Bacon, or the ‘meat candy’ as some like to call it, is one of the most delicious breakfast choices. Crunchy, salty, and super satisfying, we all love chewing our bacon strips with eggs in the morning.
And yet, only a few of us know exactly where bacon comes from. This article will discover types of bacon, what parts of the pig are used to make different types of bacon, and how your favorite breakfast is made.
How To Make Bacon
Ok, maybe fat is not something we want to see around our bellies, but when it comes to pork belly fat, we absolutely love that. And it’s no surprise since the majority of bacon comes from this fatty cut of the pig.
But, it is not like bacon comes from the pig in the way it looks when served on your breakfast table. Making bacon is actually a long process that requires a lot of work. I will try to simplify this process and briefly explain how bacon is actually made:
Once the pig is skinned, shoulder and butt removed, it is time to remove the pork belly (and the attached ribs).
Once the pork is removed, the ribs are then separate from the belly.
Then, the pork belly is carefully trimmed for bacon.
The pork belly then enters a long curing process. The curing process can either be wet – done with soaking the belly into a brine, or dry – with the help of salt crystals. Then, the belly has to be smoked, boiled, or even left for weeks (or even months) to air dry completely.
Once the belly is smoked (the most common process), it is then cut for bacon. And that’s it.
It may seem simple, but just imagine what the whole process must look like. It is definitely time-consuming and requires certain butchering skills.
Interested to know how bacon is cured? Check out this video
Types of bacon and which parts of the pig do they come from
The process of making bacon that is explained above is for side bacon.
Side bacon comes from the belly of the pig and it is the most popular kind. It is the one that is super fatty with fat layers that are parallel to the rind.
Also called streaky bacon, the side bacon is the most common and most delicious type of bacon.
And it is not only the most popular in United States, side bacon is enjoyed throughout the world.
In fact, the well-known Italian Pancetta – the strong-flavored, Italian bake is actually a side bacon, made from the pork belly.
Canadian Bacon in the United States or Irish Bacon/Rashers in the United Kingdom, no matter what you like to call it, this is actually the same type of bacon – the back bacon.
The back bacon comes from the loin in the middle back of the pig and it is actually a cut that includes both, the pork loin and the pork belly.
The back bacon is actually a leaner cut than the side bacon, which is quite obvious given that the belly is much fattier than the loin in the back.
If you cannot exactly picture which cut of the pig this is, know that the back bacon is actually the same cut of the pig as the pork chops. Sold in smoked and unsmoked varieties, the back bacon is most popular in Ireland and England.
The smoked, cured, and then fully cooked type of back bacon is called Canadian bacon.
It is thinly sliced into rounds and this type of bacon is mostly made from the loin’s lean eye. Ready to consume, Canadian bacon, even though it is technically bacon, it has a taste that is much more similar to ham than it is to regular fatty bacon.
Note: It is called Canadian bacon only in the United States. In Canada, they refer to this type of bacon simply as “back bacon”.
Middle bacon is actually a combination of the side and back bacon, since it includes them both in the same cut. It is made of the fatty part of the side bacon and a part of the back bacon’s loin.
The middle bacon is intermediate in both, fat content and price, and it is the most popular type of bacon in Australia.
Its rich flavor that is something between Canadian bacon and American bacon (side bacon) makes it supper appealing.
Cottage bacon is made from the Boston butt which is actually the shoulder of the pork (think pulled pork for carnitas or Southern pork ribs).
The cottage bacon is pretty meaty and it is usually cut in an oval shape. This type of bacon is pretty much always cured.
Since the Cottage bacon comes from the shoulder and not from the belly of the pig, the bacon is leaner, and cooked, is more like ham than like a regular, belly bacon.
Jowl bacon or otherwise known as Pork jowl actually comes from the cheeks of the pig.
It is cured and smoked, and it can be used as a main dish such as a full English breakfast, but it is also very popular for adding a meaty flavor in vegetable and bean dishes.
In the south of the US, the jowl bacon is traditionally eaten with black-eyed beans and greens.
In Italy, the most common jowl bacon is non-smoked and it is called guanciale.
Although not so popular as the side dish, collar bacon is also a very delicious cut of the pig. As the name suggests – collar bacon comes from the part where the collar goes – the shoulder.
This bacon is taken from the back of the shoulder of the pig and it is much more flavorful than the other cuts thanks to its dark meat, as well as the marbling.
This bacon, unfortunately, is not sold everywhere, but if you manage to get your hands on it, I assure you, you will not be disappointed at it.
There are indeed many different cuts of bacon, however, the belly of the pig still remains the number one source of the majority of the crunchy bacon that we love eating in the morning.
To me, it is not bacon if it isn’t as fatty as the side and middle bacon. And that type of satisfaction is something that only the pork belly can offer.
If you are a fan of pork, check out my collection of best 5 pork loin recipes. See you in my next article.