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Secret wet cure recipe for smoked bacon

Belly of pork before curing

Having had a baconless weekend, I have been actively seeking a new butcher. I’m told that there’s a great independent butcher in Bury St Edmunds, 14 miles away. When I next have a Saturday off, Jalopy and I will be pointed like an arrow towards that lovely old Cathedral city.

In the interim, we’ve tasted some ‘good’ commercially produced bacon and been amazed at the thin and wishy-washy flavour and at the price. Even at special offer prices, bacon is a luxury. Finding a good pork supplier is now a priority.

I drifted into Tesco yesterday with the faint hope that I might find a loin or belly of pork joint. There were loads of pork belly joints trussed up with string – I suspect to make them look more tempting as a roast. At the back of the shelf I unearthed a diminutive loin of pork joint. On Special Offer. This would make great back bacon for half the price of the slices that are sold in packs of six in the local shops.

When Danny spotted the joint in my basket, I was given a hero’s welcome.
“I‘d begun to take our bacon for granted. Now I really appreciate what we’ve enjoyed for months.” D was effusive.

The small joint is curing as my fingers fly across the keyboard and will be smoked in our inglenook fireplace on Friday night.

When Tessa’s husband tasted our bacon his response was simple.
“We have to make this at home.”
As she doesn’t have kitchen weighing scales and doesn’t like salt, she played with our recipe. She brought round some sample slices and we discovered that her bacon tasted better than ours. But that’s what it’s all about – sharing and adapting.

So I tried her recipe. It uses far less salt than our original recipe and the bacon tastes wonderful. She smokes her bacon in a chiminea which has been adapted with a long piece of ducting pipe.

Having been smoked, our bacon lasts well for about a week in the fridge. It would last for much longer if we used more salt. I freeze it in ‘breakfast for two’ sized packs after slicing. It unfreezes quickly when the time comes and guarantees ultra fresh, tasty home cured bacon every time.

This recipe makes enough cure for half a whole belly of pork (streaky) of half a whole loin of pork (back).

Secret wet cure recipe for smoked bacon


  • A joint of either loin or belly of pork
  • 900ml of cold water
  • 100g of cooking salt
  • 2 heaped teaspoonfuls of dark treacle or molasses


  1. Mix the salt and treacle with the water.
  2. Place the joint in the water and submerge it with a small plate. Leave to soak in the fridge for three days.
  3. Remove the joint from the curing mixture and dry with a clean tea towel. Then rub in a heaped teaspoonful of dark treacle into the pork until it is absorbed.
  4. Cover with butcher’s muslin and smoke for several hours over a very low, smoking fire.
  5. Store in greasproof paper in the fridge.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Rich

    I used to use saltpetre but gave up using it as I didn’t like the taste. This bacon is for home consumption and is generally frozen to store.

    Hi Tom

    It all depends on the size of the pig. A belly can be anything from 3-5 kilos.

    We have updated this recipe now see here.
    Quite often I pick up a small belly joint these days and cure that.

  2. I would love to use this wet cure recipe. 1 questions, how many kgs is a half of belly for steaky bacon ? tks

  3. potassium nitrate (saltpetre) has been used for hundreds of years in curing, the reason is that it inhibits botulism so it is advisable to use it

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Barbara

    There is a picture of one here It’s the one Tessa and Colin adapted by addinga long chimney.

  5. I am not quite sure what a chimnea is? I live in Portugal and I have a built in barbecue on my open air terrace. I don’t think that that could be transformed into a smoking oven…. I remember my Father having one built (many many years ago) and smoking fish with sawdust!

  6. samantha winter

    Hi Fiona
    Thanks for the blogger award and congrats on getting one yourself. Well deserved.
    We did a wet cure bacon joint last Christmas which included beer in the cure mix. I enjoyed it but T-W-O didn’t like the beer taste on his food.

  7. Could you use honey instead of molasses or treacle?

  8. I am not sure exactly where in the shire you are, but there is a good local butcher near where I live in Cambridge on Mill Road. The shop is just on the town side of the railway bridge. I have always found them ready with advice and “witty” banter. The shop is called Northrop Butchers. Their venison is very good for luxury weekend stews too!

  9. magic cochin

    I think I’ll have a go – you’ve made it sound so easy! I can get Gloucester Old Spot belly pork from the Highgate Farm Shop at Willingham (if you give them a call they’ll get whatever cuts you want – combined with a trip to the Willingham Auctions and you’ve got a good day out!)

    Now, how will I do the smoking? Can’t be to tricky as we have two open fire places.

    Thanks Fiona!

  10. You know I think I am going to have to see if we can make a smoker. Although I am not a lover of bacon or pork. PB would be very grateful of a nice breakfast every now and then. The bacon in the shops seems to make watery, white scum… ?? I cant evern think about it without it making me shudder.

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