Bacon, the flesh of swine, salted, dried, and, generally, smoked in a chimney. As the history and customs relative to this savoury dish, would furnish but little instruction, we shall proceed to state the most approved methods of preparing it. both in England and on the Continent.
Somersetshire-Bacon, the most esteemed in this country, may be made any time during the last three months of the year. When a hog is killed for bacon, the sides are laid in large wooden troughs, and sprinkled all over with bay salt: thus they are left for twenty-four hours', to drain away the blood and the superfluous juices. After this first preparation, they should be taken out, wiped very dry, and the drainings thrown away. Next, some fresh bay salt, well heated in a large iron frying-pan, is to be rubbed over the meat, until it has absorbed a sufficient quantity, and this friction repeated four succes-sive days while the meat is turned only every other day. If 1arge hogs are killed, the flitches should be kept in brine for three we and, during that period, turned fen times, then taken out, and thoroughly dried in the Usual manner ; for, unless they be thus managed, it is impossible to preserve them In a sweet state, nor will their flavour be equal to those properly cured.
As the preservation of the salt used in this process, whet) carried on to a great extent, may be an object of economy, we shall state the following method of recovering the saline matter contained in these drainings, or in any other /. whether from herrings, beef, or pork : it was communicated to us by a friend, who had seen it practised on the Continent, where culinary salt is sold at a considerable price. He first added such a quantity of boiling water to the brine, or drainings, as was sufficient to dissolve all the particles of the salt. This solution he then placed in either an iron or earthen vessel, over a tire, which, by boiling, forced all the feculent and animal particles to the top, so that they were carefully removed by a perforated ladle. After the liquid had become clear, it was set aside for twenty-four hours, in a cool place, that the c matter might subside. But, as the combination it had formed with the boiled liquor was very tenacious, he contrived two different ways of separating it: i. A solution of alum in water, one pint to an ounce of that substance, was gradually dropt into the cold liquor, in the proportion of a table-spoonful of the former to •very gallon
L ' of the latter; and the whole allowed to stand for several hours; or, 2. It time and circumstances would permit, he filtered the liquor by means of long flannel slips, cut longitudinally by the web, but previously soaked in another strong and perfectly clear solution of salt: these slips were so immersed into the coloured fluid, that the pro-jecting external end reached ano-ther vessel, which had been placed much lower than that containing the brine, or drainings. "When these particulars were properly attended to, the absorbed liquor became almost colourless, and pel-lucid. I Having thus procured a clear liquid solution, nothing more was required than to evaporate it to dryness, in order to re-produce the salt in its original granulated form. We have faithfully reported the process, which may be imitated without difficulty, and at little or no expence. In our opinion, the second method of discharging the colour is preferable ; as, by this, no alum will be required, which only contaminates the salt.
Smoked Bacon, one of the most relished, but almost indigestible, dishes of the Germans, is prepared in a manner similar to that adopted in the curing of the celebrated Weslphalia Hams. For the latter, however, animals that have been well fed, and allowed to roam at pleasure in the extensive moorlands of that province, are generally selected. And if credit be due to the report lately spread in London, by a native of Westphalia, that those delicious hams, so much esteemed in this country, are the produce of hogs which frequently die of obesity, and were sold for half price to the ill-reputed German skinners (schinder), who expor them to Hamburgh or Holland, we* cannot, in justice to our friends, recommend them for their salubrity. The manner of obtaining them is nearly as follows: after the hams have been properly salted, rubbed, and wiped with dry cloths, in order to absorb all the impure juices, the cavities of the joints, as well as the bones themselves, are carefully covered with a mixture consisting of two parts of the best salt, perfectly dried, and one part of black pepper, coarsely powder-ed. As soon as this operation is performed, the hams are, on the same day, suspended in a chimney, where no other but wood fire is burnt, and which is usually increased during the first three days. The time of fumigation is regulated by the size of the meat, and generally extends from three to six months.
Although we have here given directions for preparing ham as well as bacon, we by no means Wish to insinuate, that either of them affords a wholesome article of nutriment. Such delicacies should be eaten only by the robust, the laborious, and healthy, in great moderation, and seldom. Under these conditions, they may occasionally afford proper exercise to a sound stomach, when taken in. small quantities, in the morning, or previous to a long journey in cold and serene weather. On the contrary, in weak and languid habits, these artificial preparations, not unlike all indurated animal fat, are most difficult of digestion, and therefore improper. As they easily turn rancid in the stomach, or are perhaps already tainted by long suspension, persons afflicfed with hectic fevers, or liable to the heart-burn, ought entirely to abstain from their use.