Episode 37 – Bacon

KevinBacon, Charcuterie, Cooking w/ Fire, From Local Farms, From the Cellar, Nature's Green Acres, Pork, Smoking w/ Fire13 Comments

I’ve been writing about bacon for years now. As in, 6-7 years. I’ve made it umpteen times, yet there are always little refinements here and there to make in the process. You’d think I’d have run out of things to say about it too by now. Nope.

I feel like this episode should be rated ‘N’ for containing the evil ‘Nitrates’. But for all you nitrate haters, consider this: “the permissible amount of nitrate in comminuted meat products [sausages], is 1718 mg/kg.” The amounts of nitrates naturally inherent in vegetables are then quoted, again in mg/kg: “spinach, 1631. beetroot, 1211. lettuces, 1051. cabbages, 338. potatoes, 155…” The list goes on. I’m quoting the book ‘Meat Smoking and Smokehouse Design’ by respected charcuterie authors S., A., & R. Marianski. The authors then go on: “If one ate 1/4 lb smoked sausage, the ingoing nitrate would be 430ppm. That would probably account for less nitrates than a dinner served with potatoes and spinach.” 

That’s right. That box-store bagged spinach [which has a nasty history of carrying deadly pathogens, I’ll add], cooked into a nice lasagna, would very likely have far more nitrates in it than a healthy portion of bacon. There are many things to fear in the food world, but let moderate use of nitrates not be one of them. And lastly, let me say it for the record: bacon without nitrates is not bacon, it’s pork belly. If you’re smoking pork belly without nitrates to get a ‘pretend bacon’ or ‘nitrate-free bacon’, you’re missing the point that nitrates are present to avoid you having a intimate encounter with ‘Mr. Botulism’.

13 Comments on “Episode 37 – Bacon”

  1. Misty

    You are totally my new hero! I’m watching all of your vids with my almost 2 year old and we both love them. Thank you!

  2. Andrea Duke

    Love it!! Your blog ROCKS! What song is playing in the background of this video?


  3. adalynfarm

    Oh my word that is awesome! Love the bit in your post about nitrites in spinach. So cool to watch another father and daughter cooking. Cool too to think about how she is learning where her food comes from. (BTW your videographer is awesome, probably you and your other half? Either way keep shooting man.)

    Oh and I am so glad I let the video run to the end!!!!!

  4. Kevin

    Robin – she is pretty darn cute indeed.
    Misty – you’re welcome! Glad you like them!
    Sherri – :)
    Andrea – thanks. The song credits are near the end: The Latitudes: Bound to Be That Way
    Adam – yep, I’m director of photography. My wife runs the ‘B’ cam. Thanks for the feedback and support.

  5. Kevin

    Hi Bruce. Nope, they’re just eyeballed on butcher day. I weighed them before rolling camera, did the math prior. They were both different weights, different cure amounts.

  6. Raymond Richmond

    Thanks for touching on one of my favorite topics/rants. Nitrates are one of the biggest hoaxes in the commercial meat industry. Look at a pack of “Nitrate free” bacon in the store and more often than not you will find celery powder or some form of extract. The funny part is….. actually I will just let Michael Ruhlman tell it http://ruhlman.com/2011/05/the-no-nitrites-added-hoax/

    There are some known concerns with nitrates (infant sensitivity being the biggest) but who would feed an infant lots of bacon anyway? And Ruhlman mentions the other concerns quite well.

    Long live real charcuterie!

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