Food Preservation Skills: Learning to Cure and Smoke Bacon
We’ve started a new rule. In an effort to gradually reduce our meat intake, the Hubs and I are also trying to learn more about preparing certain meat products at home. If we can’t make it, then we don’t buy it, and so we don’t eat it at home. For months now we’ve been grinding our own meat to make sausages, chillis, hamburgers, etc. It’s a lot of work, but removing that convenience and instant gratification made us more aware of our meat consumption.
Bacon…is something that’s been difficult to give up, but if we can make our own, we’re committed to stop purchasing the industrialized version of this product. This is our first time making bacon and our first time smoking meat, which is a food preservation skill we’ve been wanting to learn. Without a smokehouse or a lot of outdoor space, we used our grill to simulate the smoking effect. Not saying we did everything perfectly - we need a lot more practice - but this homemade hickory smoked bacon may be the first time I’ve had real smoked bacon, as opposed to the liquid smoke that’s poured over the commercial products. Homemade bacon is also hammier…it doesn’t crisp up the way store-brought does. I’m also delighted that I can better control the flavoring and amount of salt to use when curing the meat.
How do my other homesteaders do smoking? We’d love to hear your experiences! Anyway, 10/10, would try to make our own bacon again!
He woke up with a start, mildly disoriented as he tried to
place what had woken him. But he couldn’t figure it out. He was just about to
go back to sleep when he heard the sound again.
That and the fact that the spot beside him on the bed was
empty was enough to let him know exactly who he was looking for even before he
slid out of the bed and slipped into his slippers. He pulled on the black silk
robe on the chair beside the bed, belted it and walked out of the bedroom, eyes
used to the darkness as he went searching for his errant boyfriend.
He found him in the pantry, a look of intense concentration
on his face as he studied the pantry, full lower lip caught in between his
teeth as he deliberated on whatever he was thinking so hard about.
He was so focused on studying the contents of the pantry that he
startled when Magnus slipped his arms behind him and rested his face against
But then he relaxed and yielded and Magnus hummed.
“Alexander, I know you’re obsessed with everything in the pantry having
its ‘proper place’, but I like it the way it is, I know where everything is.
And most importantly, two o'clock in the morning is not the right time to go on
a redecorating spree.”
isn’t sure the dust will ever settle for life on the ground. The piercing scent
of burning rubble hangs thick in the air as the orange glow finally begins to
fade, swallowed up by the blackness of night.
hours of treating inhalation injuries and burns, the stream of patients has
finally trickled down to a halt. The makeshift med-bay is completely full of
recovering patients, but by some miracle, none of them are in critical
gives Clarke a tired smile as she makes her way over. “I think we’ve got this
covered, Clarke, if you need to go take care of other things.”
squeezes her shoulder with a grateful nod, “Thank you, Harper.”
takes one more glance around and spots Bellamy on the far side of the room,
speaking in hushed tones with Miller. As if he can sense her gaze on him, he
meets her eyes with a barely perceptible nod. She fights the urge to squirm
under a stare so intense it feels like it’s physically holding her in place.
one look, she’s transported back to the quarry. She swallows back a bolt of
nausea at the vivid memory of the wind being knocked out of her as the bag was
pulled off Bellamy’s head. She reminds herself that he’s safe. He’s here. He’s
still with her. He wraps up his conversation with Miller and makes his way back
to her with slow, steady strides that contrast the erratic rhythm of her heart, not
once taking his eyes off her.
Meet the man responsible for helping to make the modern preservation of food and other products a reality for billions of people across the world today. While his research helped to combat spoilage and rancidity in food, he earned 59 U.S. patents too. Oh, and also improved the bacon-curing process (you’re welcome for that one). So, what else did he do?
Dalish Food Preservation: Jerky, Pemmican, and Hot-Pot
For most cultures throughout Thedas, preserved foods are a necessity. For the peoples of the Anderfels, and the Elves of the Dalish Clans, this is especially true. The Anders have to deal with the volatile climate of the Anderfels, and the Dalish must deal with their nomadic lifestyle which leaves little room for fresh food storage of any meaningful value.
One thing many cultures have in common throughout Thedas, and even our own real world, is that each cultures has some variation of dried meats. In Thedas, two kinds of dried meats are very ubiquitous throughout most cultures that still make liberal use of preservation: Jerky, and Pemmican.
