AS PROMISED, this month I am sharing with you a simple but effective recipe to make your own bacon at home.

Bacon is the cured loin (back bacon) or belly (streaky bacon) of a pig and has been a traditional cottage food in Great Britain for hundreds of years.

Being a staple diet of European peasants since the 1600s, cures which usually consist of a mixture of salt, sugar, herbs and spices can either be rubbed onto the meat for a dry cure or mixed with water into a brine for a wet cure.

Modern mass-produced bacon is made differently today: instead of the traditional one-week cure of salt and spices it’s cured with injections of salt, sodium nitrate, ascorbic acid and potassium nitrate along with relatively large amounts of water which increase the weight and therefore increase the value.

This is why when you cook mass produced bacon the pan is usually flooded with water, which makes it difficult to get a nicely browned piece of bacon, and which I for one find acutely distressing!

Although traditionally cured bacon is widely available, it comes at a premium price that is well out of my budget, as I imagine it is with many other people’s.

So why not have a go at curing yourself and bring home the bacon, so to speak?

Funnily enough having used that term, I decided to conduct a little research into its origin.

The term ‘Bringing Home the Bacon’ refers to a 12th century church-related practice in the Essex town Great Dunmow.

The phrase meant that any man of the parish would be hugely respected by the congregation and given a side of bacon if they could swear before God that they had not fought or quarrelled with their wife for a year and a day.

This sounds too good to be true, but who knows? Apparently, this practice still continues today in Essex every four years!

Consumers often purchase bacon ready to cook at home, but the good news is bacon is unbelievably easy to make and your efforts will surpass any supermarkets finest range in taste and quality!

Once you taste your home cured bacon you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

You don’t need any special equipment and having fresh bacon in its unsliced form gives you more culinary options too as bacon can be used for lots more than breakfast or a sandwich; cut into lardons it can be used in stews or even salads and thick slabs can be served like a gammon steak in a variety of dishes.

History-wise, large-scale bacon curing in Britain dates back to the 1770s in Wiltshire where John Harris is credited as the first industrial producer.

Wiltshire is still a centre of bacon production today.

Interestingly, even our town holds itself in bacon history – in the 1840s Keighley was one of the country’s largest pig breeding centres, and in turn produced the Middle White breed which is the most successful commercial breed of pig to this day, ideal for bacon production.

The recipe I am sharing with you below is for a dry cured streaky bacon. It’s thoroughly worth the effort. Enjoy!