Bacon or “bacoun” was a Middle English term used to refer to all pork in general. The term bacon comes from various Germanic and French dialects. It derives from the French bako, Old High German bakko, and Old Teutonic backe, all of which refer to the back. There are breeds of pigs particularly raised for bacon, notably the Yorkshire and Tamworth.
The phrase “bring home the bacon” comes from the 12th century when a church in Dunmow, England offered a side of bacon to any man who could swear before God and the congregation that he had not fought or quarreled with his wife for a year and a day. Any man that could “bring home the bacon” was highly respected in his community.
Bacon Throughout History
Roman Era: According to food historians, the Romans ate a type of bacon which they called petaso, which was essentially domesticated pig meat boiled with figs, then browned and seasoned with pepper sauce.
1600’s: Bacon, a relatively easy to produce and cheap meat source, becomes a staple for European peasants. Smoked Bacon is considered the highest quality.
1770’s: John Harris, an Englishman, is credited as the forefather of large scale industrial bacon manufacturing. He opened his company in Wiltshire, still considered the bacon capital of the world.
21st century: Bacon has become super popular, with mebsites, blogs, a Wikia (Hey! look at me!), t-shirts and a plethora of products all appreciating the goodness that is Bacon.
- Bacon is one of the oldest cuts of meat in history; dating back to 1500 BC.
- In the 16th Century, European peasants would proudly display the small amount of bacon they could afford.
- The Yorkshire and Tamworth pigs are bred specifically for bacon.
- 70% of all bacon in the US is eaten at breakfast time.
- More than 2 billion pounds of bacon is produced each year in the US.
- Until the first world war, bacon fat was the cooking fat of choice in most US households, when prepackaged pig lard became commonly available.
Bacon is a meat product prepared from a pig and usually cured. It is first cured using large quantities of salt, either in a brine or in a dry packing; the result is fresh bacon (also known as green bacon). Fresh bacon may then be further dried for weeks or months in cold air, or it may be boiled or smoked. Fresh and dried bacon is typically cooked before eating, often by frying. Boiled bacon is ready to eat, as is some smoked bacon, but may be cooked further before eating.
Bacon is prepared from several different cuts of meat. It is usually made from side and back cuts of pork, except in the United States and Canada, where it is most commonly prepared from pork belly (typically referred to as “streaky”, “fatty”, or “American style” outside of the US and Canada). The side cut has more meat and less fat than the belly. Bacon may be prepared from either of two distinct back cuts: fatback, which is almost pure fat, and pork loin, which is very lean. Bacon-cured pork loin is known as back bacon.
Bacon may be eaten smoked, boiled, fried, baked, or grilled and eaten on its own, as a side dish (particularly in breakfasts in North America) or used as a minor ingredient to flavour dishes (e.g., the Club sandwich). Bacon is also used for barding and larding roasts, especially game, including venison and pheasant. The word is derived from the Old High German bacho, meaning “buttock”, “ham” or “side of bacon”, and cognate with the Old French bacon.
In contrast to the practice in the United States, in continental Europe these cuts of the pig are usually not smoked, but are instead used primarily in cubes (lardons) as a cooking ingredient, valued both as a source of fat and for its flavour. In Italy, this product is called pancetta and is usually cooked in small cubes or thinly sliced as part of anantipasto.
Meat from other animals, such as beef, lamb, chicken, goat, or turkey, may also be cut, cured, or otherwise prepared to resemble bacon, and may even be referred to as “bacon”. Such use is common in areas with significant Jewish and Muslim populations, both of which prohibit the consumption of pigs. The USDA defines bacon as “the cured belly of a swine carcass”; other cuts and characteristics must be separately qualified (e.g., “smoked pork loin bacon”). For safety, bacon may be treated to preventtrichinosis, caused by Trichinella, a parasitic roundworm which can be destroyed by heating, freezing, drying, or smoking.
Bacon is distinguished from salt pork and ham by differences in the brine (or dry packing). Bacon brine has added curing ingredients, most notably sodium nitrite, and occasionally potassium nitrate (saltpeter); sodium ascorbate or erythorbate are added to accelerate curing and stabilise colour. Flavourings such as brown sugar or maple are used for some products. Sodium polyphosphates, such as sodium triphosphate, may be added to make the produce easier to slice and to reduce spattering when the bacon is pan-fried. Today, a brine for ham, but not bacon, includes a large amount of sugar. Historically, “ham” and “bacon” referred to different cuts of meat that were brined or packed identically, often together in the same barrel.
Bacon Butty – The King of Comfort Food
Text from Wikipedia