Bacon Week: Canned Bacon

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Yeah, that was pretty much my initial reaction to this product, too. Gross. I drifted away, thinking of the worst examples of the canned meat kingdom: potted meat, Vienna sausage, canned ham, and of course, SPAM.

Opening a Can of Yoder’s Canned Bacon

Astute reader Joel sent me a link Monday to one of the most frightening web sites I think I’ve ever visited, with the certain exception of one Nate sent me last week (link withheld). MREDepot.com sells preparedness supplies (MRE stands for “Meal Ready to Eat” in army lingo), and does so with a wee bit of bravado and the ominous-sounding tagline “When disaster strikes, the time to prepare has passed …” Their customer service is, however, excellent. I ordered this product on Tuesday morning, and it was in my hands on Friday (I was too cheap to spring for express shipping), having shipped the day I ordered it. That’s the kind of preparedness I can get behind.

We had a few people over to brew beer yesterday, which provided me the opportunity to spring Yoder’s Canned Bacon on some unsuspecting friends, that is until Sarah put the kibosh on it. The guests and Sarah received some excellent farmer’s market bacon for their backyard BLT’s, while I went for the canned stuff. The things I do in the name of science …

Under the Lid Hides … Bacon

The MREDepot.com site has gratuitous photos of the unpacking process, so I’ll cut to the chase … basically the good folks at Yoder’s take 3 pounds of raw bacon, cook it, put it down on three sheets of butcher paper, roll the paper up, and stick it in a can. When you open the can, you do the opposite process: open can, remove rolled bacon, unroll, and remove from the paper. No aspic, no gross bacon juice to pour off, just bacon and paper inside (cue Intel sound).

Unrolling the Yoder’s Bacon

Beyond the very odd presentation, it was actually pretty good bacon. Way better than fast-food bacon, but not as good as rolling your own homemade bacon. Being in a can, it wasn’t crispy or warm, but a few minutes in a skillet would probably bring it up to the “delicious” category. This is legit bacon, from a can, and if the apocalypse comes, I would totally eat this again.

Canned bacon on the plate

Bacon Week: Bacon Facts

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Kicking off Bacon Week, I spent a little time in front of the meat case at my local grocer, trying to see things with fresh eyes. What I saw was choice, and lots of it. There’s Turkey bacon (hardly bacon), smoked bacon, unsmoked bacon, cured and uncured bacon, nitrate-free bacon … it can be a little confusing. So, I asked the good folks at the National Pork Board if they’d provide some bacon guidance, and Cathy Lee Frederickson, their Online Content Manager, was kind enough to do an e-mail interview with The Champagne of Blogs.

The Champagne of Blogs: There’s a lot of terminology at the butcher counter when it comes to bacon. What is bacon exactly?

National Pork Board: The cut used to make bacon comes from the side – or belly – of the pig. When it is cured and smoked, it becomes bacon. An abundance of fat gives bacon its sweet flavor and tender crispiness.

Please note that Canadian bacon is in fact cured pork loin. It is an extremely lean choice, with only 2 grams of fat per slice. The taste and texture of Canadian bacon is similar to ham.

TCOB: What’s the difference between cured and uncured bacon? Smoked/unsmoked?

NPB: Pork belly comes from a hog’s ‘belly’ or underside after the loin and spareribs have been removed. This boneless cut may be served fresh, which means it is not cured or smoked. Pork belly is not widely available in supermarkets, but can be ordered by meatcase managers upon request. Pork belly is at its best and is most tender when prepared using a slow cooking method, such as braising. Pork belly also is a popular menu item among restaurant chefs who appreciate its versatility, flavor and texture.

Bacon is side meat that is cured and smoked.

Pancetta is also cut from the belly – like bacon – but is cured and unsmoked. Pancetta is when pork belly is rubbed with salt or immersed in a brine until the salt completely penetrates the meat. Then the meat is rubbed with aromatic herbs and spices. It is eaten thinly sliced as a cold cut or used to enhance flavor.

TCOB: How long can fresh bacon be kept in the fridge? How long can cooked bacon be kept?

NPB: For packaged bacon, store in the package in the coldest part of the refrigerator at a temperature between 36 and 40 degrees F. Check the freshness date (“open by date”) on the package. Once the package is opened, use within five to seven days.

To freeze bacon, unopened packaged bacon should be stored at 0 degrees F. for up to one month. To store smaller amounts, wrap two to six slices tightly in plastic wrap, then store in small freezer bags. Defrost by submerging the freezer bags in cold water for 10 minutes.

Generally, cooked pork should only be kept in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

TCOB: As you have probably witnessed, bacon has become something of a cultural obsession in the US. Why do you think bacon has achieved such notoriety/infamy/obsession? What has it got that ham/prosciutto/jerky doesn’t?

NPB: I can’t say for sure. In my own personal opinion, because it’s awesome, also I believe Homer Simpson might have something to do with that.

TCOB:What’s the weirdest bacon-related thing you’ve ever seen?

NPB: Bacon Flag/Pledge, International Bacon Day, the Royal Bacon Society, the Bacon Martini, and my personal favorite, the Bacon Alarm Clock.

TCOB: This may shock you, but supermarket “Bacon Bits” are actually vegetarian … what’s up with that?

NPB: Stick with the real thing.

TCOB: We will. Of course we will. Thanks for your time, Cathy.

Bacon Week: Bacon Bandages

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While moving some desks and computers around at work this afternoon, I mashed the knuckle of my middle finger on my right hand. I’m not terribly injury-prone, but I have been carrying in my work bag a solution to just such a problem since Monday morning: a tin of Bacon Bandages, again from the fine folks at Archie McPhee. Hey, they say salt heals all wounds. Or is that time?

The most surprising thing about these bandages is how well-made they are … the printing quality is very high, and the die-cut shape of the bandages is very cool … these are a fashion statement as much as a wound cover.

Bacon Bandage

Bacon Week: Bacon Mints

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Of all the bacon products I have received for review this week, Uncle Oinker’s Bacon Mints are the one I have been most dreading. Reviews online are pretty universally negative: ” … One of the worst tasting candies/mints I have ever had …” and, “Surprisingly, these mints smell worse than they actually taste” are pretty typical comments. So I decided to play the “unbiased observer card,” and made my co-workers and friends do the review for me. I took their reactions as they tasted, and I’ll let you decide for yourself whether or not you’d put one of these mints in your mouth.

Andrew Hay Eating Bacon Mints

Tom Potterf Eating Bacon Mints

Brian Sullivan Eating Bacon Mints

Anton Legoo Eating Bacon Mints

Kevin Platt Eating Bacon Mints

Chris Schenk Eating Bacon Mints

Jen Wakeman Eating Bacon Mints

Bruce Kehe Eating Bacon Mints

Becca Dobosh Eating Bacon Mints

Michael Drobrusevich Eating Bacon Mints

Nicole De Jong Eating Bacon Mints

Jay Cornelius Eating Bacon Mints

Eryn Deeming-Kehe Eating Bacon Mints