Let them eat sludge!
By Martin Isark
It makes my blood boil when that saline sludge starts oozing from bacon. Even supposedly good quality bacon! There may be an argument for the bargain basement range on the supermarket shelves, but not for bacon from the overpriced ‘farm shops’ and ‘farmer’s markets’, the traditional butchers and the expensive deli counters. Any retailer selling this style of bacon is simply saying – let them eat sludge!
At first glance it seems unbelievable that in ‘Foodie UK’ that people can be ‘palmed off’ with this sludge bacon! Unfortunately, for the shopper it’s almost impossible to tell from the packet or the butchers slab that the bacon when fried will be sludge free. The below may help a little, but at the moment there are few guarantees in the bacon world.
How much sludge?
Injecting a saline solution into the pork loin – lots of white sludge: The quickest and cheapest curing process, but it oozes lots of white sludge. Most bargain basement and medium priced bacon on the shelves are cured by this method.
Dry cured by tumbling – not as much white sludge as the saline solution method: Salt and pork loin are tumbled together (bit like a tumble drier) until cured – this normally takes a few hours. This process can affect the flavour quality of the cured bacon. My experience is that most still ooze some white sludge.
Wet cured – just a tad of white sludge: The pork loin is soaked in salt solution for a several days. The length of the time depends on the producer. The very best producers will soak for around two weeks. My experience is that most still ooze a tad of white sludge.
Dry cured by hand – little or No white sludge : The salt is rubbed into the pork loin by hand and left to cure naturally for around two weeks. The old fashioned traditional way of curing bacon - this style oozes fat rather than white sludge.
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Denhay Smoked West Country Dry Cured Back Bacon
This bacon delivers good old fashioned flavour without the white sludge. Want bacon like it used to taste? If the style fits – put a pack or two in the trolley. Tasted by Martin Isark. Available from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose & Denhay
ASDA Extra Special Unsmoked Dry Cured Bacon
This bacon delivers great flavour and is free of white sludge. Tasted by Martin Isark.
Helen Browning’s Organic Unsmoked Back Bacon
Very tasty bacon; but it does ooze a tad of white sludge at the beginning of the frying, but it’s hardly there at the finish. Well worth a try – if the style and price fits. Tasted by Martin Isark. Available from Sainsbury’s, Ocado & Helen Browning’s