Food is about emotional reactions. Certain smells
remind of us of our childhoods, certain tastes bring
us back ‘home’, and foods become our salvation in
times when we need comfort. There is no food that
contributes to our emotions quite like bacon does.
Traditionally, a ‘cheap cut’ reserved for peasants and
the poor, bacon has evolved into focus of a huge
cult-like following. Nowadays, you can see countless
products inspired by the cured pig belly. There is bacon
candy, bacon cupcakes, bacon design bandages, and
countless bacon internet memes.
Why is it that bacon has become such a fanatical food,
inspiring both extreme love, and hate alike? We’re
convinced that if you hate bacon, you probably also
hate babies, ponies, love, and life itself! How did bacon
become such a big thing, and where did it even come
In the following pages, we’ll answer many questions
and provide interesting facts on bacon, along with
some really awesome recipes and food porn….
Because that’s exactly what bacon is – porn for your
Let’s start at the beginning.
To start, let’s get out of the way, the question, “What is
qualified as bacon?”
ba•con [bey-kuh n]
1. The back and sides of the hog, salted and dried or
smoked, usually sliced thin.
2. Pork, cured in brine.
There are reports that suggest bacon being around as
far back as 1500 years ago in China, but as far as we
can actually trace back through documented recipes,
bacon was known to exist in ancient Roman times, then
called petaso. In modern times, we’re pretty spoiled
with our advanced technology, but back then there was
no refrigeration to preserve food. So, the techniques
of curing and pickling developed in order to keep food
for longer periods of time. Pigs were relatively easy to
domesticate, and petaso was a common dish in Roman
times, although it was quite different than how we know
bacon today. Petaso was most likely boiled with figs, and
then browned. Pigs with figs!
During the middle ages and beginning of the
Renaissance era, cured pig belly was cheap and
accessible to the peasant classes, so bacon was very
common among the masses of people in countries like
France, Italy, and England, among many other European
In 1770’s England, the industrialization of bacon begins
as John Harris of Wiltshire, England opens the first
business focusing on the sale of bacon. To this day,
Wiltshire is still considered by many, as the capital of
bacon. The British version of bacon is different than the
more popular American bacon, but we’ll get into that
In 1875, British immigrant, William Davies gives birth
to “Canadian bacon”, as he begins to sell salt-cured
peameal in the legendary St. Lawrence Market in Toronto
(our home town). Toronto was long-called “Hogtown”,
due to other cities seeing Toronto as being full of greedy
people, but in 1898, Davies helped solidify this moniker,
as The William Davies Company became the largest
pork processor in the entire British Empire (which, at the
time included parts of Canada, The Caribbean, South
America, India, Africa, Australia, among others).
During the turn of the 20th century, the Mayer brothers,
German immigrants had created and grown a successful
meat company, lead by Oscar Mayer, and serving the
German population of Chicago, began participating
in the famed Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. At the
dawn of the roaring 20’s, the Mayer Food Company
(today, owned by Kraft) re-established itself in Madison,
Wisconsin, and in 1924, Oscar Mayer released the
first pre-packaged and pre-sliced bacon product to the
During the 1980’s, a fitness craze, lead by characters
such as Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons, swept
across the US, while bacon (and any fat) was completely
demonized. They were wrong of course, because we all
know bacon is magnificent!
Between 2001 and 2009, the use of
bacon in food services, including
purchase for home use, grew about
In 2008, we were immersed in a recession that made
many of us shy of spending, and top chefs began
experimenting more with cheaper products.
With the development of many amazing new dishes that
incorporated the salty meat, bacon’s cult status began to
Since 2011, bacon’s usage growth has been
consistently increasing by 2.4%.
Ancient Roman Ancient
Old English Later Germanic Frankish French, taken
from the Frank-
“Petaso” “Bak” “Back” “Bakkon” “Bako” “Bacon”
There are several different types of ‘bacon’ out there
on the market, but when it comes down to it, there’s
really only 3 main types of real bacon. According to the
definition of what it is, bacon should be:
1. Made from the belly (side) or back (loin) of a pig.
2. Cured – either by wet cure method, or dry cure
3. It’s optional if it’s smoked or not.
Let’s begin with the most loved version.
American bacon, which is also known as ‘streaky
bacon’ by the British, is the most well-known version,
and arguably, the most loved. It’s made from the belly
cut (which is technically from the side, not the actual
American bacon has a fatty, salty and somewhat umami
flavor to it that just can’t be replicated by any other
product out there. This type of bacon can, and is used
to make numerous other products and dishes better.
