Medieval Bacon

Medieval Bacon

35. 36.

 

A friend of mine jokes that I beat her in an A&S competition because I bribed the judges with bacon. Well I’m a fan of bacon (though not to the extent of the bacon craziness of two years ago) but I’ve always just used a thick cut good quality bacon from the butchers. When it was announced that February’s Montengarde Culinary Group meeting was going to be all about dishes with bacon or pork my wife suggested that I try making bacon.

So, medieval bacon.

This is an interesting one because we don’t have a whole lot of period info about how they made bacon.

Because this is such a long post I’m giving a basic summary here.Bacon

Essentially I couldn’t find any proof for smoked bacon until the very end of the 16th century. Instead the defining feature was that it was salt cured and dried. Smoke was likely an option but the concerns around the heat from the smoke making the fat of
the bacon turn rancid seem to have kept it from being the main method as it is now. Cold-smoking could have been done but only if they were using nitrites as well.

I’m using a recipe based on combining what I found pre-1600 with the 18th century recipes. The end result is a very salty bacon that should taste very very similar to what Medieval and Renaissance bacon would taste like. The addition of sugar, though likely a post period innovation, is used to cut the saltiness. Nitrites are used because most of the secondary sources mention it, for the food safety, as well as because it is heavily used by the time the first actual recipes show up; combining that with its availability at the time and I’m going to call its use plausible.

The word first appears in writing in 1330.

c1330   Poem temp. Edw. II 388 in Pol. Songs 341   For beof ne for bakoun..Unnethe wolde eny do a char.
1377   Langland Piers Plowman B. v. 194   As a bondman of his bacoun his berde was bidraueled.
c1380   Sir Ferumbras (1879) l. 2696   Wyþ grys, & gees, & capouns..Wiþ motoun, & bef & bakouns.
c1386   Chaucer Wife of Bath’s Prol. 217   The bacoun was nought fet for hem..That som men fecche in Essex at Donmowe.
c1460   J. Fortescue Governance of Eng. (1714) 73   In Fraunce, the People salten but litill meate, except their Bacon.
?1523   J. Fitzherbert Bk. Husbandry §121   Her [a sow’s] body..wyll be as good baken as a hogge.

(OED)

 

Bacon was a staple of the lower and middle class in England, often being the only meat they ate. This is because pigs are so easy to raise and preserve that the relative cost of production was much lower than other meats. Unfortunately “archaeologically the distinction between the use of pork in its fresh and preserved forms is hard to pinpoint” (Woolgar, C. M., Serjeantson, D., and Waldron, T., eds. Food in Medieval England : Diet and Nutrition. 2006. p73) however in the later middle ages we have written records to help us with the differentiation. Although the percentage of pork eaten went down over the centuries from it’s high during the Saxon time period nowhere in England was it ever below 10% of the meat eaten and for most times and places it’s in the 20-40% range. Although common people ate mainly pork as their meat – when they had meat – the amount is offset by the upper classes eating a wider variety of meats (ibid. p76). Due to good record keeping we also know that bacon was most eaten in winter and summer with less eaten in spring (likely due to Lent) and fall (ibid. 205). Bacon was also a key ships ration in the 1500s, with every sailor receiving one pound of bacon on Monday (bacon day) as their meat ration (State Papers, Domestic, CCIX., 16, quoted by Laughton, “Defeat of the Armada”).

Although today we assume that bacon is cured and smoked we get interesting hints from Le Menagier de Paris:

Note that some hang their pigs in the Easter season and the air yellows them; and it would be better for them to keep them in salt as they do in Picardy, even though the flesh is not so firm, it seems; nevertheless you get better service from bacon which is fair and white than from yellow, because however good the yellow may be, it is too repulsive and causes disgust when viewed.

and later

To make chitterling sausages. Note that chitterling sausages are made with the lower gut and other large guts, the large ones are filled with the others to make regular sausages; and those small guts, when you want to make them into chitterling sausages, are split into four parts.
Item, of the bits which are split into narrow slices, make them into chitterling sausages.
Item, of the meat beneath the ribs; item faggots and other things told above of guts for black puddings. And the other things told above, of the said lower gut and others with which chitterling sausages must be filled, will be first immersed and sprinkled with half an ounce of pepper, and with a sixth of (turnip-tops? withered- flowers? hay?), ground with a little salt and dampened, all ground small, with the spices; and when these chitterling sausages are thus done and filled, you take them to be salted with the bacon and on top of the bacon.

