If you’re a bacon lover, chances are you’ve heard of Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats.
This specialty meat supplier based in Wittenberg, Wisconsin has been producing artisanal bacon, ham, sausage, and poultry since 1933.
But have you ever wondered where exactly this delicious bacon comes from?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the history of Nueske’s and the process behind their famous applewood smoked bacon.
Get ready to learn about the Midwest’s best-kept secret for meat lovers!
Where Is Nueske Bacon Made?
Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats is located in the small town of Wittenberg, Wisconsin, in the heart of the Midwest. The company has been producing their famous bacon and other smoked meats in this location since 1933.
The Nueske family has been in the meat smoking business since 1882, when they began smoking meats for their own consumption. Today, Nueske’s uses imported spices and still follows the original family recipes to create their delicious products.
One of the key factors that sets Nueske’s bacon apart from other brands is their use of applewood embers to smoke the meat for 24 hours. This gives the bacon a distinctive, delicious taste that is hard to find elsewhere.
Nueske’s also takes great care in selecting high-quality pork for their products. They use only premium cuts of meat and take the time to hand-trim each piece before smoking it.
The History Of Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats
The history of Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats dates back to the Great Depression when R.C. Nueske began selling smoked meats using family recipes. In 1933, he started marketing bacon, sausages, hams, and smoked turkeys from a panel truck at small resorts in northern Wisconsin. Despite the economic hardships of the time, Nueske was confident that his meats would sell, and he was right.
Over the years, Nueske’s continued to expand its product offerings while maintaining its commitment to quality and tradition. By 1996, the company offered 30 different products, including glazed spiral-sliced hams, smoked pork chops, and beef ‘n’ bacon burgers. However, its core bacon products continued to outsell all other products combined by about two to one.
In 2009, during the height of the “bacon mania” craze in America, Nueske’s renamed itself and experienced increased sales of its products. The company knew it was imperative that they increase their capacity to keep up with demand. With limited funding to initiate such a large-scale expansion project, Nueske’s looked to WHEDA for assistance. In 2016, Nueske’s received $11.5 million in New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs), allowing the smokehouse to nearly double in size and workforce.
Today, Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats remains located in Wittenberg, Wisconsin, where it continues to be operated by the Nueske family now in the third generation of the family business. The company produces and stores nearly 23 million pounds of meat product at any given time. It is a testament to the dedication and commitment of the Nueske family to maintain their traditions and provide high-quality smoked meats to customers across the nation and internationally.
Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Bacon has received five sofiTM gold medals from the Specialty Food Association (SFA), which is a testament to their commitment to quality and tradition. The popularity of bacon only continues to rise, so will the Nueske brand’s reputation as a producer of delicious smoked meats. The expansion project brings more jobs, revenue, and pride to the Wisconsin economy in a way that many operations cannot.
The Art Of Smoking Bacon With Applewood
Smoking bacon with applewood is an art form that Nueske’s takes very seriously. The process begins with the selection of the wood itself. Nueske’s only uses actual applewood logs, which are sourced from local Wisconsin orchards. This ensures that the smoke produced is of the highest quality and imparts a genuine applewood flavor to the meat.
Once the wood is selected, it is burned down to embers. These embers are then used to create smoke that circulates around the meat in Nueske’s smokehouses. The smokehouses themselves are built to match the original smokehouse that still stands in front of Nueske’s retail shop. They are all about the size of a walk-in closet and are watched over by smokemaster Mike, who has been overseeing the smoking process for over twenty years.
Each slab of bacon is hung from special racks on wheels inside the smokehouses, where it will smoke for a full 24 hours. During this time, Mike and his apprentices carefully monitor the temperature and humidity levels to ensure that each batch of bacon is smoked to perfection.
The end result is a delicious, smoky bacon that has a distinct flavor profile thanks to the use of applewood embers. Nueske’s bacon has become famous for its unique taste and is sought after by foodies and chefs alike.
Where Does Nueske’s Bacon Come From?
Nueske’s bacon is made in the company’s smokehouses, which are located in an enormous smoking room. There are 32 smokehouses built to match the original smokehouse, which stands in front of the company’s retail pork shop. Each smokehouse is about the size of a walk-in closet and is watched by smokemaster Mike, who has been overseeing the smoking at Nueske’s for more than twenty years. The smokehouses are all built according to the same original plans, and they have been smoking for decades.
Inside the smokehouses, whole sides of bacon hang from special racks on wheels. The smoke comes from open fires built from applewood logs, and each batch smokes for 24 hours. The design is meant to help all the sides of bacon smoke evenly. The particulars of Nueske’s smokehouse workings are closely guarded company secrets.
Nueske’s takes pride in producing high-quality bacon that yields about three-quarters of a pound of cooked bacon per pound of raw bacon. This is higher than most run-of-the-mill raw bacon, which produces as little as a quarter to a third of a pound of cooked bacon.
Nueske’s Bacon Production Process
The production process for Nueske’s bacon is a meticulous and time-consuming one. It all starts with the selection of high-quality pork, which is hand-trimmed to remove any excess fat. The trimmed pork is then coated with a blend of imported spices and seasonings, which is a closely guarded family recipe.
Once the pork has been seasoned, it is placed in a special smoking room filled with piles of Wisconsin applewood logs. The logs are set alight, and the resulting smoke is used to flavor the meat for a minimum of 24 hours. This slow smoking process allows the sweet, aromatic smoke to fully penetrate the meat, resulting in the delicious flavor that Nueske’s bacon is known for.
After smoking, the bacon is cooled and sliced into thick, hearty pieces. The final product is then packaged and shipped out to customers across the country.
Nueske’s commitment to using only the best ingredients and traditional smoking methods has earned them a loyal following among bacon lovers. Their dedication to quality has also allowed them to expand their production capacity while maintaining the same level of excellence in their products.
What Makes Nueske’s Bacon So Special?
Nueske’s bacon is special for several reasons. First and foremost, it is smoked over applewood embers for 24 hours, giving it a unique and delicious flavor that sets it apart from other brands. Additionally, Nueske’s takes great care in selecting only the highest quality pork for their products. Each piece is hand-trimmed before smoking, ensuring a consistent and superior product.
Another factor that makes Nueske’s bacon stand out is their use of natural ingredients. While some brands use synthetic nitrates and nitrites to cure their bacon, Nueske’s uses a celery derivative that naturally contains nitrates. This results in a product that is free from artificial preservatives and additives.
Finally, Nueske’s bacon is less fatty than mass-market brands, making it a healthier option without sacrificing flavor. While it may be more expensive than other brands, the quality and taste of Nueske’s bacon make it well worth the price.