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It’s bacon week at Big Barn

This week at BigBarn we are talking about amazing, wonderful bacon. We can all imagine the smell of bacon cooking on a weekend morning – there’s something a little bit more unique about it this time of year if you get a lovely sunny morning with a bit of extra heat. One of the brilliant things about bacon is that it’s such a versatile product and it saves so many dishes from being painfully dry and boring. We’re thinking of things like pheasant or venison cooked with streaky bacon, a mince and bacon pie, devils on horseback and, of course, a good quiche. All rescued by one delicious product.

Happy pigs and chicks make great bacon & eggs

For those of you who like getting more involved with your food then it’s perfectly possible and quite easy to cure your bacon at home, and it’s very rewarding! All you need is a little patience, a belly of pork, some sugar, spices and saltpetre. All you have to do is place the belly in a bag with the sugar, spices and saltpetre leave in the fridge for a about a week. Make sure you turn it occasionally before drying. Once the curing is complete, rinse it off under some cold water and hang in a cool dry place (not your fridge) to dry for about 5 days. Then you’re done and can enjoy your beautiful homemade bacon!

One thing that people don’t always realise is that there are a huge varieties of pig breeds in the UK and each one comes with it’s own unique flavour. If we start with the famous KuneKune – which is actually native to New Zealand – is a fatty pig which is perfect for making sausages, where as the Tamworth pig is considerably larger in size and is a real winner for making bacon. We think that by buying local bacon and pork it not only encourages you to think about where your food comes from, but also helps maintain the different breeds of pig throughout the UK and supports local farmers and our local economy.

The way British farmers raise their pigs has undergone massive changes in recent years. Many farms have changed to free range piggeries rather then intensive farming. The animals are now getting a better life and in return we are getting better tasting and a far better product then before. The only thing which we’re struggling to convert is consumers who are reluctant to pay a few extra pennies to support a much better farming option.

Portion of Bacon and Eggs (selective focus; close-up shot)

We really need to keep challenging this perception, it’s important that people understand the true value of food and where it comes from, sometimes that means there’s also a price to be paid. Personally we would much rather pay more for a better quality product, but unfortunately that’s not possible for everyone and not all of us think like that or realise there’s difference. That’s why Danish bacon is sold in our supermarkets for far less then our own British bacon and consumers seem to love it because of the price. We need to raise awareness that Danish bacon is mainly reared in intense conditions and pumped with salty water to increase weight. This just adds another reason to push for locally produced meat and buying from your local butcher rather then the supermarkets. For a better future, better animal welfare and a far better product, it is worth it.

Bacon Connoisseurs Week is designed to help producers shout about their bacon and encourage you to ask questions about the bacon on sale. So please use the local food map to find your local bacon or browse Local Food MarketPlace to buy online.

If you have a favourite bacon recipe please make a video yourself and add it to our KIS (keep it Simple) Cookery video section to be in a prize draw as well as possibly be discovered as the next famous chef!

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