Birthdays and Bacon

Birthday cat2It was my birthday yesterday. Six years ago James got me Twickletoes Snowpea for my birthday and here she is, still the best birthday present ever!

I had a lovely day. We went out to Walberswick, had lunch at the Anchor and walked on the beach with the dogs. However, I like to do something new every birthday. Last year I made cheese for the first time ever. Actually this isn’t strictly true as I had made paneer before, but I made cheese for the first time using rennet. This led to me going on a two-day cheese-making course in January and deciding that one of my ambitions is to make and sell artisan ewe’s milk cheese from my own sheep. Well we now have the Jacobs and very excitingly we are borrowing a Jacob ram in a few weeks. This means we should be lambing sometime towards the end of April next year. I am still a long way off having a flock of sheep kept for milk, but lambing with the Jacobs is a start in the right direction.

Jacob ram that we are borrowing - he has four horns!

Jacob ram that we are borrowing – he has four horns!

Jacob ram and friend

So what did I do this birthday? Well I wanted to start my curing adventure. So I began the process of making bacon and pancetta and who knows where this will lead in a few years time ……

Bone in belly for streaky bacon

Bone in belly for streaky bacon

I have acquired quite a few curing and smoking books, but chose to use recipes from this book, this time Steven Lamb Curing and Smoking (138-142 and 145-147 respectively).

For the streaky bacon I took 2 x 2kg slabs of bone-in pork belly from our large black pigs. For the cure I used 1kg salt, 1kg brown sugar, 5 bayleaves sliced, 40 juniper berries crushed, 50g peppercorns ground. I mixed all the cure together and put a couple of handfuls in a food-grade plastic container. I added the two pieces of belly and rubbed cure into them. I used about a fifth of the cure in total and saved the rest. I put a lid on the box and as it was too big for the fridge I put it outside in the shed. I will pour off any liquid that accumulates every day and rub another fifth of the cure into the meat. In five days I will be able to take it from the cure and hang it up – more details then.

streaky bacon curing - day 1

streaky bacon curing – day 1

For the pancetta I used about 1.25kg of boned pork belly. For the cure I mixed together 65g salt, 25g ground peppercorns, 30g sugar, 6g crushed juniper berries, 2.5 g ground nutmeg, bit of thyme, couple of shredded bayleaves. I removed the skin from the belly and saved it to use as treats for my doggies. I might also put some in a stew as I love very slow cooked pig skin – yum yum. I spread half the mix in a ziplock bag. Added in the belly and spread the rest on top. I sealed it and put it in the fridge. It will stay there for 7.5 days before I hang it.

pancetta curing in a bag

pancetta curing in a bag

N.B. If you are wondering what was in the big presents behind Twinkle – it was two lights and a light box so I can take better pictures of my food when it is dark – now I just have to learn to use my camera!

14 responses to “Birthdays and Bacon

  1. Well, first Twinkletoes Snowpea is absolutely gorgeous! Secondly, you are an amazing culinary explorer. I envy your risk taking and excitement for all your new adventures. Third, I knew it was your birthday and though I did not get around to an official and timely birthday greeting to you, I did put my hair in pigtails and braid them in honor of you. It was fun wearing my hair like this and thinking of you all day. Much love, dear Claire, and many many more happy birthdays to come.

    • Thank you and lots of love to you too. Pigtails are the best. I forgot to put them in on Sunday and my hair was blowing all over the place on the beach. Twinkle is a little poppet. xx

  2. Ah, sorry to have missed your birthday – it sounds like you had a lovely day. I have missed being at the campsite, especially since the weather has been amazing most weekends. But, off course, I have had to work most of these lovely weekends or slept through them after work – grr! But tonight (Tues) is my last night for just over a week so hurrah – on the way asap!! Take care xx

    • I know …. it is very exciting. We are also killing the other two pigs on Monday so the bacon surprise might be a real surprise! Or we might just eat vegan. Can’t wait to see you all. xxx

  3. Happy birthday for yesterday – it would seem that Twinkletoes is making sure that you can’t possibly get a better pressie than her!

  4. Pingback: Home-made Streaky Bacon | smallholding dreams·

  5. Pingback: Home-made Pancetta | smallholding dreams·

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