Jerky is meat that has been sliced or pounded very thin, and then dried with the aid of liberal amounts of salt and seasonings. In the modern era, we usually use nitrates of some kind to aid in the curing of meats like Jerky. In Thedas, and our own middle ages, however, they would have used only salt.
The Dalish typically make their jerky using salt, ironbark syrup (which is similar in flavor to mollasses), fermented rashvine sap and various herbs and spices that are native to the area in which they are staying. For example, Dalish clans in Ferelden and the Free Marches typically use a lot of borage, bay leaf, mint, juniper berries and parsley in their jerky.
Pemmican is essentially a loaf of dried/cured meat, mixed with fat and sometimes other ingredients. Some cultures add fruits and grains, whereas others use only meat, fat and seasoning.
In our own world, it is unknown who truly invented pemmican, but the word comes from the language of the Cree, one of the many indigenous peoples of North America.
Likewise, in Thedas, it is unknown who invented Pemmican. But almost every culture has, or used to have, a variant of it. The Dalish variation is known as ghial’bradh and incorporates a lot of dried berries and wild grains.
Hot-pot, hochepot, or hodgepodge is a stew made of a mixture of various ingredients, usually whatever the cook has on hand at the time. In many cultures throughout thedas, hot-pot is made with pemmican or some other cured or preserved food as its base.
Most cultures througout thedas have a variant of Hot-Pot. In Fereldan and the Free Marches, it is known as either hodgepodge, or rubaboo. In Orlais it is known as hochepot. In Antiva it is known as either mezcolanza or misto. In Nevarra it is known as miktí, and in Tevinter it is known as farrago.
Among the Dalish, it is known as grid’iathe. It is typically made with Dalish ghial’bradh along with whatever fresh vegetables, grains and herbs that Dalish clan is able to forage.
DALISH MEAT JERKY (Dil’Selem)
Dalish jerky is usually made from wild ram, bear, sheep or boar meat. However, some clans will trade with human settlements for mutton, pork and beef.
Ingredients yield: about 1.5 lbs of jerky
¾ cup hickory salt (about 6 oz by weight) (pickling salt will work fine)
¼ c ironbark syrup (Maple syrup, molasses, or honey will work fine)
1 large amrita vein bulb or 4 arbor blessing bulbs, crushed (4 spring onions or 4 cloves of garlic will work fine)
2 large spoonfuls purified and fermented rashvine sap (2 tbs Worcestershire sauce plus 2 tbs black pepper will work fine)
5 pounds fresh meat
spices of choice (vary by clan, so just use your favorites, or none at all)
Rub the meat with the salt, making sure to cover every inch of meat in a thin layer of slay. If you need to use more than ¾ cup, do so. However, do not use less than ½ cup.
Lay the meat on a rack in a large container and allow to rest in a cold place for at least 12 hours (the Dalish usually use tightly packed snow or ice, but i’m pretty sure a fridge will work fine). Do not allow the meat to rest for more than 48 hours.
Check the meat every day to check to see if any liquid needs to drained from the container. Make sure that any liquid that is drawn from the meat does not touch the meat. While there is enough salt on the meat to prevent bacterial formations, the same cannot be said for any liquid that is leeched out by the salt. Make sure to remove liquid when necessary.
After 12 hours, remove the meat and wash thoroughly, making sure to remove all salt. Then vigorously pat dry until the surface of the meat is completely dry.
Once dry, slice meat into long, thin strips no larger than ¼ inch thick. Make sure to slice the meat with the grain, otherwise your jerky will fall apart once dried.
Combine syrup, crushed bulbs, rashvine sap and any other spices of choice in a bowl until you form a smooth paste.
Dip each piece of meat into your seasoning paste, making sure that each piece is thoroughly coated in a very thin layer of seasoning.
Dry your meat using a wire rack over a low burning fire for at least 24 hours, or until fully dried.
In the real world: use a food dehydrator, making sure the temperature stays between 130 and 140 degrees at all times. Dry your jerky until it is firm and stiff but not ready to fall apart.
Alternatively, you can dry your jerky in the oven, making sure to use your oven’s lowest setting and leaving the oven door slightly open.
