Makin’ Bacon

Ham, bacon, lard and sausage are some of the most delicious and useful parts of a pig.

Making your own pork products is not as difficult as you would think, and the quality of the meat is far superior to anything you can buy at a reasonable price.

Most of your pig just needs to be divided into its particular cuts, like ribs and steaks. A great link describing the different cuts available from a half is:

For some items, a little more work is required.

Step 1: Lard

Lard is an extremely useful item to have in your kitchen. It is easier to produce at home than vegetable oil and has a lot more nutrition. You process lard and leaf lard in the same way, though you should keep the two separate, as leaf lard is of a very high quality and can be used to make delicious pies and desserts.

Rendering lard will take the better part of a day, so it is a good idea to refrigerate your lard after butchering and start this process in the morning.

  1. Cut lard into 1” or 1/2” chunks. Some people grind their lard to speed up the rendering, but that makes for a very messy clean up and you lose out on the delicious cracklings.
  2. Put a little water into a wide, shallow pot and add your lard chunks.
  3. Heat slowly, stirring frequently. Be careful not to scorch. This is easy to do, so keep that heat low. Do not allow it to get above 220 degrees at the beginning when the water content is high, or above 255 degrees later when most of the water has boiled out.
  4. Add 1/2 tsp baking soda to the fat for whitening, as it becomes liquid.
  5. As cracklings float, you can scoop them out before they sink to bottom (you can finish cooking these separately if not quite done). Or you can leave them in to sink to the bottom, but make sure they don’t scorch on the bottom of your pot. Once all the cracklings have sunk to the bottom, you are done. Remove from heat and let cool.
  6. Strain lard through a cloth over a sieve when it is still warm. If you allow it to cool too much it will clog the cloth and take forever.
  7. Put into containers, cool and freeze. You can take out a container whenever you need one, but keep it refrigerated for added longevity and security.


Step 2: Ham and bacon
Cure per 10 lbs meat:
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup #1 cure (pink stuff)
  • Spices
  1. Inject some of the cure into the hams, near the bone.
  2. Immerse your cuts of ham and bacon in the liquid cure. Put a non-metallic weight on top to make sure it doesn’t float out of the cure.
  3. Leave it in cold water for 8-10 days (in a container in fridge if the weather outside is not cold). You can leave it for longer if you wish, the cure will just be deeper.
  4. Rinse.
  5. Soak in water for two hours.
  6. Test the meat. If it’s still really salty, rinse again and leave to soak in water for another 2 hours.

You can now either smoke it (with or without a glaze), boil it or save it for baked ham. All should be frozen if you want it to last, as this is a short-term cure, not a long one.

  1. Smoke at 140 degrees for 7 hours (apple wood)
  2. You can use a glaze if you want (1/4 cup mustard, 1/4 cup honey, 1/8 cup orange juice).
  3. Can be used as lunch-meat.
  1. Place in 170 degree water.
  2. Simmer until internal temperature of meat is 160 degrees (3 hours per 10lbs).
  3. Chill in cold water.
  4. Refrigerate and use as lunch-meat.


Step 3: Sausage
CURE (or use prepackaged mix)

1lb pork

1 tsp pickling salt

1/2 tsp sage

1/8 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp paprika

2 oz water

  1. Refrigerate meat.
  2. Coarse grind through 1/2” (or 3/16”) plate.
  3. Transfer to mixer, add seasoning and mix for 2 minutes. Or you can work the seasoning in by hand.
  4. Chill in freezer for 30 minutes.
  5. Regrind for 5/32” (or 1/4”) plate.
  6. Chill another 30 minutes if you want to make links. For patties, you can make them right away.
  7. Stuff into casings and link.