I don’t know many people who don’t like bacon. They are out there in the world, somewhere, but I don’t know them. Here @ home…we love bacon. Unfortunately we don’t love the nitrites and other ingredients that make bacon what it is today.
Curing meat is a way of preserving it for long term. Salting and smoking allowed the perishable meat to be stored without spoiling and used later when fresh meat wasn’t readily available. While some people still cure their own meat for long term storage, commercial meats are cured with chemicals and mainly for taste rather than storage.
For me in my mind, it seemed rather absurd to purposely buy something like bacon in the grocery store that is loaded all sorts of who-knows-what to achieve that salty cured taste. It didn’t need to be stored, it was readily available…if we are only buying it for the taste, why take any chances? So we avoided it and other commercially cured foods like lunch meats. We started buying regular uncured meat and cutting it up for sandwiches, but totally avoided bacon. Until we came across something called fresh side pork…or fresh bacon.
Fresh side pork is uncured bacon. We get it from our local butcher shop. It is cut into slices just like bacon except that it is raw, uncured and unseasoned pork. And I cook it just like cured bacon except I season it with salt and pepper first. And it does taste like bacon except it has more pork flavor. It actually tastes much better than commercial cured bacon.
If you are raising your own meat, curing can make sense. If you have access to sides of beef and pork, it might make sense for you also. You might just enjoy smoking and curing your own meat. But for me, it just doesn’t make sense to ingest all the commercially cured meats just for the taste and convenience. If you get the opportunity, try some fresh side pork and you’ll see what I mean!