Monday, July 04, 2011

canned bacon - roll your own

BackwoodsHome | Armed with the knowledge that it was possible to can bacon and the desire to have a stock of canned bacon lining our shelves, I decided to delve into the process of canning bacon at home. After researching canned bacon through Internet sources and looking in every canning book I owned, to no avail, I decided to pioneer my own method.

Talking to numerous friends who had tried to can their own bacon, only to feed the horrible, greasy, wadded up mess to the dogs, I looked to the cans of bacon I had bought, and liked, to give me a clue how to home can bacon. The main difference between the home canned bacon and the commercially canned bacon seemed to be the paper used to package the bacon and the lack of water added to the can.

Lay another piece of masking paper over the top of the bacon then fold it in half.

Tightly roll up the bacon and paper and slide it into the jar.

My first attempt to can bacon met with measurable success. I laid the raw bacon slices out on a large piece of brown paper, folded the bacon in half and rolled the bacon, paper and all, into a large roll that slid right into my wide-mouthed canning jar. I put a sterilized lid and ring on the jar, processed for 90 minutes in my pressure canner and out came beautiful jars of home-canned bacon. The real test came the next morning, when we opened a jar for breakfast.

The jar of bacon had about 1½ inches of juice at the bottom and another inch of grease that had collected on top of that. I opened the jar, tugged at the paper slightly, and the roll of bacon slid right out. It unrolled well, but when I attempted to unfold the paper, the bacon stuck to itself where it had been folded. We had thick half-strips of bacon rather than long, thinner strips of bacon. Although short, they cooked up wonderfully and tasted just like crisp, fresh cooked bacon. Other than the bacon sticking to itself, the experiment had been very successful. Now I knew why the commercially canned bacon had a layer of paper on the bottom of the bacon and another on the top. The top layer of paper keeps the bacon from cooking together while it is canning.

Originally, I had opened up a paper lunch sack and used that to lay the bacon on for canning. Knowing that would not be practical for canning large quantities of bacon, as you had to overlap two bags and then open another two to cover the bacon, my oldest daughter began looking for an alternative. She came up with 12-inch masking paper that you can buy in the hardware store. It comes in a large roll and costs less than $5. It is very convenient to roll out the amount you need. You can also use parchment paper, purchased at a large grocery or specialty store.

A sale on bacon at our local restaurant supply store was the incentive to give canning bacon another try. This time I was even more prepared with experience and the proper supplies.