If you are reading this blog it is safe to assume that you are not a vegetarian, but a crazed meat eater, who lives for a perfectly cooked rib eye, a well smoked brisket, or heavy helpings of bacon each and every morning. I mean who wouldn’t love that. I live in a small apartment so whenever I wake up to the crackling of bacon being cooked by my girl, and the aroma filling up my place, I know I am bound to have a great day. In fact Apple should make that sound an alarm, but I digress.
As we all have seen either by being dragged into a Trader Joe’s, or seeing TikTok influencers cooking videos, there is a debate about cured bacon vs uncured bacon. I am here to help clear that up for you. I know my audience so we won’t go into any chemical equations here but I would like to bring everyone up to speed on a few things and hopefully at the end you have a better understanding about the world of bacon in general.
For those of you who don't know what “curing” meat is, curing is the addition to meats of some combination of salt, sugar, nitrite and/or nitrate for the purposes of preservation, flavor and color. This practice has been going on since at least the 3rd century BC where a Roman great named Cato, wrote down very detailed and specific instructions on how to cure a ham, but there are a lot of reports that this has been happening even further back.
In present day, we are able to scientifically measure our curing process. Basically we can measure just how much nitrates are being added to the meat in a controlled environment arguably making it safer and better for you than ever before.
Now most people hear “nitrates” and will run away scared saying, “I heard that's bad for you!” Well of course in excess this could become a problem but actually the nitrates that exist in the curing process help to keep the bacon pink, they maintain bacon’s flavor, prevent off odors, and MOST IMPORTANTLY delay the growth of the bacteria that you know, could cause a little thing scientist like to call botulism. I do not have time to go into that but it’s bad, Google it.
Now here is the rub, pun intended. Uncured bacon, IS STILL CURED.
What Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods, don’t tell you is that uncured bacon is still cured just in a slightly different way. Instead of using precise measurements, “uncured meat” is cured mainly by using celery of all things. This creates natural nitrates. So yes “no nitrates were added” but in reality there are still a lot of nitrates there.
So what’s the take away? Do we want to eat cured or uncured? How do I explain this to my wife who is convinced that uncured is better? To us here at Front Row Meats, we believe it is not the curing or uncuring of bacon that sets the standard, it is the quality of hog that the meat comes from and that is what is truly important. Front Row Meats’ meat is sourced exclusively from local farmers who use sustainable farming practices to raise their animals.This means that all of our meat comes from animals pasture-raised in a humane, ecologically sustainable manner, and fed foods that nature intended them to eat, rather than being fattened on a feedlot or in a confined facility.
So let me ask you this, do you know where your meat comes from?
Carey, E. (2019, September 14). Cured vs. Uncured Bacon. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/cured-vs-uncured-bacon#takeaway.
Cured vs Uncured Bacon: What's The Difference? Tender Belly. (n.d.). https://www.tenderbelly.com/blogs/foodie/cured-vs-uncured-bacon-whats-the-difference.
Haspel, T. (2019, April 23). Perspective | The 'uncured' bacon illusion: It's actually cured, and it's not better for you. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/the-uncured-bacon-illusion-its-actually-cured-and-its-not-better-for-you/2019/04/19/0c89630c-608c-11e9-9ff2-abc984dc9eec_story.html.
History of meat curing process. (2013, May 6). https://foodprocessinghistory.blogspot.com/2013/05/history-of-meat-curing-process.html.
Nummer, B. A., & Andress, E. L. (n.d.). Curing and Smoking Meats for Home Food Preservation Literature Review and Critical Preservation Points. Curing and Smoking Meats for Home Food Preservation. https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/nchfp/lit_rev/cure_smoke_cure.html.