In 2012 I became obsessed with food – or more to the point – what was in it! After my 4yo was diagnosed with her corn allergy, I realised what a minefield it would be cutting it out of her diet. She isn’t anaphylactic allergic, but is much more than a little bit sensitive. She reacts in various ways even if she only has a small amount. It’s a bizarre thing to witness and a complete exclusion diet was our only chance of her ever losing the intolerance. Suffice to say I did a lot of experimenting in my kitchen that year, and one of my successes was home made bacon. Once you’ve made it yourself it’s hard to go back to shop bought!
Corn derived ingredients are everywhere, but are never listed under allergy advice on food labels – hence why it’s such a minefield (check this out for further details). The only way to know with absolute certainty that she isn’t having any is for the whole family to have a corn-free diet, and make almost everything from scratch. There are a handful of pre-made staples that I buy, but in the main they are few and far between. One of these ingredients that crops up way too much for my liking is ascorbic acid, also labelled Vitamin C. It’s an antioxidant, and is found in almost all pre-packed supermarket meat and other fresh products as it makes them last longer. This is another reason that we buy most of our meat in bulk now.
One of her favourite things to eat – bacon – became a big no no. So I watched some online tutorials, quizzed the lovely ladies on the meat stall at my local farmers market about the best cut to use, and learned how to make it myself. I was disheartened at first, as following a recipe to the letter for batch one produced a very salty end result, plus I didn’t cut it thin enough. Batch two was ok, but it was third time lucky for me. After getting the salt/sugar ratio spot on, batch three was sheer food heaven. I sharpened my best kitchen knife and sliced it to perfection too. As you can probably tell I’m rather proud of this little achievement.
How to make home made bacon
500g piece of free range pork chap
4 tbsp crushed sea salt
4 tbsp unrefined dark muscovado sugar
– mix the salt and sugar together and put into a clean, sterilised, airtight jar
– wash the meat and dry thoroughly with kitchen paper then place in a large Tupperware box
– sprinkle a teaspoon of the salt and sugar over each side of the meat, then place in the fridge at an angle. This is to ensure the moisture released by the meat collects at the bottom of the box away from it
– 24 hours later drain the liquid from the bottom, and add another teaspoon of salt and sugar to each side of the meat
– repeat this for the next five days
– on the last day sharpen your big kitchen knife. Cut the very thick rind off the meat, then slice into thin strips (you can cook the rind separately)
– cook for a few mins on either side in a hot pan, and serve with other breakfast delights