DALISH PEMMICAN (Ghial’bradh)
Similar to Dalish jerky, Pemmican or ghial’bradh is typically made with ram, bear, sheep or boar meat. Unlike jerky, however, it is not as salty, and usually incorporates dried fruit and grains. What results is a thick, dry meat ‘bread’ that is usually stored and then sliced to be heated and eaten later.
Many Dalish clans will store ghial’bradh is bags made of animal hide. These bags can be made to be air-tight and oftentimes clans will bury bags of excess ghial’bradh and leave specific markers so that other Dalish clans can make use of their good fortune later.
yield: about 3 lbs of pemmican
5 lbs of fresh meat
1.5 lbs of suet (animal kidney fat, specifically of beef, venison and pork)
2 oz (by weight) dried fruit
1 oz (by weight) cup cooked, drained and dried wild rice, or wild wheat berries
Slice meat very thin against the grain.
Dry meat on a wire rack over a very low smokey fire for about 24 hours until completely dry. (alternatively, dry on your oven’s lowest setting with the door slightly open for about 10-12 hours. If you use a dehydrator, bake your meat strips in the oven for 30 minutes at 200, and then use your dehydrator normally). Meat should be completely dry and brittle once done.
Using a mortar and pestle, ground your dried meat into a coarse powder (alternatively, you can use a food processor in the modern world).
Make sure the amount of dried meat is equal (in weight) to the amount of rendered fat you have. Adjust if needed.
Melt your rendered fat completely, but do not allow it to become too hot.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked grain, dried fruit and meat powder.
Add your rendered fat and stir until combined into a smooth paste.
Pour your paste into molds of your choice (the dalish use clay bread pans) and pat down to get rid of any air bubbles. Store in a cool place until set and firm.
Remove pemmican from your mold and wrap in cloth (or use plastic wrap if you live in the real world).
Your pemmican will keep for longer if you choose to omit the fruit and grain. Many Dalish clans would choose to leave out the fruit and grain until it was time to eat, and then they would mix the pemmican with the fruit and grain in a large bowl before eating.
Do remember that pemmican is very high in calories. 1 pound of pemmican typically contains 3000 calories, so it is very much not a food that you want to snack on. This is, however, the perfect food to take when you go backpacking or camping (or if you’re a constantly travelling nomadic Dalish clan).
Additionally, I recommend buying pre-rendered suet if you can get it, but if you’re interested in being a bit more traditional, check out this instructional video on how to render your own suet.
DALISH HOT-POT (Grid’iathe)
yield: about 8 portions
1 pound Dalish pemmican (ghial’bradh)
1 large bowl rashvine nettles, boiled, drained and washed (feel free to using stinging nettles or fiddleheads instead. Learn how to prepare stinging nettles here, and how to prepare fiddleheads here. Warning: Never EVER eat fiddleheads or nettles raw.)
1 large bowl fresh elfroot, washed and drained (you can use spinach or kale instead)
1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
6 large Amrita Vein bulbs, roughly chopped (or 2 large onions)
Any other fresh vegetables and herbs you can forage (or buy at ye olde grocery store)
½ pound fresh wild rice or wild wheat berries (you can use farro or rye berries if you like)
1 spoonful of lard or butter (you can use vegetable oil as well)
Salt to taste
Roughly chop your pemmican
Heat the butter or lard in a large pot. Once the butter has started to brown, add your onions. Cook until translucent, and then add all of your other vegetables.
Put in another water to cover all of the vegetables by at least 2 inches.
Add in your chopped pemmican and wild rice. Cook until stew has reduced to a thick consistency and pemmican and rice are fully cooked.
Add your rashvine nettles, elfroot, and any other fresh greens and herbs that you wish. Cook just long enough for them to wilt and release their flavor.
Season to taste and serve immediately with a large mug of fresh Dalish ale.
Your stew should have the consistency of thin chowder. If you wish for a thicker soup, simply use more grains.
Bon Appétit, or as they say among the Dalish: Son’ava!
NOTES: Part 2 of my submission for @simons-thirst-squad
ABC’s of Simon! Thank you so much @definitelynotanerd for your lovely comment! Also, I seriously contemplated calling this chapter “piggyback ride (gone sexual)” because I’m awful.
Simon refers to the place as ‘The
Sanctuary’, and I clear my throat as the truck growls past a
rain-weathered statue of a seraph covered in severed hands. They’re
bound to it by rope, strung on it like beads on a rosary and looped
around the crying angel’s throat.
