Yesterday as I muddled through a data reconciliation, my oldest daughter texted me “Your meat is here”. My daughters aren’t really that interested in my bacon curing projects but they knew I had been waiting for 100 lbs of pork belly to arrive on my front porch. My youngest even obliged me with a picture. I couldn’t get home for another 3 hours and there was no way the girls would be able to carry that much weight into the house. All I could do it count the minutes until I could get home and dig into the boxes.
I’ve worked for Morningstar for almost 11 years. During that time, I’ve learned so much about markets, trading and economics. Morningstar was founded in Chicago which, at one time, boasted of being the hog butcher to the world. Frozen pork bellies were traded as a commodity on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange under the symbol PB (electronic symbol GPB) starting in 1961. There’s more info about commodity trading here.
If you are interested in following pork commodity information, Urner Barry Pork tweets a lot of market information under the handle of @UBpork. Did you know there were $17.554 million of pork bellies in cold storage in July? That sounds like a lot to me but this number signals an industry-wide shortage. Urner Barry has the details which, even for a hobby baconista, are really fascinating. They also cover egg, seafood and beef market trends.
Once I got home, I broke into the boxes and hauled the 4 frozen bellies into the houses individually. Factory farm-raised hog bellies run around 18 lbs. These bellies, raised on smaller farms with a little more care, ranged from 20-30 lbs apiece. This was the biggest one (pictured to the right…underneath it is my 6-burner stovetop…just for reference) after I cut it up . Once it was sliced into 4 pieces, the smallest piece weighed 7.3 lbs.
When these 4 pieces thaw, the next step is to apply a cure and let them sit for a week to 10 days. I cut the belly up because over the next four posts, I am going to show you how to prep the following:
- Maple-Cured Bacon
- Red Wine-Cured Bacon (throwing in an experiment with port wine on this one)
- Bourbon & Brown Sugar Bacon
- Black Pepper Bacon
Stay with me folks. If you like bacon, I hope these next few posts will convince you to start making your own.