From this we see that the key part of bacon was not the smoking of it, but rather the curing of it.  The reference to Picardy (northern France) where the bacon is not hung, just salted, is especially interesting. It shows both that the the Picardy bacon would be much closer to what we know today as pancetta – not being smoked at all all and maybe barely dried – and also that contrary to today’s recipes the bacon was actually packed in salt (see my post on salting meat for more) which would have a much saltier end product. The later reference to sausages being salted on top of the bacon shows that the use of weight in curing was known as well, using the weight of the top bacon to press the lower bacon and increase the speed of the curing process.

About a hundred years later in England we have similar references to bacon in A Noble Boke off Cookry (1468):

To mak ledlardes of iij colloures tak clene cows mylk and put it in thre pots and brek to euy pot a quantite of eggs and colour on withe saffron another with sanders and the third made grene with erbes and to euy part tak a litill lard of salt bacon well sodene and dice it smalle and put it into the pott put ther to salt and boile them to gedur all thre at once and stirr them welle for breking then tak them doun and cast them in a cloth ech on aboue other and fold up the clothe to gedure and presse out the brothe then tak them out and mak leskes of them and lay iij or iiij leskes in a disshe and serue it

Here we see that bacon is still referred to primarily as a salted/cured meat and not a smoked meat. Especially to take note of is that they recommend the bacon be soaked, perhaps because of the amount of salt that is used in preserving/curing it.

Looking again at Piers Powman (referenced in the OED) we see seven different references to bacon (each of these is a different line from within the poem):

And as a bondemannes bacon his berd was yshaue,
And ȝut y saye, by my soule! y haue no salt bacon
May no peny ale hem paie ne no pece of bacoun
Where he may rathest haue a repaest or a ronde of bacoun,
Bote they bothe be forswore þat bacon þei tyne.
Brawen and bloed of gees, bacon and colhoppes.
That neiþer bacon ne braun, blancmanger ne mortrews,

(Piers Plowman: Concordance, Joseph Wittig, A&C Black, Aug 1, 2001)

And again the main distinguishing feature mentioned is salt, not smoke. In fact it’s not till 1598 that we get a solid direct reference to smoked bacon in Florio’s 1598 Italian/English Dictionary: A WORLD of Words “Affumare, to besmoake, to dry in the smoke as baken is, or to blotte as hearings.”

033

In fact in a culinary book as late as 1597 in “The good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin” (transcription, facsimile) we get this tidbit:

How to keep Lard after my Lord Ferries way.

SCald your hogge, and even as you dresse your Bacon hogge, so dresse this: then lay it in salt, the space of three weekes or a moneth. Then take it vp, and let it hang ther as in maner is no smoke: but when ye thinke it wareth moyst, let it be hanged so lowe that the heate of the fire may come to it: or els put it in an Ouen when the breade is drawne out, and when ye thinke it be wel dried, take it out againe til it ware moyst again, and so ye shal keepe it wel enough three quarters of a yeare, and neuer take the leane from the fat but as ye occupie it.

How to keepe larde after my Lady Westone Brownes way.

FLea the fat Lard from the flesh, and put in bay salt, ye must cast a good deale vppon it, and euen so salt it, and roule it together round, and so put it in a heap of salt, and when ye will occupie any of it, cut of it as yee need, and lay it in water, and so ye may keepe it as long as ye will.

(Note: there is one other way listed for keeping lard, which is to salt brine it)

So here we have one method which is salting it for about a month then drying it above a fire with no smoke, or drying it in the oven after the bread has baked (so a lower temperautre than the bread bakes at). Just incase there was a transcription error there I went to the original (see the facsimile linked above):

drying bacon

So no mistake, when making bacon at home you don’t smoke it, you just salt and dry it.

The other method listed is even more basic and is essentially the salt-packing method I use for salting meat. In none of the three cases is it smoked.

Of course this is not to imply at all that it was not smoked ever. Food in Medieval England mentions that smoked bacon was mostly for the wealthy as the added step increases the cost (and also increases the safety of the food). And based on what I’ve found it seems that smoking was an option, but not a necessity, and likely not done when preparing your own bacon, rather something done by a butcher.

Fast forwarding 70 years to 1669 we get “The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight Opened” (link).

