Why is bacon so salty, you might wonder? This delicious piece of meat is so salty because of the manufacturing process, whereby it is brined or dry-packed in salt and nitrates. The process reduces moisture in the bacon, making it a not-so-habitable environment for bacteria.
After the curing process, bacon is smoked to preserve the meat and take its flavor a notch higher. Note that different manufacturers, however, use different techniques. Some might consider smoking the bacon strip, and others won’t. Because of the low moisture content in bacon, the strips cook fast and crisp well when cooked under high temperatures. The salt in the bacon is maintained even after cooking.
This article will enlighten you on why bacon is so salty and how you can reduce it before consuming the meat.
Here is best bacon to buy
There is no denying that bacon is the most delicious meat in the world. Many people consider it to be the most popular of all meats. There are many ways to prepare bacon and one of them is cooking it over an open fire, but there are other ways to cook it as well.
Why Is Bacon So Salty Naturally ?
Bacon is a product of pork, but raw pork is not as salty as bacon. Raw pork has a slight saltiness, enough to be noticed when tasted. The bacon’s saltiness comes by after it’s cured and smoked. The bacon strip is soaked in a brine of salt, nitrates, and sugar, then smoked to give the bacon a distinct flavor. In most cases, some spices are added to the brine to add flavor to your bacon.
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Difference Between Salt Pork And Bacon
Salt pork (also known as ham)and bacon look just the same. Both are also products from pig meat. That, however, doesn’t mean they are the same thing. The major difference is the brine used in their curing process. Hams brine has a higher sugar concentration compared to bacon brine.
So here is what distinguishes salt pork from bacon.
The Preparation Process
Bacon is available when raw. It should be boiled first and before consuming. Salt pork can be consumed without boiling first. This is because it is usually precooked and has a slight salt flavor. You can eat it as you prepare for preservation. Eating bacon that has not been boiled thoroughly can cause parasitic infections.
The Distribution of Fat
Salt pork is cut from the pork side, and it has higher fat distribution than bacon.
The composition of salt used in curing salted pork and bacon is different. Bacon is dipped in a solution of sodium nitrite, sodium ascorbate, brown sugar, or spices. The sugar concentration of salt pork is higher. The curing process of salt pork also takes longer, and unlike bacon, salt pork is not smoked.
In terms of popularity, salt pork has hit the airwaves more compared to bacon. This could be because many people do not understand that salt pork and bacon are not the same things.
These two meat pieces are incorporated into different recipes. Salt pork is used to add flavor in soups and stews, while bacon is used as meat in cuisines.
Salt pork is commonly cooked by first boiling it for up to 10 minutes, as they are much thicker than bacon, then frying till a crisp exterior is attained. Bacon,on the other hand, is pan-fried or oven-baked and takes considerably lesser time to cook. This is because they are thinner, and heat penetrates more rapidly.
How Much Salt is in Bacon?
Bacon is one food item that’s present in most households. Usually a part of breakfast, these meat pieces have a considerably high amount of salt. An ounce of bacon will carry as much sodium as 400mg. The salt is absorbed as the bacon cures. When paired with toast or eggs, the salt intake you consume is just too much.
We all know the deliciousness bacon carries, but the salt levels might bring about health concerns, especially for persons watching on sodium intake. Excess salt intake risks stomach cancer and high blood pressure. Persons with high blood pressure should watch on the amount of bacon they consume. The maximum salt intake in a day as per the American Dietary Guidelines is 2300mg or less.
How to Make Bacon Less Salty
Bacon can’t be bacon without salt. Going for bacon with lesser amounts of salt isn’t good either, because you might end up sprinkling some salt onto it. That, of course, wouldn’t make sense. Bacon lovers watching on salt intake will want to take a step to ensure they don’t compromise their health. So how do you remove excess salt in bacon?
Soak And Rinse Method
Soaking bacon is all about immersing your bacon strips in water. Be informed that this method might tamper with the bacon’s smoke-y flavor. Here is how to do it:
- Add ice-cold waterto a bowl.
- Put the bacon into the bowl or container.
- Leave it to sit for few hours.
- Drain the water and rinse the bacon.
- Test if the salt in the bacon matches your liking.
- If it is still too salty, repeat the process all over again.
Blanching? Yes! You read that right. To get the best out of this method, you will need to try it out several times to determine whether you like it or not.
- Place a pan with water onto a stove.
- Heat till the water boils.
- Add your bacon into the pan and let it simmer for a minute.
- Take the bacon off the frying pan and onto a kitchen or paper towel. Let the excess water sip off.
Once dry, you can cook your bacon.
Pouring in Hot Water
Here, you will:
- Add bacon into a bowl(it should be heat-proof)
- Pour hot boiling water into the bowl. Ensure the water covers the bacon.
- Then stir and leave it to sit for about 2 minutes.
- Drain the water. If the salt level is still high, repeat until it a favorable level is attained.
- Follow the same soaking steps and then pat the bacon dry in the end.
Which Bacon is Salty, Smoked, or Unsmoked?
There are two methods of treating bacon, which often result in either smoked or salt-cured bacon. Unsmoked bacon is usually salt, unlike the smoked type.
The two bacon treatment techniques are smoking and curing. Smoked bacon has no salt in it because it’s treated over smoke. The smoking process will flavor, brown, cook, and preserve the bacon. The smoke can be from a variety of wood chips and wood sawdust. Sometimes, the bacon is smoked using corn cobs or peat for a different taste profile.
Unsmoked bacon is cured in a brine solution, resulting in its saltier flavor. The prolonged exposure to salt is what gives this type of bacon a higher salt content.
Whereas smoking bacon results in juicier meat with a sweet nutty taste, a little salt is necessary to complete the taste profile. Thus, both smoked and unsmoked types of bacon are salty, but the unsmoked bacon is often saltier.
Any reliable bacon producer will label the packaging so that you don’t consume unsafe amounts of salts unknowingly.
How to Get Salt Out of Bacon
Reducing the amount of salt in bacon can be done in any methods described earlier, including soaking and rinsing, blanching, and dipping in hot water.
If one of these methods doesn’t yield the desired results, you can combine them until the salt reaches a satisfactory level.
When trying to reduce the salt, you should know that if the bacon was smoke-cured, the blanching or dipping in hot water would most likely interfere with the original smoke-y flavor.
Bacon owes its great taste partly to salt. While salt-cured bacon will contain more salt, smoked bacon may not taste as great without a pinch of salt. As to how much salt is in a given type of bacon, that’s up to the manufacturer. Should you want to tune it down, you can do so through any of the methods above.