“The Sanctuary? Don’t you think
that’s a bit of a stretch?” I say, and he shrugs. Sees me
cautiously eyeing the statue as it disappears into the distance.
Behind us, someone drags the chain-link doors noisily shut with a
resonant clang. Simon’s words linger in my mind, and I feel my skin
begin to prickle. Once those doors are shut, I’m here until I’m
“Don’t be put off by the hands. It’s
a running joke.”
“What kind of place is this?” I eye
him seriously. He worries his bottom lip for a moment. “I’m not exactly picking up good vibes.”
“I’ll let Negan do the talking.” He
returns his gaze to the road, shoulders tense. We ride in silence
until he pulls up alongside the main building.
I crane my neck to try and see where
the sprawling facility ends – it’s an old factory, boasting the
imposing angularity typical of 1960’s modernist architecture.
Complete with utilitarian iron staircases bracketed to the side of
the building and windows fogged by layers of dust and sediment so
thick that they seem to be decades old. The sun winks bright off the
windows like sharp teeth, and I squint against the dust kicked up by
the truck. My heart is racing.
Antipasto (plural: antipasti, “before the meal”) is the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal. It may include cured meats, olives, peperoncini, anchovies, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, cheeses, pickled meats, and vegetables in oil or vinegar. Its contents vary greatly by region. You may find different preparations of saltwater fish and traditional cured meats (soppressata, ‘nduja) in Southern Italy, whereas in the North, there may be other kinds of cured meats, mushrooms and, near lakes, preparations of freshwater fish. Cheeses also vary significantly between the regions. Some have compared antipasti to hors d'oeuvre or canapes, but antipasti are served at the table and signify the official beginning of the Italian meal, so it’s more of a starter or appetizer.
The first sign that something was amiss was the slight weakening of the wards on his prison. Rumplestiltskin awoke from a hazy sleep, not knowing how many days had passed, and not truly caring either, to the tickling sensation of magic. He frowned and started pacing the perimeter of his cell, but a moment later when Regina - no, this other Regina - showed up, he knew it had been caused by her.
What she’d said about being from another world sort of made sense. He’d read of such a thing going back to some of the oldest texts he could find. Everyone knew there were other realms, of course, but it was only a theory that there could also be copies of those worlds as well, a new one splitting off every time an important decision was made. That implied they were infinite in number, and the thought of more than one of him in existence was disconcerting to say the least.
As soon as he was left Princess Emma and the other Regina, he transported himself to Regina’s castle. Before his unfortunate and extended imprisonment, he’d discovered that Belle had never made it home to Avonlea, and further, that she’d tried to return to the Dark Castle only to be intercepted by this world’s Regina. Naturally, he assumed he would find his True Love in the highest tower, yet he hesitated before opening the door.
What do you get on your burgers. Personally I go for a bacon cheeseburger with pickle, onion (red, white, fried or a combination thereof), and an egg. Just about enough meat and grease to cure what ails you. Do you go for a high class fancy burger, or a cheap juicy diner type, or something else?
For us, lunch is the strong meal, so dinner is usually smaller and more simple.
We eat it between 9 and 10 pm, and it can consist of pasta soup,
light dishes (such as the recipe I posted yesterday),
or an omelette with bread with tomato and embotits or cheese.
I’m going to tell you how to make the most typical and characteristic Catalan food ever: Pa amb tomàquet.
It literaly just means bread with tomato. We eat it with everything. Any dish we may be eating, we always have a side of pa amb tomàquet next to it. It can also be a central dish in the form of a llesca.
It’s very simple, here’s what you have to do:
1. Get a loaf of bread and toast it a little bit.
2. Optional: cut a piece of garlic and rub it on the bread. Be careful not to do it too much, especially if you’re not used to its taste.
3. Cut a tomato on a half and rub half of the tomato on the bread. Yes, you’re doing it right. Simply rub it on the bread so some of it stays.
4. Add some olive oil and salt.
And you have pa amb tomàquet.
Now if you want to eat it for dinner, we would make a llesca, which is a big piece of pa amb tomàquet with embotit (traditional Catalan cured meat), cheese, Iberic ham, pâtes, olivada (olive pâte), or others.