The Original baconkit™ – not a good choice!

baconkit

Image courtesy of: Sur La Table/ Amazon.com

baconkit™ + pork = homemade bacon!

That’s what they tell you; right off the bat, at the top of their page.

We know it really is that simple (if you do it right) and we’ve shown ample proof.  Our Youtube video and our ‘Bacon by Picture’ blog post along with our Rub Yer Belly bacon cures have brought the joy of homemade bacon-y goodness to homes across the country!

So when someone else pops up claiming to offer a comparable method we gotta know – “Is it as good as ours?”  Obviously some might suggest that we are biased because we already have a dog in the hunt, but we are always looking to improve – and the baconkit™ offered an opportunity for just such a critical evaluation.

Here’s the short version of our take on the baconkit™.

The pros:  It has really cool name and you can purchase the baconkit™ at Sur La Table or Amazon.com

The cons:  It’s pricey ($22 versus $10 for Rub Yer Belly cures) and it uses refined salt and sugar. (Rub Yer Belly cures use only organic unrefined salts and sugars)

The bottom line:  Don’t buy this kit if you really want to make great bacon at home.  This is a great starter kit, but you can fully expect to feel let down and disappointed with the result.  As the Amazon review stated:

“This was a fun idea, but ultimately not that successful. Maybe if I had a smoker it would have been more bacony, but as it was the meat never got that wonderful bacon flavor. For $22 for the kit (one time use) and $50 for 5 pounds of high quality pork belly, my money would have been better spent on the thick cut stuff from Whole Foods.”

Here are our issues based on what we now know about the baconkit™:

  • It includes everything you need to make bacon at home except a smoker and the pork belly.  That includes:  Curing Bag, Thermometer, Cure, Maple Sugar, Instruction Sheet.  Great, no problem here.  It’s a bit cost prohibitive (read: ridiculously expensive) to ship a smoker with each baconkit™ and the exercise of selecting your own pork belly raises the type of questions that need to be asked if you are going to be able to successfully cure your own bacon.
  • The actual ingredients only show Cure and Maple Sugar.  The Maple Sugar is optional.  Really???  Why in the world would anyone take the time to make old-school dry-cured bacon and not use maple sugar when it was made available?  And why, if the maple sugar is shipped in each baconkit™, do they not just blend the Maple Sugar into the cure.  Seems like a waste of maple sugar if you ask us, but what do we know about making bacon.
  • The only review is the one cited above and can be viewed on Amazon.  This after the product has been available for more than a year and the reviewer’s thoughts mimic our own sentiments.  It doesn’t and it isn’t going to taste like good bacon!  Why?  Because the creators of the baconkit™ seem to lack a basic understanding of what is required to make GOOD bacon!

In addition to providing our own line of bacon cures, blog posts and a Youtube video about making bacon, we even taught our own series of Chitchen Kemistry classes that included a Makin’ Bacon class to cover more than just the basics.  (We also taught a Dry-Aging Beef class too!)  After reading through the baconkit™ FAQ’s we’re certain that these guys would have benefited from the bacon class!

For example, the first question in the baconkit™ FAQ about pork belly reads as though Kurobuta and Berkshire are two different types of pork.  And, yes, if you are going to capitalize Whole Foods you should also capitalize Kurobuta and Berkshire, but we digress.   As for them being two different types of pork, that is a misconception.  Kurobuta is simply Japanese Berkshire.  They are NOT two different types of pig.

The fifth question regarding ‘skin on’ or ‘skin off’ is also very misleading.  It’s true that you can cure either way, but if you choose to leave the skin on the total curing time will be much longer because it’s been proven that the sodium nitrite in the cure has difficulty penetrating the skin.  The baconkit™ package clearly states on the outside that you can make bacon in just 7 days, but that won’t be happening if you leave the skin on.

Now that we’ve introduced the subject of time, is 7 days realistic?  No.  Your bacon will need to cure for at least 7 days.  Unless your pork belly is less than 1” thick, you will need 7 full days for the cure to fully penetrate the belly.  If your pork belly is thicker (1.25” – 1.5”), it may take as long as 10 days for full cure penetration.

How do you know when the cure has fully penetrated the pork belly?  The belly will have firmed up and will be less flexible than it was when you first put it into the bag.

Once the belly has properly cured, you need to allow an additional 24 hours for the pellicle to form before smoking.  Even if you aren’t going to smoke your bacon, allowing the pellicle to form still produces a much better quality bacon because it’s better for the bacon to dry a bit after curing and before finishing.  Once you actually get around to cooking off the bacon they provide a handy little pop-up thermometer in the baconkit™ …no additional comment necessary, this approach is flawed for several reasons.

That makes a minimum of 8 days possibly as many as 11 depending on how thick your pork belly was to begin with.  We also find that allowing the bacon to complete chill before slicing is beneficial.  Allow another day to thoroughly chill.

Last and most certainly not least, we must address the actual ingredients.  The salt and sugar they use in the baconkit™ are refined – we hope you’ve learned by now that refined salt and sugar do not a good bacon make!   The maple sugar is unrefined, but what’s the point.  If you use the other inferior ingredients to begin with you can’t expect to produce a better product.

The creators of the baconkit™ are definitely correct on one count – you can indeed make your own bacon at home.  The real question is, “Will you want to eat it when you are finished?”