Saturday, 5 March 2016

Bacon- Brining and Smoking- 2016

The last bits of the pork processing have been completed with our bacon now wrapped and in the freezer.
I really am running very behind with my blog journal as this all happened last Saturday and Sunday.

The hocks and bones that we brined for a week and then smoked last weekend.

We will eat the bacon packed in plastic bags first. The vacuum sealed packs of bacon will keep much longer without getting that freezer taint that sometimes happens after freezing for too long. We expect all of this to last right through until pig processing time at this time next year.
The purchase of the second hand meat slicer has been a great bonus. We sliced the bacon as soon as it had cooled after being in the smoker for twenty four hours. Packed into meal size portions and into the freezer.

Our smoker that Brian built from scrounged objects patched together. The smoking sawdust is in the small metal cabinet on the side. This means he need not open the main smoking chamber every time the sawdust needs replenishing.

Charcoal and fine oak shavings smoking slowly in the metal cabinet with a hole into the smoking chamber.

The metal flue from the smoking fire box (metal cabinet) allows smoke to flow into the smoking chamber where the brined bones and pork bellies are on metal racks for even smoking.
The bacon needs to be smoked slowly, the temperature of the smoking chamber should be no hotter than 40C. Brian got the oak shavings burning early so the bacon and bones went in at 7am Saturday morning. He checked and replenished the shavings every 2 hours all through the day and all night until it was ready at 7am Sunday morning.
See the details of making nitrate free brine and smoking bacon in a blog I wrote last year. I have amended the amount of salt this year by cutting back by a cup, and we think it tastes perfect for our taste. The recipe you will see there is the new amended salt measurement.

As the shavings were still smouldering I unwrapped a cheddar that I had made in October and left it in the smoker for four hours. After cooling, I vacuum sealed it again and we will try it after two weeks.
Well, Summer has returned with a vengeance and we expect a week or more of temps above 35C. One consolation is that the nights are cool.  I'm trying to stay positive, as like many, we're looking forward to autumn and winter for so many reasons.  I figure that if the weather is all that we can complain about, then we are not too badly off are we?
Regardless of the weather, life has to go on and farming jobs need to be done.
Brian processed eleven roosters for the table this morning. There are still more there to be done, but I was concerned there was not enough space in the freezers. They are four months old and are all around 3kg dressed. Big birds!
To conserve some space and pack them in tighter, I jointed six of them into packs of; chicken breasts, leg and thigh pieces, wings, and the frames for soup and stock.
We ate a roasted chicken tonight. Cooked outside in the old Weber barbecue in the "Le Chasseur" heavy enameled cast iron pot with a few spuds thrown in and a salad on the side. Simple and delicious with left overs for lunch tomorrow.
There are four hogget (lamb that has lost its first lamb's teeth, approx 1yr old, also called "two tooth") remaining from last year's lambing which are being butchered tomorrow morning. Early, because the forecast is for 39C..!!! They will hang in our refrigerated cool room for a week before we process them into roasts and chops next weekend, and will then be traded and shared among friends and family. I think I have space in our freezers for half of one, but of course I'll be doing my best to squeeze as much as I can in there.
Our meat variety in the freezers at this point in time are, lots of pork and bacon to see us through for the coming 12 months, a small bit of beef from the last beef we killed approximately six months ago, approximately ten chickens, some pigeons that Brian processed two weeks ago, approximately half of a mutton and a small bit of hogget. A friend brought us a Snapper and some Whiting fillets a couple of weeks ago that I traded for some dairy products, which is a welcome seafood treat for a couple of meals.
The vegetable gardens are still supplying us with abundant food, so I'm not buying anything much at all lately except tea, coffee, flour, and some organic wheat grains for milling in the stone grinder to make our sourdough bread.
So that brings me to getting back to the kitchen to feed the starter so I can bake a loaf tomorrow morning. 
Wishing you light and peace, with a measure of happiness and contentment in there too.
Until next time,


  1. Sally, the variety of food you produce is amazing. Here's hoping we too can produce a wonderful amount of food in the future. Although our plans for beef have fallen by the wayside, one of our rescue calves died over the weekend. He hadn't been well for some time, as we think he had missed out on the colostrum feed when he was born. We live and learn in this life.

    1. Sorry to hear you lost a calf Cathy. They can be tricky to rear as most of them are deprived of their colostrum. If possible, keep some colostrum in the freezer from one of your milkers, to have on hand when you bring in a new calf. A blog post about rearing calves is in the pipeline as there are so many remedies to share amongst we calf rearing folks.

  2. That bacon looks totally delicious, as did your pork cuts in an earlier post. I really struggle to find ‘decent’ meat at the ‘normal’ shops, by which I mean with some flavour and not tough…..Too much to ask, apparently :[ Also, everyone seems to be paranoid about FAT which, of course, brings us back to flavour and texture…. It drives me nuts!! If I can, I get the butcher to prepare my cuts while I am standing there and can say “pleeeeease leave the skin and/or fat on”. BTW, I really enjoy reading your inspiring posts. Regards Jane.

    1. Jane, I'm always inspired by the "Nourishing Traditions" way of eating. It seems to suit us and our lifestyle, so yes, fat (good fats) is definitely on our agenda. It's difficult to find meat that has been grown well, using no chemicals and with kindness to the animals. I think I'd probably eat much less meat, if any, if we didn't grow and kill our own. Thanks for leaving a comment. :)

  3. I think I'll be referring back to this post in the future, we were only talking yesterday about building a smoking cabinet to do our own bacon and gammon in the future.


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