I’ve just been making bacon using a big piece of belly pork and my own curing mixture. It will be a couple of weeks before I can eat it and am I looking forward to that first rasher! I’ve only made it once before and sometimes I make sausages as well. (Maybe I’ll blog about sausages another time.)
My Grandad was a farmer so my grandparents lived in a big old fashioned farmhouse. It had eight bedrooms and one could be reached by a trapdoor from the kitchen. It was known as the bacon bedroom because that’s where the sides of bacon were hung. Grandma also had long trestle tables for apples up there but it was the bacon which was most important.
They didn’t send pigs to market, as far as I can remember but they did keep a couple of pigs for home consumption. When I went to see the pigs I knew that I would be eating them a few months later and it never worried me. My Mother told me that Grandad was always very careful that pigs could only be killed when there were no children on the farm so the slaughter could be neither seen nor heard by young eyes and ears. (Friends have told me however that pig killing was an exciting entertainment in other places. I like my Grandad and his ways.)
My Mother used to go to the farm after the pig had been killed to help with the very considerable work which had to be done. Those were the days before domestic freezers so meat had to be preserved by salting or eaten fairly soon so pig killing was a time of feasting. There was pork, sausages, pigs fry (a Lincolnshire dish consisting of pork scraps, liver, kidneys covered by a caul and cooked in a rich gravy) pork pies. Everything bar the squeal could be used. The bacon was left to cure in a big wooden trough and there was a lot more than the couple of kilos I make! It had to last for the year so the quality of the cure had to be certain and it was left in the trough for quite a long time before being hung up to dry.
Mine won't be quite like Grandma used to make but with luck it will be well worth eating. I'll keep you posted.