Why Is American Bacon Different To Australian Bacon?

Bacon is a beloved breakfast staple around the world, but did you know that the way it’s prepared and cut can vary depending on where you are?

In Australia, middle bacon cuts include a piece of the leaner loin of the pig, while American bacon is streaky with fat from the pork belly. And that’s just the beginning.

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between American and Australian bacon, as well as other types of bacon from around the world.

So sit back, grab a slice of your favorite bacon, and let’s dive in!

Why Is American Bacon Different To Australian Bacon?

As mentioned earlier, the main difference between American and Australian bacon is the cut of meat used. American bacon comes from the pork belly, which is one of the fattiest parts of the pig. This results in a streaky appearance with a high fat content.

On the other hand, Australian bacon includes a piece of the leaner loin of the pig, resulting in a longer cut with what looks like a tail. This cut is also known as middle bacon.

Another difference is in the curing process. American bacon is typically cured with salt and sugar, while Australian bacon may also include additional spices and flavors.

The Origins Of Bacon And Its Global Spread

Bacon has a long and fascinating history that dates back thousands of years. The earliest form of bacon was created by the Chinese in 1500 B.C. by curing pork bellies with salt. However, pigs were domesticated in China as early as 4900 B.C. and were also being raised in Europe by 1500 B.C. It is speculated that the Romans and Greeks learned bacon production and curing through their conquests in the Middle East. The Romans improved pig breeding and spread pork production throughout their empire.

Bacon was a staple meat for European peasants for many centuries due to its long storage life, which was made possible by the curing process and the ready availability of pigs. It was also the first meat to become an important international trade commodity.

The phrase “bring home the bacon” has its roots in a church in the English town of Dunmow, which promised a side of bacon to any married man who could swear before the congregation and God that he had not quarreled with his wife for a year and a day. A husband who succeeded was held in high esteem by the community for his forbearance.

Today, bacon is enjoyed around the world, with Denmark ranking as the top consumer per capita. In the United States, more than 2 billion pounds of bacon are produced annually, with an average per capita consumption of around 18 pounds.

Bacon is not just limited to pork anymore, as meat from other animals such as beef, lamb, chicken, goat or turkey can be cut, cured or otherwise prepared to resemble bacon. Vegetarian bacons such as “soy bacon” also exist.

American Bacon: Streaky And Savory

American bacon, also known as streaky bacon, is the most popular type of bacon in the world. It is distinct for its streaky mix of fat and meat, which gives it a savory and decadent flavor. The cut of meat used for American bacon is the pork belly, which is the fattiest part of the pig. This results in a high-fat content and a streaky appearance with long layers of fat running parallel to the meat and rind.

Streaky bacon is often cured with a mixture containing salt and sodium nitrate to preserve it. It can also be dry-cured with a dry rub or left to marinate in a curing solution. After being cured, American bacon is smoked to add flavor and sliced thinly.

The high-fat content of streaky bacon makes it ideal for crispy bacon sandwiches and works well with most dishes that can accommodate its strong flavor and firm texture. It is typically sold in long narrow slices that perfectly showcase its pattern of pink juicy meat within white fat. The rind is removed before it is sliced, and it comes in various sizes, from thin to extra thick.

Australian Bacon: A Cut Above The Rest

When it comes to bacon, Australian bacon is a cut above the rest. Unlike American bacon, which comes from the fatty pork belly, Australian bacon includes a piece of the leaner loin of the pig, resulting in a longer cut with what looks like a tail. This cut is known as middle bacon and is considered to be a healthier option due to its lower fat content.

Australian bacon also stands out in terms of its curing process. While American bacon is typically cured with salt and sugar, Australian bacon may also include additional spices and flavors, giving it a unique taste that sets it apart from its American counterpart.

It’s important to note that not all Australian bacon is created equal. As mentioned earlier, many ham and bacon products in Australia are made using imported pork products. To ensure that you are getting the best quality Australian bacon, always check the labels on pack or ask at your deli counter to make sure your bacon is made from locally grown pork.

In recent years, there has been a growing demand for fresh pork in Australia, leading to a shortage of locally grown pork products. This has resulted in local pork and ham manufacturers increasingly relying on imported pork to meet demand. However, it’s still possible to find high-quality Australian bacon that is made from locally grown pork.

Canadian Bacon: A Unique Take On The Classic

While American and Australian bacon may be the most well-known types of bacon, Canadian bacon offers a unique twist on the classic. Unlike American bacon, which comes from the pork belly, Canadian bacon is cut from the tender eye of the pork loin. This results in a leaner and rounder cut of meat that is often served on sandwiches.

The origin of Canadian bacon’s name is also interesting. It is believed to have originated in the mid-1800s when there was a shortage of pork in the United Kingdom. They imported meat from Canada, which was cured in a special brine and rolled in ground yellow split peas to help preserve it. The English smoked it instead, resulting in a new concoction that became known as Canadian bacon.

In Canada, back bacon (or peameal bacon) is not smoked or pre-cooked. The lean, boneless pork loin is pickle-cured and rolled in a fine golden cornmeal. This gives it a unique texture and flavor that is different from both American and Australian bacon.

Canadian bacon can be used in similar ways as traditional bacon or ham, but it does not fry up to a crisp like American bacon due to its leaner cut. It can be enjoyed straight from the package or heated up in a skillet for added flavor.

European Bacon: A World Of Variety

Europeans enjoy their bacon just as much as Americans and Australians, but the meat is considerably different in each region. In the United Kingdom, for example, “rasher” is a popular type of bacon made from the air-cured loin of the pig. This bacon comes in thick, round pieces that are chewy and often served at breakfast or lunch.

Moving further east, Russia has its own traditional bacon known as “salo”, which is often called the bacon of Eastern Europe. Salo is made from cured slabs of fatback and can be eaten raw or cooked. In Russia, it’s a popular snack to have salo on bread with garlic and vodka.

In other parts of Europe, bacon is prepared differently based on geography. Some types of bacon will feature spices like garlic, salt, and black pepper. For example, in Italy, pancetta is a type of bacon that’s rolled and cured with spices like nutmeg and fennel.

In Germany, there’s a type of bacon called “speck” which is smoked and often used to add flavor to dishes like soups and stews. And in Spain, “jamón” or cured ham is a staple food that’s served in thin slices with cheese and bread.

Cooking With Bacon: Tips And Tricks For Delicious Dishes

Bacon is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, from breakfast to dinner and everything in between. Here are some tips and tricks to make the most out of your bacon:

1. Freeze your bacon: Bacon is much easier to chop when it’s cold, so keep a stash in your freezer for weeknight meals. Just slice and dice straight from the freezer with a good chopping board and a robust knife. If you have to separate the strips, microwave on defrost mode just until you can pull them apart.

2. Cook with water: When cooking bacon on the stove, add water to the skillet. The water renders the fat, thus reducing splattering. But more importantly, this smart technique produces a browned and crisp-edged yet tender slice when all the water has evaporated.

3. Roast your bacon: Instead of pan-frying, consider roasting your bacon in the oven. Roast the bacon gently and evenly in your oven at 375°F (190°F), rotating the baking sheet halfway through cooking, for about 15 minutes. Don’t overcrowd the baking pan. The result will be a deliciously crispy, perfectly flat bacon slice.

4. Flour your bacon: For even tastier, crispier bacon, dredge it in flour before cooking. The coating of flour will help dry the bacon and absorb excess moisture, which is one of the keys of properly browned meats. Flour also provides a protective coating, helping to keep the bacon from overcooking.

With these tips and tricks, you can elevate your bacon game and create delicious dishes that everyone will love.