ABOUT ORDERING BACON FOR GAMBONS, AND TO KEEP

At Franckfort they use the following cautions about the Bacon they salt for Gambons or sides to keep. The best is of male Hogs of two year old, that have been gelt, when they were young. They kill them in the wane of the Moon, from a day or two after the full, till the last quarter. They fetch off their hair with warm-water, not by burning (which melteth the fat, and maketh it apt to grow resty), and after it hath lain in the open air a full day, they salt it with dry Salt, rubbing it in well: Then lay what quantity you will in a tub for seven or eight days (in which time the Salt dissolveth to water); then take it out, and wipe it dry, and hang it in a room, where they keep fire, either on a hearth, or that smoak cometh out of a stove into the room (as most of those rooms do smoak) but hang them not in the Chimney, that the hot smoak striketh upon them; but if you have a very large Chimney, hang them pretty high and aside, that the smoak may not come full upon them. After a while, (when they are dry) take them thence, and hang them from the smoak in a dry warm room. When the weather groweth warm as in May, there will drop from them a kinde of melted oyly grease, and they will heat, and grow resty, if not remedied. Take them down then, and lay them in a cold dry place, with hay all about them, that one may not touch another. Change the Hay every thirty, or twenty, or fifteen days, till September, when the weather groweth cool; then hang them up again in the free air, in a dry Chamber. If you make the shoulders into Gambons, you must have a care to cut away a little piece of flesh within, called in Dutch the Mause; for if that remain in it, the Bacon will grow resty.

Here we have a bacon that is, again, salted and dried and smoking is given as a recommended option, but only if it is cold smoked, and only lightly smoked. Hot smoked meat doesn’t last as long, and the fat can turn rancid. The point of this was food preservation, not necessarily flavour – that was more of a bonus.

Our first actual recipes (with proportions) for bacon don’t show up till the mid 1700s. “A New and Easy Method of Cookery” by Elizabeth Cleland published in Edinburgh in 1755 it has this to say:

To make Hams or Bacon

Salt them on a Table, and lay a Weight on them for two or three Days, then to every Ham or Flitch of bacon, take a Pount of white Salt, a Pound of Bay Salt, two Ounces of Salt-Petre, and two of Petersalt, a quarter of a Pound of brown Sugar; mix them all together, and warm them pretty hot; lay your Hams in a Trough, and rub them very well, turn and rub them every day for three Weeks; then hang them up to dry by a slow Fire, Wood, or Saw-dust, is the best to dry them with.

For those wondering what that works out to in modern measurements:

  • Per side of bacon (about 23 lbs)
  • 1 lb white salt
  • 1 lb bay salt
  • 2 oz salt-petre
  • 2 oz petersalt
  • ¼ lb brown sugar

In fact that was about the standard recipe. In the 1780s in “The farmer’s wife; or complete country housewife” we get this recipe:

For a hog of about fourteen stone provide half a peck of common salt, a quarter of a pound of salt-petre, one pound of peter salt, and half a pound of corase sugar. These ingredients must be well mixed together over a fire, in an iron pan, and when they are very hot, salt the several pieces of pork with them, not grudging a little labour. (p23)

And again in modern measurements:

  • For 196 lb of meat:
  • 2 gallons salt (36 lbs)
  • 1/4 lb salt-petre
  • 1 lb peter salt
  • 1/2 lb course sugar

I worked out the basic salt/saltpeter/sugar mix for the two. Here it is with the modern ratio as well:

1755:

  • Salt: 80%
  • Saltpeter: 10%
  • Sugar: 10%

1780:

  • Salt: 95.3%
  • Saltpeter: 3.3%
  • Sugar: 1.3%

Modern:

  • Salt: 49.5%
  • Saltpeter: 0.5%  (see later discussion of saltpeter)
  • Sugar: 49.5%

No, that’s not a typo, the modern bacon has between five and ten times more sugar than early-modern bacon and less than a tenth of the amount of saltpeter and half the salt. Incidentally the 0.5% saltpeter in the modern formula doesn’t seem to have changed since J. Q. Hewlitt’s recipe in the 1800s. All of the modern recipes vary from 0.3% to 0.7%.

