Buy the best bacon this EasterDo you look at your bacon's colour, tail and cure?
02 April 2015
Hot on the heels of our premium bacon taste test, we've got some expert buying tips you can use to hunt down the tastiest rashers, whether you're shopping in a supermarket or at a butcher's.
Last month, we revealed which supermarket sells Best Buy bacon. This month, just in time for the long Easter weekend, we've got some great tips you can use to pick out the most sumptuous rashers on the shelf.
So whether you're planning a scrumptious fry-up or simply want to sink your teeth into the best possible bacon sarnie, you need to read on.
But if you missed our taste test and just want to know which shop sells Best Buy bacon, then head for the results of our bacon taste test.
Tips from the bacon experts
Two of our expert taste testers are award winning butchers. Here, they reveal what to look for when buying bacon.
Tip one: Look at the colour of the meat and fat
Alan Hayward, award-winning butcher and game dealer, says: ‘When you’re looking at bacon in a butcher’s or supermarket, ignore any meat that has a deep purple/burgundy colour. This is indicative of an older pig, perhaps one initially kept for breeding rather than eating.
'Instead, look for a light, consistent pink colour to the meat, and fat that is white without any creamy hue to it. That’s better bacon.’
Tip two: Take a close look at the tail
Keith Fisher, fourth generation butcher who can identify any pork cure from around the world, says: 'The tail of the rasher should be meaty, not thin and long. In the taste test, two samples from the same supermarket had different tails – one set was thinner and more streaky, so was from a slightly different part of the pig.
'It’s worth having a proper look at what you’re buying, and being a bit picky with what you take off the shelf.’
In our tests we found that some bacon from the same range varied from pack to pack. When we investigated this further, we found the differences could be quite startling. To find out more, click bacon taste test.
Guide to bacon cures
All bacon is either wet or dry-cured. And if you're fed up with your frying pan filling up with that white goopy stuff, it's time to start looking for dry-cured bacon:
Wet-cured bacon is injected with, or submerged in, brine. It shrinks as it cooks, oozing that annoying white stuff.
Dry-cured bacon is rubbed with a salt-based mix (exact recipes vary) and then air dried, drawing moisture out of the rashers. It shouldn’t shrink much when cooked, and there shouldn’t be any white residue. These days, dry curing is seen as a note of quality and all bacon in our taste test is dry cured.
The welfare of the pig affects the price that you'll pay in the shop, and you'll see a range of welfare terms on the packaging the bacon comes in. Whether you're an ethical shopper or just price savvy, you'll want to know what the various terms mean:
Outdoor-bred pigs are born outdoors and moved inside at the time of weaning, typically four weeks from birth.
Outdoor-reared pigs are born outside and live there for about half of their lives, being moved inside once they weigh around 30kg.
Free-range pigs are born outside and have access to the outdoors for their whole lives.
Organic bacon comes from organic pigs. These are kept to a different set of welfare standards and organic bacon can be quite expensive to buy. We did not sample any organic bacon in our taste test.
If you don't see any of these terms, the bacon will probably come from pigs born and bred indoors, which is unlikely to be advertised on the packet.