The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

How to make your own bacon at home without a smoker : our new delicious sweetcure recipe


Young pigs

Young happy pigs

If you haven’t tried curing your own bacon at home, please give it a go. It’s so easy. You will be eating superb bacon for a fraction of the cost of even the cheapest, nastiest tasting unhappy pig bacon available. 

You can also control the levels of salt – Danny has high blood pressure so commercially produced bacon is a bit of a no no. And unless you inject your bacon with preservatives, you will get no white residue to alarm you. With homemade bacon at the helm you can actually Make Friends and Influence People without having to lay out for the book.

I’m constantly playing around with recipes but not our bacon. Our standard recipe is fine but surely could be tweaked and played with too? So last week I added some light Muscavado sugar to the mix and left out the molasses. The result was exceptionally good, the taste more complex and satisfying than our standard recipe. I can’t wait to start experimenting more!

We have also discovered that leaving the bacon to soak for seven days, rather than four, the bacon tastes better and lasts longer. Both recipes are for bacon with a lower salt content than normal bacon. Once cured, it will last in the fridge for about a week or so, wrapped in a clean tea towel or grease proof paper. If you slice it and freeze it flat – one slice deep – you can cook it straight from the freezer. This would be my advice to a bacon making newbie. Make it and freeze it immediately to enjoy your bacon at its very best.

Of course, if you cure your own bacon you are taking a chance. But if you make sure that everything is scrupulously clean, that your meat is fresh and you follow the guidelines you should live to tell the tale. And what a tale that will be. We are greedy so find it hard to give our bacon away as presents but when we do people love it. On the self sufficiency front it is our gold when it comes to bartering. People proffer asparagus, home farm raised meat and so much more. A glass of Premier Cru champagne anyone? Yes, it happens regularly. Distribute your bacon, don’t ask for a swap and wait. If you are lucky you will sample other people’s gold dust too.

We tend to make streaky bacon as belly of pork is so much cheaper than lion ( for back bacon). Also streaky bacon cubed is in fact a ‘pancetta’ type of bacon and makes a great present for a serious foodie. Years ago I would never have considered using streaky bacon in a weekend fry up – now I actually prefer our grilled streaky to back bacon. ButiIf I have to buy bacon I always go for back.

In the olden days, many households kept a pig or two and cured their own bacon and ham. It was a way of preserving meat. The recipes for these use a lot of salt and saltpetre. Our recipes are different – less preserving agents (salt and sugar/molasses/black treacle) but a ‘healthier’ cure with a far shorter life.

New wet cure recipe for sweetcure back and streaky bacon
1. A small 500g joint of either loin or belly of pork
2. 900ml of cold water
3. 100g of cooking salt
4. 50g of light Muscavado sugar
1. Mix the salt and sugar with the water.
2. Place the joint in the water and submerge it with a small plate. Leave to soak in the fridge for seven days.
3. Remove the joint from the curing mixture and dry with a clean tea towel. Leave the joint to chill in the fridge for an hour or so – this makes slicing easier.
4. Place the joint skin side down on a chopping board and slice.
5. Store in greaseproof paper in the fridge or slice and store in the freezer.

  Leave a reply


  1. Hi Danny/Fiona,

    We have just butchered our first piggies and are preparing to cure some of the mountain of pork that we have, but are somewhat confused but the huge variation in recipes.

    We think we are going to end up with a middle ground recipe for the brine, but we cannot decide whether to use saltpetre or not. Apparently it is the saltpetre that gives bacon its nice pink colour, was your bacon discoloured at all…?


    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Thomas

      Uncooked it looks pink – like real bacon ;). When cooked it looks greyish pink but the flavour is superb.

      Remember our cure is low salt (danny has high blood pressure but loves bacon). We slice and freeze ours after curing for the ultimate fresh bacon experience now.

      If you use a lot more salt it will satay ‘fresh’ for weeks in the fridge. You can soak it in water to remove a lot of the salt before cooking.

  2. Danny Carey

    Hi Debbie – Fiona uses normal household salt. No point in wasting the good stuff for zero additional benefit of the flavour of the finished product. 🙂

    We finished off the most recent batch for brunch today (Sunday). It really is far, far tastier and more satisfying than store bought bacon. Well worth the minimal effort to cure your own.

    By the way, we discovered that bacon (and other food) is far tastier when cooked in our Halogen oven (link) rather than under the grill. We doubted our opinion for quite a while until our halogen broke down once and we had to revert to the grill. The difference was remarkable.

  3. Debbie

    In the recipe you mention ‘cooking salt’. Do you mean table or coarse sea salt?

  4. It’s lovely, yummy, delicious. Every time I looked in the fridge this week I looked forward to today’s breakfast. It’s gorgeous. Slicing it was hard though. Shame about the thick slices (not)
    J x

  5. veronica

    Oh, lovely! I made your previous recipe ages ago and actually did use muscavado sugar and a bit of maple syrup, because I couldn’t get molasses. It was really good, you’ve inspired me try it again.

  6. Sounds wonderful! Your blog is almost too good, every time I read it I seem to be adding something to my ‘must try soon’ list… 🙂
    To make matters worse my copy of ‘Tast of the Unexpected’ arrived last week after I saw you mention it here… Now my list of things to grow this year has increased too! lol 😉

  7. I’m so inspired by this! Will definitely have to try this, thank you for posting your recipe.

  8. skybluepinkish

    I take my hat off to you keeping pigs. We tried but they were such houdinis. It got a little tiresome meeting them as they ambled along the lane. I even watched one of them unbolt the gate!

  9. That bacon sounds really easy and I always thought that it was difficult. Will have to give it a go.

    Please will you say a little bit in your blog about the perennial veg that you mentioned a few days ago – thanks!

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