All of the 18th century bacons are smoked, but there is reference in  “The compleat farmer: or, the whole art of husbandry” (1759) to the differences between continental bacon and British bacon. The British bacon is lightly smoked and only for a short time but they use saltpeter (more on this later) while the continental bacon was made without, or with very little, saltpeter and was heavily smoked. Both of these methods help with the food safety issue, especially as the smoking in the continental case is done cold smoked. Based on this line I suspect that the British bacon wasn’t quite so strict about using cold smoke:

But these foreigners are but a small share of salt, in comarison to what we do in England and Ireland, relying chiefly upon the smoak for curing their bacon; while on the other hand our bacon-makers depend chiefly on the quantity of salt; and imagine that it will secure it from the over heat of the fire that is given it in drying. (75)

In all cases the most important thing was keeping the bacon from turning, either through botulism or through the fat going rancid. This is done by ensuring temperature control and managing your water level during primary curing. The salt removes the water from the meat (plasmolysis) while the saltpeter or smoke creates a bacteriostatic environment so that food born illnesses cannot grow. Smoke (in the heavily smoked bacons of the continent) also helps toward this by creating an anaerobic environment. The final part of this is temperature control again, even after the primary curing the fat in the meat may turn if it’s dried at temperatures above the low twenties (Celsius).

Very likely the decision for lots of salt & saltpeter or a little salt (and likely saltpeter) and lots of smoke probably has more to do with production costs than anything else. England for most of its history was a major producer of salt (sea salt) and saltpeter (mines, factories, and gathering from near stables, if you want to learn more about Saltpeter production, or how it was used militarily see here), neither one being rare, but in a landlocked country it would be harder to have the large quantities of salt to offset the saltpeter (saltpeter is poisonous in quantities of about four grams and above), thus smoke chambers become a much more economical method for curing meat. However the British, using saltpeter, had fewer worries about the temperature of the final stage of curing so the use of cold smoke chambers (built in attics and attached with a flue to the chimney) was less prominent, leading to the use of warmer smoke in the curing process which would have been impossible without the saltpeter (and probably still wasn’t a great idea). Saltpeter would likely have been used both on the continent and in England. Although hot-smoking or warm-smoking shouldn’t be done without nitrites cold-smoking is almost as dangerous.

Essentially, based on a combination between the period and early modern sources, bacon must be salt cured and then dried, with the best flavour coming from smoke drying – to the extent that by the 1750s all bacon has some smoke used. Pre-modern English bacon would have been heavily salted, heavily nitrated, and lightly sweetened. It’s important to note that “heavily nitrated” is a relative term. Very little saltpeter is needed to cure meat and prevent botulism. The amount needed pales in comparison to the amount required for gunpowder for example.

A few modern words about saltpeter now. Saltpeter is also called Potassium Nitrate (KNO3) and it inhibits bacterial growth and, working with salt, creates that required Bacteriostatic environment. The 18th century recipes call for two different kinds of Saltpeter to be mixed together. I have two theories about this; one is that by this time there are two types of Saltpeter one is the Potassium Nitrate that we know was used in period and the other is Sodium Nitrate – NaNO3 which seems to be primarily from the New World, and the other it this hint in a quotation I found, but I can’t find the original: “Nitre, while in its native state, is call’d Petre-Salt; when refin’d, Salt-Petrel (Glasse, 1747)”. Today, however, traditional saltpeter (KNO3) is regulated as it is an ingredient in explosives. You can still get Sodium Nitrate at sausage supply stores, but but without the Potassium Nitrate I’m unsure about how period it will be and the curing process is much longer than with Potassium Nitrate.  There is a modern solution though. Sodium Nitrate during the curing process turns into Sodium Nitrite (hence it taking longer to cure meat) and Sodium Nitrite (NaNO2) is relatively easy to find now and is a more effective chemical to achieve the same result. Sodium Nitrite is commercially available pre-mixed with salt as Prague Powder # 1, InstaCure #1, Belmont Cure, T.C.M., and DQ Curing Salt. Make sure you know what the percentages of salt to Sodium Nitrite are.

A note on food safety: the maximum maximum level of use for nitrite in Canada for cured meats is 200 ppm. So my bacon will be just under that (in realistic terms you would need to eat about four pounds of it in order to get nitrate poisoning) and will be lightly sweetened, taking the 10% sugar from the 1755 recipe as it will appeal slightly more to modern tastes and will hopefully offset the additional salt content. With that the rub works out to this:

  • Salt: 88.15%
  • Saltpeter: 1.85%
  • Sugar: 10%

The key concept behind the making of bacon is of course curing it. Here is the modern take on curing bacon, and as you see it’s virtually unchanged over the last several hundred years (with the exception of being done at a steady 0-4 degrees Celsius rather than at whatever temperature the cellar is.

