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.
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 ……
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.
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.
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!