Bacon Without Nitrites?

Yes it can be done, but by yourself. The bacon you find in the store contains nitrites in order to inhibit the formation of bacteria.

If you want to make your own, you start with your own piggy meat. The area around the rib cage (called the pork belly) is most commonly used, but contains a lot of pork fat. I don’t see the necessity in all that fat when all we want is flavour. Take a ham for instance…what’s the difference? Ham is preserved the same way..but without the fat.

Salt is a preservative too. If you soak the pork in a brine and then smoke it you can end up with a palatable product although not as red-looking as the store kind. The homemade kind won’t keep as well. It will have to be frozen or used quicker.


Hickory being used in my electric smoker.

Don’t be fooled by the use of salt-peter or curing salts which contain the mentioned nitrites if you don’t want them.

You have to play with the amount of time to brine and smoke to get the balance you want.  It’s a personal thing anyway.

Here’s some info that I would recommend from

[Thoroughly rinse and dry and then place your pork belly in a non-metal container large enough to accommodate it. My preferred curing vessel has a little tray in the bottom, which is useful because it keeps the belly out of the liquid that will be drawn out during the cure. If you have to cut it into two pieces, that’s quite alright just make sure none of your pieces are too small. Apply salt to both sides of the belly and rub it in. Kosher salt works perfectly for this (1/4 cup for 5 lbs.), as the grains of a traditional table salt are too fine, while those in sea salt are too coarse.

This is a really good time to be creative. You can try 1/2 a cup of pure maple syrup. Some molasses and mustard powder, perhaps? A more savory bacon can be made by adding a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and black peppercorns and crushed garlic to the mix. Play around a little. Developing your own cures for specific purposes can be a lot of fun.

Put it in the fridge for 24 hours, drain and remove the liquid and a couple more pinches of salt and refrigerate again for 24 hours. Repeat again for at least 3 days and up to 5 days- experimenting with the time and the end result.

Smoke the bacon with hickory or walnut wood at 200 degrees until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 150. (This usually takes about 3 hours, your results may vary.)  If you like less smoke, simply wrap the bacon in aluminum foil for some of the smoking process.


Homemade bacon

If you don’t have access to a smoker, you can certainly rig one up with a ceramic pot and a hot plate, or you can cook the bacon in your oven. I would suggest braising it in a foil pouch in the presence of a cup or so of liquid in a 200 degree oven until the bacon reaches the desired temperature of 150. The addition of liquid smoke to the braising liquid will give the bacon a similar smoky flavor, but it won’t be close to the results you can achieve in a smoker.]



Now, regarding the 50-50 bacon I mentioned that I like to make…where you cook the bacon with 50% of other ground meat:

Anna-Marie says she can’t use beef burger for the recipe. Pork hamburger would work if it was super-lean. Chicken would be somewhat tough and stringy. Buffalo would work perfectly. Lamb would be ok, I’d think, if it was ground first, but don’t include the tallow.


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6 Responses to “Bacon Without Nitrites?”

  1. Anna-Marie White says:

    I can probably do the ground beef if I were to grind it myself. I dont know whats in commercial ground beef, but I haven’t been able to eat it for a decade.
    I really enjoyed this post, and would love to try making my own bacon. I dont really know where to start though in learning how to do meat smoking.

    • sherry says:

      You could do it in your oven if you don’t mind smelling like the heavenly scent of say…hickory smoke. Do you want to cure it or brine it with salt? If so you could brine it for a few days in the fridge and/or just make a smudge in a tray in your 200F oven for 5 hours. The hard part would making a smudge and not a fire. Briguettes with chunks of hardwood? Better yet – use a BBQ the same way. If you don’t cure it remember it won’t keep as well. I’m thinking you’d need 2 tablepoons of regular salt (not cure) per 5 lb. piece. What’s there to lose?

      • I have nothing against salt. The hotel might have something against the smoke however. I want to do a bit of smoking when I have Travel trailer ready to live in. I need something that is compact and lightweight since my space is limited.

        • sherry says:

          I guess you don’t have a BBQ? Oh and you can ask a private butcher to do some stuff for you, but they hate samll quantities :(

          • I have a gas grill and a rotisserie grill.

            • sherry says:

              So you could make a smudge in them, outside or on a balcony. anyway…if you have problems commenting…I’ve reset things because some are having trouble. I don’t know what wordpress is up to??? I know if you leave more than 2 links in a message it will go to the spam pile.


What do you think?