First off, ‘Britain’ or ‘The UK’ covers England, Scotland,
and Northern Ireland. Now that we got that terminology
out of the way…
British bacon is made primarily from the loin of the pig,
which is located in the middle closer to the back of
the pig. The loin is much leaner, but the British version
(unlike the Canadian, which we’ll see next), has much of
the back fat still attached to it. To keep some additional
flavor in there, the British bacon cut also has a portion
of the belly still attached to the loin, so in a way, it gets
the best of both worlds. The Brits call pieces of bacon
“rashers” (but only if it’s the loin cut… the American
belly bacon is just called “streaky” in the UK).
In the US, it’s called “Canadian bacon”, in the UK it’s
called “back bacon”, and we Canadians just call it
“peameal”. This name is due to the yellow colored meal
made from dried and ground yellow peas that coats
the outside of the loin. This practice was developed
in Toronto, Canada, and was originally started for
preservative reasons. Unlike the British version, which
remains relatively fatty, peameal bacon is trimmed of
most of the fat, with only a very thin layer remaining.
What About the Others?
So, this is where it gets tricky.
There are many other ‘alternative’ bacons out there,
such as turkey bacon, chicken bacon, vegetarian
bacon, etc. We’re sorry to say that technically, these
varieties are not considered bacon. Actually, they aren’t
even close. However, let’s not kick them out of bed
just yet. These products are made using a bacon-style
method of production, so I guess there’s room to let them in... and for those people out there with dietary or religious
restrictions, then these alternatives are good options.
The other products to consider are the Italian cured meats. Probably the most famous, prosciutto is cured and aged.
Does this make it bacon? No. Prosciutto is amazing, and any true bacon lover should appreciate good prosciutto
(jamon Iberico, anyone?) but there are a couple differences. Prosciutto is made from the ham cut (which is from the
upper back leg/bum). The other difference is that hams are cured in a slightly different type of brine than bacon. We
know, this is being ultra picky, but rules are rules!
Pancetta, on the other hand… this can be considered bacon. Pancetta is made from the belly cut, and is dry salt
cured, then hung and aged for about 3 months. It’s also often used in Italian cooking, much the same as we would use
bacon (streaky) in French or North American cooking. So, pancetta IS bacon. It just speaks a different language.
This is bacon that’s cured, but not smoked.
There is also bacon that is smoked but not cured
(technically that’s not even bacon!).
The majority of bacon is cured using sodium nitrate
from pink curing salt. Nitrate-free bacon is cured
without curing salts, and often is cured using the aid of
celery and cabbage, which produce nitrates naturally.
This bacon is cured in a brine before smoking.
This is cured using a dry rub salt mixture (much like the
recipe in here).
Just a small disclaimer before we go too deep into
this—anything in excess can be bad for you, but bacon
has definitely been falsely demonized by many in the
health realm. This is mostly due to the misinformed
thinking that fats make you fat (which, we should all
know by now, is wrong). Here’s a general nutritional
breakdown of bacon (obviously, amounts could differ
depending on how the pig was raised).
Fats in Bacon
The monounsaturated fats that make up the majority
of fats in bacon, are in large partially made up from
oleic acid, which is highly touted as ‘heart healthy’.
This is one reason why olive oil has earned its healthy
Saturated fats are definitely the most misunderstood of
all fats. In moderate amounts, they won’t kill you. In fact,
you actually need saturated fats in your body to live
The polyunsaturated fats are made up mostly from
Omega 6 fats. This is the bad fat in bacon, BUT only
because we already have so much of it in our diets from
Now, let’s take a look at some
positive nutritional benefits
If we’re working with a 100g portion (just because
that’s an easy number to work with), here’s some
positive nutritional facts that bacon offers:
«« 37 grams of protein
«« Selenium (89% of recommended daily amount)
«« Phosphorus (53% of RDA)
«« Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12
One other really interesting nutritional fact, is that
bacon contains high amounts of choline. In studies, this
nutrient has been shown to increase the intelligence
levels in humans, IF they receive high levels of it
(through the mother) BEFORE they are born. Now,
we’re not saying that pregnant women should go out
there and eat 5 lbs of bacon every day, but choline can
also be found in other foods such as eggs, liver, milk,
chicken, and some nuts.
All that being said, bacon is actually pretty nutritious!
