoke in a smokehouse? I mean hanging the bacon like normal but instead of wood chips spray liquid smoke on the hot plate (not the bacon) to make very pure and instant smoke. I tried it without the bacon and it makes smoke very well, but how much and how long to smoke the bacon?

My recipe is to use Morton sugar cure (similar to instacure 1 and 2 with sugar and salt mixed) and 2 cups of honey. Place in sealed bag for 1 day per pound at 35 to 40 degrees F, remove and rinse slab, return to frig for 2 days. Is bacon now. So how to add smoke? I guess the simple way is to dry and spray with liquid smoke, but I like "natural" actual smoke better.

John D Lee (author) on December 28, 2010:

Hey Bbud - thanks a lot for the info!

David, here's a link to the info that you need on the time it takes for botulism toxin to develop - it depends primarily on storage temp. http://www.vitsab.info/Skinner%20and%20Larkin.pdf

david k on December 06, 2010:

I was wondering if i could forgo the pink salt as long as the slab is eaten within a day or two of taking it out of the dry cure

bbudd on December 04, 2010:

Hi from thailand-on smokeing-i have successfully used longon,lynchi,lamyai,soursop(kanoon/lian)and avacado in the smoker.These work well on bacon-ham and sausage as well as on the plaboock(thai catfish)

Going to try gop tah wood(-with the small red fruit that the birds here love) next-will tell you how that turns out.Its real sweet wood.

John D Lee (author) on October 25, 2010:

Hi Scott,

There is a pretty good margin of safety in the recipe above, so adding in a little bit more probably won't make much difference (depending on how much!)

By my calculation, to kill a 50kg human, the lowest possible amount of pure sodium nitrite needed would be about 3.5 grams (check my math here before you do anything crazy!!!)(http://msds.chem.ox.ac.uk/SO/sodium_nitrite.html)

Since pink salt is at about 7% concentration, this equates to about 50 grams of pink salt consumed presumably in a single sitting.

The recipe above calls for 5 grams and makes 5 lbs of bacon, which would probably make about 20 servings, conservatively. So in theory, you'd have to eat about 200 servings of bacon in a sitting as prepared above to have anything to worry about if following the recipe as directed.


In any case, for peace of mind, and for safety, I really think anyone who wants to do curing meat should take 10 or 20 minutes to read up on the chemicals used, and understand how to use them safely - understand for yourself and understand that I am hardly a doctor, scientist or chemist...just a cook who likes bacon!!!

Regarding the thickness issue:

Yes, the thickness of the slab makes all the difference - and as thin as your was I'd bet it would be done in 2 or 3 days. To check, slice a little chunk out of the center of the bacon, and if it's pink throughout after frying it up, then the cure has penetrated completely. If it's still gray in the center, then it still needs more time.

j. dobbins on October 22, 2010:

read the book foxfire. it tells how people in the mountians of the old south cured pork. very good info.

Scott Chevalley on October 18, 2010:

I'm trying the above recipe for making bacon but have a few questions. First I accidentally used more of the pink salt than it calls for above, so is that a problem and second, does the thickness of the pork belly have any effect on the curing time. The pork belly I got is much thinner than I expected, around 1/2" thick. I've found a better source with thicker bellies but want to see how this one comes out first. It's been curing for going on 5 days now. Thanks!

John D Lee (author) on October 11, 2010:

Marty - pink salt is salt which has a small amount of sodium nitrite mixed in. This salt protects against botulism and will turn bacon pink after cooking

Mike - I find that when I make any kind of sweeter homemade bacon I have to be pretty careful when frying it up - easy to burn - but the taste is worth the extra attention needed at cooking time

Mike on October 08, 2010:

The firsttime I made homemade bacon I learned a valuable lesson and that's to rinse the cure off really well.

It tasted a little on the salty side but turned very dark, almost black when I fried it up because the sugar from the maple syrup was still in the meat. I still ate it :] My next project will be some buckboard bacon.


Marty on October 03, 2010:

John how are you? I am great thank you.

What is the difference to pink salt and white salt? I am want to make my own bacon but what the different salt?

I like backfat and pig paws smoked with rose petals.

John D Lee (author) on September 20, 2010:

Tom, thanks very much for posting to let me know - I love a bacon success story!

Tom on September 19, 2010:

This is so Cool I did the bacon All I can say is WOW it's the Best I will never buy store bacon again. The hardest part was finding a pork belly in southern california after that it was a breeze.I Smoked it and its So Good. All I can say is Thank you

John D Lee (author) on September 14, 2010:

Tina - thanks very much for letting my know and I'm so glad to hear you're enjoying your homemade bacon!

Kimberly K. When i refer to pink salt I am referring to salt which contains 6.75% sodium nitrite and which has been dyed pink to prevent accidental ingestion.

Kimberly K. on September 13, 2010:

I think when they say "pink salt" that they actually mean Himalayan crystal salt. It's the best and completely natural (ancient)! They now sell it at Trader Joe's with a built-in grinder or you can buy it on the internet.

Thanks for posting this recipe. My daughter is on the SCDiet and loves bacon, so this is something fun and easy to make on a rainy afternoon!

Tina on September 13, 2010:

Thank you John for the response & recipe.

We are now on our 3rd batch.

It has turned out really well. My toddler loves it.

We will be experimenting with smoking it soon I hope.

You have truly inspired us with your recipe!

John D Lee (author) on August 29, 2010:

You can certainly make bacon without adding nitrites, but if you do the bacon will not turn pink when cooked and you run a small risk of botulism.

Pickling salt is similar to kosher salt, so it's a reasonable choice for making bacon, but it won't do anything differently from kosher salt - it won't do what nitrites do.

