As you may remember from a few weeks ago, I recently made my own bacon for the first time. It’s a variant called Buckboard Bacon, made by curing and then smoking (in my case) a boneless pork loin. My plan all along was to can part of it and then to freeze part of it, too … trying to determine the best way to store it for long-term. However, it was so amazingly good that I finally had to just can the last two servings of it … to keep us from eating them! I’ll try freezing some out of the next batch. Maybe. We’ll see how it goes when we start eating it
Anyway, I canned the two pieces in wide-mouth pints, using the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s recommendations for Meat: Strips, Cubes, or Chunks, so 75 minutes for pints at my elevation. I only had two jars, so I filled out the rest of the canner with boiled peanuts … the same ones from my previous post! No sense in wasting all that heat, right?
Trust me! I’ll be decanting that bacon broth and putting it to good use when I open these jars. There’s only a small amount of it, but it’s definitely worth saving/using! That was the the pleasant surprise I got the first time I canned bacon strips–a process I’ll outline for you the next time I can some–when that wonderful, liquid essence of BACON just came pouring out of it as it processed. Sure, a little fat comes out, too … but, as you can see, it solidifies and separates from the amber bacon broth in the jar, making them easy to separate.
That same nectar flows out of bacon as you cook it, you know. The difference is … it hits the heated surface of your chosen cooking method–your frying pan, griddle, microwave, whatever–where it promptly boils away, sending the smell of bacon out into your drapes, carpet, and–of course–nose! Problem is, those odors are just basically aerosolized flavors: steam full of microscopic food particles … because it was made from liquid that was also full of microscopic food particles! And–I don’t know about you, but–I’d rather have that scent dancing across my willing tongue … not my nose. In other words, canning bacon has its perks. It collects that amber goodness so that I can use is later … without wasting a drop of it!
There are some downsides to canning it, too. When I decanted my Buckboard Bacon … I’ll admit … I was a little disappointed. Instead of that yummy, chewy fresh bacon I’ve been enjoying the last couple of weeks … the texture of the canned version was just amazingly soft! And I knew it was going to be soft … everything you pressure can is … but it was so soft that it just absolutely fell apart as I tried to slice it. It was at room temperature at the time, so I don’t know if refrigerating it might help me slice it easier/thinner … but it’s still going to fall apart as soon as it gets warm again, so that really won’t make that much difference overall.
Taste-wise, it was still very yummy … but being pressure canned for 75 minutes made it taste more like ham than bacon. That was also a small disappointment, but it was absolutely delicious ham … so I wasn’t *too* disappointed overall!
So the jury is still out on how I’m going to store my excess Buckboard Bacon long-term. I’ll try slicing and freezing some of the next batch, and freezing some as a chunk, too … just to try both options. Don’t get me wrong: the canned version is definitely edible, half-pints would be a good place to store the ends of batches, and the beauty of canning is … it halts the aging process instantly! Even if we ate off the batch for two weeks, and THEN canned it … it would forever live in stasis as two-week old bacon … until you start that aging process again by opening the jar for one last serving. However, I’m hoping I can keep some of my awesome fresh buckboard bacon texture and taste by choosing some other option for storage. We’ll see. The experiment continues