Dry-salting is the traditional favoured method for raw-cured meat. Meat cuts (entire pieces of muscle meat) are rubbed with curing salt. Thereafter these meat pieces are packed in curing tanks and piled on top of each other with layers of curing salt between them and stored at low temperatures (0 to +4°C). The curing salt infiltrates the meat tissue and at the same time liquid from the meat tissue is extracted by the salt surrounding the meat. The liquid accumulates at the bottom of the curing container. Sometimes, this liquid covers the lower piles of meat pieces and contributes an additional curing and flavouring effect, in other cases this liquid is drained out. Due to the weight of the rubbed meat cuts, the pressure within the pile is higher at the bottom of the container. This results in faster liquid loss and salt infiltration. For equal distribution (uniform exchange process) re-piling and adding of dry curing salt should be carried out every seven days with the lower piles up and the upper ones down. 

Once this is done you can clean off the salt and let the meat finish drying and curing either hung (and again lets remember what temperature can do to fat so keep it cold) or smoked (yes you can hot smoke it, but cold smoking it makes it last longer).

Now for a bit on early food safety. No one likes Clostridium botulinum. No really it will kill you. And humans, not being fans of death, worked out quite early how to avoid it. Properly cured meat is safe, but how do you tell? Going back to the 1759 book:

And for want of using this caution, bacon has sometimes grown rusty before it was half made; and sometimes it will be red half through and green in the middle.

It is a rule that whatever is red in the flesh of bacon is fully cured, and what is not will be subject to decay.

And the 1780 book also has this to say:

If in ten days or a fortnight any of the pieces do not feel hard to the touch, you must rub some more salt upon them. In three weeks the pork will be fit for use.

So here is your basic “this bacon has turned” checklist:

  1. Smell – it shouldn’t smell “off” at all
  2. Look – it should be red/pink all the way through in the middle
  3. Feel – it should be hard to the touch

To use the medieval version go to Epulario, or The Italian Banquet by Giovanne de Rosselli (1598)

To know if a Gammon of Bacon be good.
If you wil know when a Gammon is good, thrust a knife in the middell of it, and if the knife being pulled out smelleth, it is good: if to the contrary, it is not good. And if you will have it to keep long, take White wine or Vineger, and as much water, but better without water, and therein boile the gammon of Bacon till it be halfe sod, then take it off the fire, and let it soke in the liquor till it be cold, then take it out, and in this manner it will be good, and continue long.

He recommends checking the middle of the bacon slab to make sure it hasn’t turned.

There should be no issue with doing this at a temperature of up to 15 degrees Celsius but you should probably used your fridge for your first few tries. Pork is a bit more dangerous of a meat to work with than beef or venison (see my salting work). You also need to be more concerned about the amount of airflow (bad early, good late). Instead you can just use the fridge (should be between 0 and 4 degrees and mine averages 2.3 degrees).

And now for the main event:

Based on the research above I’m going to do a salt/sugar/sodium nitrite rub on my meat and then pack it in salt (no additional curing salt or sugar). This way I am ensuring my sodium nitrite level is the same for the entire piece of meat while still being closer to the medieval curing.

Ingredients:

  • 77g curing salt (I use 5% sodium nitrite, this needs to be adjusted if you’re using a different percentage)
  • 154g salt (kosher or pickling salt)
  • 15g sugar
  • 10g brown sugar (altering the flavour a bit. Likely they wouldn’t have used the highest quality sugar in this so no need to use pure white sugar)
  • 3 lb pork belly
  • Extra salt (remember that bit about the bacon being packed in salt in the 14th-16th centuries)

 

  1. Blend sugar and salt
  2. Remove skin (use it for cracklings or sausage)
  3. Rub the salt mixture into the pork belly well (give it a good firm massage)
  4. Salt the bottom of your air tight container with the extra salt
  5. Place pork on the bed of salt
  6. cover with more salt
  7. Place something heavy on top (optional)
  8. Seal the container
  9. Refrigerate
  10. Every 3-5 days take the meat flip it before returning to the fridge, adding a bit more salt to the top (optional and not necessarily period but it should speed the process, more needed if not using a weight)
  11. After ten to twenty days remove the meat, rinse off the extra salt, and pat dry – NOTE if the meat doesn’t feel hard yet keep curing it
  12. Place meat on wire rack on a baking sheet and return to fridge (unsealed)
  13. Let the meat dry for a few days
  14. At this point you can let your meat keep drying in the fridge, hang your meat to dry in a cool place, or smoke it (cold smoke recommended)

Serving:

I’ve come across a number of recipes calling for soaking your bacon before you use it. Due to the crazy amount of salt used that’s probably a good idea. I cooked up five different pieces of bacon, one soaked for 5 minutes, one soaked for 30 minutes, one soaked for 60 minutes, one boiled (low boil) for 30 minutes, and one soaked for 30 minutes and then boiled for 30 minutes.

