Bacon is one of those foods that, once you hear the sizzling coming from the kitchen, your mouth starts watering in hungry anticipation. Whether you like your bacon on the side with eggs, or crumbled on top of a salad or even deep fried and covered in chocolate you’re not alone in your love of this salted, cured meat! As a matter of fact, more than 2 billion pounds of bacon are produced in the U.S. each year.
Our first introduction to bacon might well have come in the form of picking up a crispy piece and munching away at the breakfast table. The bacon slice then evolved into the ever-popular bacon, lettuce, and tomato (BLT) sandwich. We can thank the proliferation of year-round access to the “L” and the “T” around the World War II era for allowing us the option of having these sandwiches any time of year. The preparation of bacon is essentially the same – it is cured and smoked pork, various regions use different parts of the pig to make it; in the U.S. pork bellies are used, Canadian bacon is made from the rib eye of boneless pork loin, and most European countries use the ham (thigh) or shoulder to make bacon.
Americans have a love affair with bacon and have invented unusual uses for their favorite savory treat including: Chocolate covered bacon, candied bacon topped doughnut holes, Bacon-flavored ice-cream, bacon apple pie, bacon tattoos, bacon flags, bacon clothing, bacon bandaids and more!!
There are many types of bacon available in the grocery stores today, anything from smoked, to lightly salted, to low fat to maple flavored. Cuts of bacon vary as wildly as the flavors, from regular sliced bacon which is .062 inches thick (1/16 inch) 16 – 20 slices per pound to thin sliced bacon which is .031 inches thick (1/32 inch) 28 – 32 slices per pound, and thick sliced bacon which is .111 inches thick (1/8 inch) 10 – 14 slices per pound.
Of course, in order to cook up the bacon, someone has to bring it home, right? Did you ever wonder where the phrase, “bringing home the bacon” came from? There are a couple of different theories. The first is that it might have come from an English custom that originated in the 12th century, of giving a young couple bacon if they were still happy after a year of marriage. Or, it might have come from the “greased pig” competitions at county fairs in which the winner brought home a pig (bringing home the bacon!). Another possible theory is that the European peasants in the 1500s could rarely afford pork and so if they had bacon available in their home, they would hang up their bacon as a sign of their prosperity for any possible guests to see. The hanging of the bacon was a visible sign that the man of the household could “bring home the bacon.”
While heavy on salt and kind of high in calories, bacon has no trans fat at all. Several slices of bacon are healthier in terms of calories, salt, fat and cholesterol than a hot dog, hamburger or glazed donut. So whether it’s fried and eaten in a sandwich, with eggs, or even covered in chocolate, bacon is a treat that’s been around for centuries so why not fry some up and enjoy its salty goodness!
To find a local bacon producer or a great bacon recipe, search “pork” on FillYourPlate.org.