Where is Bacon on a Pig?

Bacon

Bacon is both spectacular and mysterious!  Crispy, salty, meaty and delicious.  

People have a lot of questions about bacon and one of the most common is, “Where is Bacon on a Pig?

Let’s get that question answered for you!

What most Americans call bacon is made from the belly of the pig.  However, there are several different types of bacon that are made from other parts of the animal.  Some examples are:

  • Canadian bacon is made from the loin of a pig. 
  • English back bacon is a combination of a pig’s loin and belly.
  • Buckboard bacon is made from the shoulder of a pig.
  • Jowl bacon is made from a pig’s cheeks.

 

Where is Bacon on a Pig

Diagram courtesy of Smithfield.

Why Are There So Many Types of Bacon on a pig?

There is no strict definition for what is bacon.  Bacon is best defined rather loosely as a salt cured meat that is sliced thin and cooked.

Bacon originated as a way of preserving food before the advent of refrigeration.  Historically fresh pork would need to be immediately consumed or transformed into a product that could be safely stored for later consumption.

The best way of preserving pork was to pack it in salt.

Some cuts of salt cured pork would later be soaked in water to remove excess salt and cooked whole.  This was the typical treatment for the hams.

Other cuts of the pork would be sliced thin and fried.  This is what we now know as bacon.

There are many cuts of pork other than the hams and the belly and they were preserved in the same manner.  This is how we end up with bacon made from so many different parts of a pig!

Here is a great article that discusses the difference between American, Canadian and English bacon.

How is Bacon Made Today?

The process of salt curing meat has evolved over the years and is now much more scientific.

The most important step in making bacon is using just enough salt and nitrites in the cure mix.  The nitrites are added to help inhibit bacterial growth and is an essential safety measure to prevent botulism.

Here is a great video that shows how commercial bacon is made today.

If you want to make your own bacon then here are some helpful links:

Here is a technique for making Buckboard Bacon from a pork shoulder.

Here is a technique for making Canadian Bacon from a pork loin.

Here is a technique for making American style bacon from a pork belly.

Other Types of Bacon

Did you know that people make bacon from animals other than pigs?

It is true!

You can get bacon that has been made from beef, bison and lamb.  Of course there is the ubiquitous “turkey bacon” that is more akin to a processed and formed meat product than an actual piece of bacon.

Bacon made from beef is extremely popular in cultures that prohibit the consumption of pork.  The beef belly is typically used for bacon.

Lamb bacon has a deeper flavor profile that pork bacon but can be hard to find in stores.

Where is Bacon on a Pig