  • 5 min soak
    • still stiff, salty to the point of incredibility
  • 30 min soak
    • inedible except for the crispest parts
  • 60 min soak
    • tasty but still salty, would be perfect for larding meat
  • 30 min boil
    • tastes great, a little salt left, takes on some flavour from the oil I cooked it in
  • 30 min soak 30 min boil
    • Very similar to the 30 min boil, very little salt flavour, absorbs other flavours easily

Based on all of this I recommend soaking for an hour if you’re planning on larding something with it and boiling if you’re planning on eating it directly.

For this experiment the final test was of course Culinary Night. I boiled the bacon for a half hour then cooked it in the following manner:

The Good Huswifes Jewell 1596

To frie Bakon.
Take Bacon and slice it very thinne, and
cut awaye the leane, and bruse it with
the backe of your knife, and fry it in sweet
Butter, and serue it.

Yes, I fried bacon in butter, and it was delicious. The bacon, once it’s been boiled or soaked, absorbs the flavour of whatever you cook it in, so when I cooked it up crispy (even though I prefer my modern bacon limp rather than crispy this bacon tastes best crispy) it had some of the butter flavour in it.

Bacon about to be devoured
Bacon about to be devoured

Final notes:

After writing this novella of documentation I came across a few more references to how to make bacon.

In general most parts of the pig are salted or brined, but smoking is generally reserved for whole carcasses, pork/hams, or sausage but rarely for bacon. The Romans seem to have smoked all of the pig with no preference based on part of the animal.

With that here are some additional quotes:

On smoking a whole animal, Italian 1475

Platina, and Mary Ella Milham. Platina, on Right Pleasure and Good Health: a Critical Edition and Translation of De Honesta Voluptate Et Valetudine.

II 21. On Pork Cuts
When a pig becomes a year old, it is fit for salting. The day before it is butchered, it is best to keep it from drinking because its flesh will be drier, then it should be salted carefully so that it will not rot or taste withered or be damaged by worms or grubs. When you make a brine, put salt in the bottom of a pot or jar, then lay the pieces in with the skin down. The meat should remain in the jars until it absorbs the salt, then it should be hung up on a meat-rack where the smoke may penetrate it. From it you can take lard at will, ham, shoulder, sowbelly, tenderloin. For this reason farmers not undeservedly call it a “briny cut” because much can be cut off to eat, just as when the same thing is done from the garden, the farmers call it a “good cutting.” Similarly many parts are gathered together from freshly-killed pork for relishes. Fat pork meat, not only fresh but salted, although it arouses the taste-buds, is still entirely dangerous and of bad juice, as Celsus says.

A reminder to not smoke your sausage if you have bacon in it or the fat will turn, Bavaria 1553

Sabina Welserin’s cookbook
Armstrong, Valoise, trans. Sabina Welserin’s cookbook.

23. If you would make a good sausage for a salad
Then take ten pounds of pork and five pounds of beef, always two parts pork to one part of beef. That would be fifteen pounds. To that one should take eight ounces of salt and two and one half ounces of pepper, which should be coarsely ground, and when the meat is chopped, put into it at first two pounds of bacon, diced. According to how fat the pork is, one can use less or more, take the bacon from the back and not from the belly. And the sausages should be firmly stuffed. The sooner they are dried the better. Hang them in the parlor or in the kitchen, but not in the smoke and not near the oven, so that the bacon does not melt. This should be done during the crescent moon, and fill with the minced meat well and firmly, then the sausages will remain good for a long while. Each sausage should be tied above and below and also fasten a ribbon on both ends with which they should be hung up, and every two days they should be turned, upside down, and when they are fully dried out, wrap them in a cloth and lay them in a box.

Although I won’t say that bacon was always unsmoked until the end of the 16th century, after having gone through the research I will say that for the average person in England their bacon would not have been smoked.

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