Tina on August 13, 2010:

Thank you for this recipe. This is exactly what I have been looking for. I will be trying this recipe with honey. However, I'm also wanting to make this without the pink salt because I don't want to add artificial chemical preservatives into my homemade food. So...if anybody out there has made this recipe w/out pink salt I would love to hear about how it turned out.

Thank you!

Tina on August 11, 2010:

I'm interested in this recipe for my toddler who loves bacon can not have any nitrates or nitrites.

Can pickling salt be substituted for pink salt safely?

I saw a recipe for curing bacon using pickling salt but just not sure about it. Has anyone tried this successfully?

Thank you!

John D Lee (author) on July 07, 2010:

Guest - it is the salt that transforms the fresh meat into cured bacon, and so it is a necessary inrgedient in the process.

Ian in Thai - that's interesting, I'll have to get a translation for that and look into it. I have bought pure lab grade sodium nitrite at a chemical supply store here in CM and then diluted this to a 6.5% solution for my bacon making. If you're coming into Chiang Mai, stop by the Salsa Kitchen restaurant and I'll give you some of what i've got.

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on July 07, 2010:

You are truly a master chef. Wonderful Hub once again! You never let me down. Never knew - makes sense. What a wonderful idea. And your info on the salt is really helpful too.

Ian in Thai on July 07, 2010:

John D - sorry the Thai Language has defaulted to ????????? If you have email I can send you the text in Thai.

Ian in Thai on July 06, 2010:

John D,

Excellent Thread - I am about to try all of it! I have battled with the availability of Sodium Nitrite in Thailand for some time. At last I think I cracked it. Try your local market and ask for:

in Thai we call “Din Pra siw – ?????????”

I haven't found it yet, but off to CM at the weekend to have a look.



Guest on June 25, 2010:

What's the point of using so much salt when you're just going to wash it off after a week? Why can't you just slice the bacon and sprinkle the right amount of seasonings on it, and then put it in the ziploc bags in the fridge for a few days to absorb the spices?

John D Lee (author) on June 15, 2010:

Hi M,

You are right - nitrites are somewhat controversial and you can make bacon without them. I guess it's a personal choice issue about what types of risk you are comfortable with.

m on June 07, 2010:

You know they did not have "pink Salt" back in the day and the bacon turned out just fine.

Why use nasty preservatives that turn to cancer causing agents in the fresh meat? I never use or eat anything that has preservatives and it always turns out just fine.

John D Lee (author) on May 31, 2010:

Colin - I had to do likewise, as no one near me sells pink salt either. I found that mixing sodium nitrite in water to make a 6% solution worked pretty well. I was worried about mixing it with salt in case of uneven distribution.

John D Lee (author) on May 31, 2010:

Colin - I had to do likewise, as no one near me sells pink salt either. I found that mixing sodium nitrite in water to make a 6% solution worked pretty well. I was worried about mixing it with salt in case of uneven distribution.

Colin on May 31, 2010:

WOW, thanks for answering so quick. Will go to the chemist tomorrow and see if I can get hold of some sodium nitrite so that I can make up my own pink salt, no one around here can supply me me with pink salt.

Thanks again.


John D Lee (author) on May 30, 2010:

Hi Colin - I'd suspect that you could use saltpeter, but I don't know how much you'd need to use. The pink salt is pretty cheap - might be worth picking some up to make sure you get a good (and safe) end result?

Sharyn - is the meat frozen for long before you cure it? Because of its high fat content meat from the belly is a little more prone to going rancid and shouldn't be stored for too long.

Sharyn on May 30, 2010:

I have gotten 3 pigs butchered in the past year. All of the meat has been quite good except the bacon which has been cured. the first couple of days it's great, then it develepes a strong funny after taste. The bacon is frozen at the processing plant. Any ideas what this could be and what can I do to eliminate this taste?

Colin on May 30, 2010:

Hi John

You say that in the old days they used saltpeter. Batteling with pink salt, why can I not still use saltpeter? I've never tried anything like this before. I have a couple of pigs on a small holding, and can't wait to try this.



John D Lee (author) on May 20, 2010:

Hi Carolyn,

Unfortunately, botulism isn't always destroyed by cooking - which is why it's such a dangerous thing. Here's a link to the U Ga which explains the situation on botulism better than I can http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/nchfp/lit_re...

Carolyn on May 20, 2010:

Hi there, great looking recipe! I would love to try this without the pink salt, I was thinking of either exclusively kosher or sea salt non-iodized of course? Someone mentioned the risk of botulism but is this really going to be a risk if the bacon is smoked and then cooked? We like our bacon crisp, so wouldn't that eliminate the problem? We have tons of applewood here on our farm and a good smoker so we may try the maple mixed with apple wood smoking - I hope it will turn out well

John D Lee (author) on March 21, 2010:

Wendy, thanks for posting the composition of Kwikurit - I am sure that this will help someone in a similar position down the road!

Stumpy, when I say a week I mean a full 7 days.

Best of luck,


Stumpy on March 20, 2010:

When U say for a week? ..is that 5 days or 7 days? My friend says 5 days if your working and 7 days if your not working. Which is it?

Wendy on March 19, 2010:

Hi John,

I found that Kwikurit has 10.7% nitrite and 89.3% normal salt, so I'll have to figure it out and cut it back a bit.

John D Lee (author) on March 16, 2010:

Hi Marschell,

I have never tried vacuum sealing meat in a cure to accelerate the curing time - nor have I heard of this method, so I cannot offer any insights into its effectiveness.

Related Articles