Great news for bacon lovers! Of course, just like all
foods, the source matters. You will get a lot more of
the positive benefits of bacon when it’s sourced from a
natural farmer. ALL bacon is processed to some extent,
but natural farming produces a much happier pig, and
much healthier and yummier bacon! The best bacon
we’ve had to date, is from the pigs at Sideroad Natural
Farm, here in Ontario, Canada. Their bacon is just pure
awesomeness. ‘Nuff said. If you want to try some, you’ll
have to come visit!.
Wait, But Aren’t Nitrates The Work
of the Devil?
Nitrates get talked about in healthy eating circles, as
if they are artificially created in a lab by an evil genius,
that only exists in bacon, making it super unhealthy.
The fact is, nitrates are naturally occurring. The nitrates
in bacon come through the curing process, which
uses pink curing salt (only a relatively small amount
compared to the other ingredients used).
You can actually find nitrates in vegetables and even in
your own saliva, which means they are a natural part of
our bodies. The potential downside to nitrates is that
they can form nitrosamines when cooked with high
heat, which is carcinogenic. Nitrates have long been
linked to contributing to cancer, however, the amount
of possible negative effects that we can get from the
nitrates in bacon is so minimal that we probably don’t
have much to worry about.
All That Is Awesome,
But Let’s Get To The Recipes Already!
“When in doubt, just add more bacon”
Here are some awesome recipes that use our favorite ingredient as the star – BACON! You can follow the recipes,
but always use your judgment, and cook by taste. Recipes are more guidelines, than formulas. When in doubt, just add
more bacon, because bacon makes everything taste better!
Getting bacon directly from farmers that raise naturally
grown pigs is absolutely amazing. The only thing
better is making your own. Of course, we recommend
sourcing your pork belly from naturally raised pigs,
whether that be directly from the farmer, or from a good
butcher shop. You may have to experiment with this one
a little bit, but try it out, once you get it to your liking,
you’ll never go back!
5 lb piece Pork belly
1 cup Kosher salt
½ cup Brown sugar (use Demerara sugar for a
little deeper flavour)
2 tbsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Oregano
2 tbsp Smoke paprika
3-4 Crushed bay leaves
1 tbsp Pink curing salt (optional)
Most bacons use the pink curing salt, which
does contain nitrates. Some people prefer
to leave this out, which is totally fine, but just
realize that your bacon will not quite cure in
the same way, and won’t have the distinctive
coloring of cooked bacon that we’re used to. It
will be more grey-ish.
1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. Put pork belly on a large baking sheet, or surface
that is easy to cleanup.
3. Cover pork belly entirely with the salt mixture,
making sure to get both sides.
4. Massage in the salt mixture for a few minutes, all
over, to ensure that it really gets into the pork.
5. Lightly shake off belly, and discard any salt mixture
that doesn’t stick to it.
6. Put pork belly into a large ziplock bag, squeeze air
out and seal.
7. Keep belly in the fridge for about 7 days…. Flip it
and massage it daily. Liquid will come out of it into
the bag, but just leave it
8. After 7 days, take belly out of bag, discard liquid,
and thoroughly rinse off salt mixture with cold water.
9. At this point, you can choose to either smoke the
bacon, or not. Most bacon is lightly smoked, but is
not absolutely necessary. The bacon will keep in the
fridge for about a week, in a sealed bag or container,
or in the freezer for about a month. Enjoy!
This is the absolutely perfect quick meal when you are
tired or lazy, but hungry after a long day. This meal is
a go-to when you just don’t feel like doing too much...
plus, the bacon in it satisfies the need for comfort
food when you’re feeling burned out. This one is
super simple and quick. The trick is using day old rice,
because it’s better for frying than fresh rice (which
sticks too much).
Day old sticky rice, as much as you
need for your liking
4-5 Slices of bacon (or as much as you’d
1 Chopped onion
2 Scallions (green parts only)
Try eating this with ketchup on it. The
sweetness from the ketchup goes perfectly to
cut into the yummy salt and fat from the bacon,
but that’s totally optional.
1. Chop the bacon into lardon (the French term for
small strips… chop it up)
2. Cook the bacon in a pan on medium heat, don’t
push it too fast, or it will burn.
3. While the bacon is cooking, chop up an onion, then
add to pan once bacon is almost done. Turn the
heat to medium-low, and sweat down until soft.
4. Add in the rice, mix it up, and cook on low, just to
heat up the rice.
5. Finish by mixing in chopped up scallions.
This recipe was inspired by a famous restaurant in
Montreal, QC (one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorites).
