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BACON [smoked meat]

Pork "sides" are cured -"sugar-cured" is an often-heard term -and smoked, usually with hardwood chips. N early all bacon is now sold sliced, and packaged in l or 1/2-lb. units. Thick-sliced bacon is also packaged in 2-lb. units.

Bacon is packaged as "sliced bacon", "thick-sliced bacon", "thin-sliced bacon" and "ends and pieces." Typically, sliced bacon has 20 to 24 slices per lb.; thick slice, 14 to 18 slices per lb., and thin slice, 25 to 35 slices per lb. Actually, thin slice does not mean "thinner" but, rather, smaller slices. It is usually made from small pork "sides" which are shorter and narrower, thus yielding a higher slice count per pound.

The finest quality bacon is chosen from the center slices of selected bacon sides. These "sides" are cut from lean-type hogs, marketed at weights of 200 to 220 lb. The fat will be firm and white, evenly ribboned with lean. Too much lean may result in tough bacon.

Second grades of bacon may be sliced from the same sides as the processor's first quality, but slices will be less uniform in appearance. Other grades usually come from the larger bacon sides.

"Ends and pieces" are the irregular shaped pieces from either end of the bacon side (only the center slices will be uniform in length) and also part slices. This type of bacon may offer good value for flavoring, and use as cooked, crumbled bacon.

Bacon flavor and aroma is very elusive, and sliced bacon exposed to air and light loses quality rapidly. The innovation of vacuum-packing for sliced bacon was an important develop- ment for the consumer. Under refrigeration in an unopened vacuum package, bacon shows little or no loss of flavor and quality even after several days' storage.

Bacon should be cooked at low temperature in a skillet or griddle or baked on a rack in a shallow pan in a preheated 400°F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

.Availability: Widespread distribution.

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