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Types Of Bacon: A Glossary Of The Different Bacon Types

Page 2: Types Of Bacon Terms & Definitions M To Z

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Different types of bacon are cut from different parts of the pig. While they have in common the salting and curing of the meat, the appearances, textures and flavors vary. Bacon can be cut into strips or rolled (to be cut during preparation).

International Bacon Day is celebrated on August 31st: a great opportunity to try bacon styles from different countries.


Grilled pork belly, a fashionable substitute for bacon. Photo courtesy Chicken Fried Gourmet.

Below is a breakdown of pork minimal cuts for both premium cuts as well as economical cuts.

Pork Side Chart


Slabs of bacon are caramelized with a smoky, sugary cure created from brown sugar and maple syrup. The sweetness is especially nice in baked beans; and if you want to dip bacon in chocolate, this is it.


Pancetta is Italian back bacon, available smoked or unsmoked. It is typically salt cured and seasoned with spices (fennel, garlic, nutmeg, peppercorns, even hot chile flakes) and then dried. It can be sold in straight strips or in rolls. Cured Italian bacon which is normally not smoked, can be used as a substitute when guanciale is not available.


Pancetta. Photo courtesy
Originating in Toronto, Canada, the name reflects the historic practice of preserving pork by rolling the cured and trimmed boneless loin, short cut from the leaner portions of the loin, in dried and ground yellow peas. In modern times, it has been rolled in ground yellow cornmeal; hence the use of both terms. Bacon made from the pork loin is leaner. It is not smoked but pickled.


Bacon that is seasoned with cracked peppercorns after smoking.


  Pepper Bacon
Pepper bacon. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.
Bacon made from the picnic cut, which includes the shoulder beneath the blade. Picnic bacon is fairly lean.


Major brands like Oscar Mayer, Schwan’s and Tyson’s have recently introduced precooked bacon, a fully-cooked product that is shelf-stable and can be heated in 60 seconds. It’s a real time saver, doesn’t leave a greasy pan and doesn’t fill the house with cooked bacon aroma. It is, however more expensive. But consider keeping it on the shelf for a BLT or a quick bacon and eggs.


Precooked bacon. Photo courtesy Schwan’s.
This is the area on the lower side and underside of the pig from which American bacon (“side bacon” or “streaky bacon”) is cut (see chart above). Though a fattier meat, it can be diced for stir-fry, rolled for roasting or cut into square or rectangular “steaks”—a preparation that has become popular at chic restaurants in the last five years.


Pork belly. Photo courtesy H.G. Walter.
A slice (or a portion of three to four slices) of bacon.


This is bacon from the pork belly that is more fat than lean. It can be fried and eaten as regular bacon; and the bacon grease is prized (although not by cardiologists) for cooking onions, greens, frying potatoes, adding to soups, etc. The terms pork belly and side pork are interchangeable. They are both lean cuts and either can be made into bacon, as well as the jowl meat (guanciale).


Salt pork. Photo courtesy
See streaky bacon, below.


Slab bacon is cured bacon, made from the belly and side cuts, and from fatback. It is different from salt pork (see above), which is prepared from the same cuts but is not cured.


As you"™ve seen in this Bacon Glossary, there are numerous types of bacon, cut from different parts of the pig and cured in different ways. Streaky bacon, also called side bacon, is the type of bacon favored in the U.S. It comes from the pork belly, and is very fatty with long layers of fat "œstreaked" with meat. Pancetta is the Italian version of streaky bacon, which can be either smoked or unsmoked.


  Streaky Bacon
Streaky bacon, raw and cooked. Photo courtesy Edwards Virginia Smokehouse.
Szalonna is the Hungarian term for back bacon. It is made of smoked pork fat with the rind, and is often sold ready to eat (no cooking required).


Also called facon (fake bacon), vacon or veggie bacon, vegan bacon is a plant-based product made from tempeh, tofu or vegetables and tamari. along with liquid smoke and "œbacon spices." There are numerous recipes online for homemade, as well as excellent commercial products like Smart Bacon from Lightlife.


Lightlife vegan bacon. Photo courtesy
The French word for pancetta.


While it continues to be called wild boar because all domestic pigs are descended from it, today’s “wild boar” is in fact a pastured animal. Like its true wild ancestor, it remains an extremely hardy animal that is capable of growth even during the hardest winter. And unlike the domestic pig, wild boar are not prone to illness or disease. The meat is darker in color with a distinct, more flavorful taste than domestic pork; but it is not gamey tasting.


Wild boar bacon. Photo courtesy
A traditional English technique for curing bacon and ham, originating in the 18th century in Wiltshire. The original Wiltshire cure was a dry cure method that involved applying salt to the meat for 10–14 days. However, around World War I it became a wet cure, where the bacon is soaked in brine for 4–5 days. The bacon may or may not be smoked after it is cured.

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Lifestyle Direct, Inc. Some definitions were provided by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board  and are © Copyright 2005 Cattlemen’s Beef Board. All rights reserved. Images are the copyright of their respective owners.

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Last Updated  Apr 2018

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