You could serve up this dish topped with a piece of
pan-seared foie gras which would make it the most
amazing thing you’ve ever put in your mouth (insert
jokes here). The balance of fatty, salty, sweet, and
savory is the perfect combination, and oh so rich. The
recipe as listed here, is a really great Sunday brunch
item to impress people, and your taste buds (we left the
foie gras out because it’s a bit more involved)!
1 cup Flour (gluten-free or you can use
regular if you prefer)
½ cup Scottish oats
2 tbsp Ground flax seed
1 tbsp Baking powder
1 tsp Baking soda
1 Egg - beaten
½ cup Milk
Bacon (depending on how many you’re
Old white cheddar cheese (please
don’t used processed cheese slices!)
1. First, make the pancakes – mix all ingredients
together in a bowl… adjust the amount of milk to
make a good consistency with the batter. You want it
to be a little bit runny, but not too liquidy, or it won’t
hold its shape in the pan.
2. Let the mixture rest for a little bit. Ideally, 1 hr is
perfect, but you can get away with the quick version
and sit for only 15 minutes if you’re in a hurry.
Resting the batter will allow it to incorporate and
3. Cook pancakes in a pan, on medium heat so they
don’t burn. The size depends on how big you want
them. We like them about 3-4 inches in diameter
circles. Keep cooked pancakes aside.
4. Now, cook strips of bacon… as many as you’d like
depending on how bacon crazed you are! Cut the
cooked strips to fit the size of the pancakes, and lay
down a layer. Usually only one layer per pancake is
5. Next, cut the old white cheddar into slices, enough
to layer on top of the bacon. About 3 mm in
thickness is perfect, because if you cut it too thick,
it will take too long to melt, and overcook the rest of
6. After you’ve layered the pancakes, bacon, and
cheddar, put them on a baking sheet on tin foil
(easier cleanup), and stick it in the oven at 350˚C,
just until the cheese is mostly melted.
7. Now, comes the best part… pour maple syrup on
top of the entire concoction. Eat, and enjoy the
flavor explosion that you are about to experience!
This dish is inspired by the Alsacian region in eastern
France, on the border with Germany. In Alsace, they
typically used a lot of choucroute (sauerkraut), but
for this one, we use fresh green cabbage. It’s the
addition of bacon that makes the cabbage awesome,
and topped with pork belly, you’re essentially getting a
1 piece Pork belly, skin removed
½ bottle White wine
Chicken stock - enough to cover
4 slices Bacon (2 slices for the pork belly
braise, 2 slices for the cabbage)
3-4 sprigs Thyme
3 Bay leaves
2-3 sprigs Rosemary
Small handful Parsley
3 cloves Garlic
½ Green cabbage
½ stick Butter
It’s best to use a dutch oven for this, or at least
a medium deep pot!
1. Cut pork belly into large chunks, or what you would
use for individual portions. In some olive oil, on
medium high heat, sear the pieces of belly until
browned. Make sure to season with salt & pepper
beforehand! Place aside.
2. Sweat chopped onion, garlic and bacon in a little
olive oil until soft.
3. Add pork belly pieces back to the pot, and add in
the white wine. Turn the heat up to high, and let
it simmer for about a minute. Then add in enough
stock to just cover the meat.
4. Bring pot to a boil, then place in oven at 350˚, for
about 3 hours (check at 2 hours, to make sure the
liquid level hasn’t dropped too much).
5. In the meantime, make the cabbage. Finely slice or
shred the cabbage.
6. Dice about ½ an onion, and cut 2 bacon slices into
lardon (small pieces). Cook the bacon and onion on
medium low heat.
7. Add in the butter, let it melt a little, then add in the
cabbage, and stir to completely coat all the cabbage
in the butter. Keep heat on medium low.
8. Add in a splash of vinegar (white wine vinegar or
apple cider vinegar).
9. Allow to simmer on low, to soften cabbage, season
with salt & pepper.
10. Optional: if you have it, finish with a little truffle oil.
Other Awesome Uses For
Bacon adds a great ‘umami’ flavoring to pretty much anything.
Here’s a few awesome ways you can use it to enhance potentially
Add bacon to pastas to deepen
the flavor, and complement any
sauces or cheese you use.
Add bacon to vegetables
when sautéing them. It will
add another element to make
even the most boring veggies
yummy. Works best with kale,
spinach, cabbage, Brussels
Make bacon onion jam for a
truly awesome condiment that
you can use on burgers, or just
Bacon and maple, and bacon
and cheese are the most
awesome pairings possibly
known to man.
Crisp bacon strips added to a
salad can really liven it up, and
even make carnivores loves