Bacon Curing At Sandridge Farm

Bacon is made from fresh pork which has been cured (preserved with salt) so that it will keep for longer. There are two main methods of curing, Dry Curing is the oldest, each farmhouse would have its own recipe and a flitch of bacon would be kept in the inglenook above the fireplace. From Saxon times pigs were fattened hereabouts in oak forests on mast (acorns) during Autumn and cured to provide meat for the family in winter months. Bacon formed part of the rations for long distance sea journeys, heavy salting preserved the meat from 'going off' but by the time it reached the Americas it was tough and more like boot leather than bacon as we know it today.

The Wiltshire Cure was developed by the Harris family of Calne, Wiltshire and was revolutionary in its time (1840's), they packed the roof with ice - as meat keeps fresh longer at lower temperatures it did not require so much salt. A milder cure was born. The term 'Wet-cure' means to immerse in a brine, unfortunately mass produced bacon today is not only immersed in liquid but pumped with water and phosphates to speed up the process and add yield (and the more supermarkets squeezed the price, the more water was added), flavour was sacrificed for profit. I hope that when you taste our bacon it will redeem the name of 'Wiltshire Cure' as a brine cured bacon, with no added water that does not shrivel, but sizzles in your pan!

The Wiltshire Cure

Sides of pork are immersed in Brine (a salt and saltpetre solution containing useful salt tolerant bacteria) for 3 to 4 days, then stacked in a cool cellar for two weeks to mature. Following the Traditional Wiltshire method, we do not add any water to the bacon. We like to say that after Salt, Time is our most important ingredient.

[Sides of cured bacon hanging in our smoker]

Smoking

Wiltshire sides and middles of bacon are smoked naturally over Oak and Beech sawdust for 2 to 3 days. Smoking gives a honeyed colour to the Bacon rind.

Dry Curing

Legs and middles of Pork are packed in salt or pickled in a salt, molasses and spice mixture and are regularly turned and massaged to rub in the salt, the curing time varies from 28 to 56 days.

The Gammons (back legs) are then hung in a warm room and ‘Air-dried’ until mature, this can take as long as eight months for The Brumham. We have adapted local and family recipes to create a range of Speciality Village Hams named for Wiltshire towns. The Devyses Ham is cured to the old ‘Wiltshire Wet’ recipe (which does not sound appetising until I tell you that the ‘wet’ part of the recipe refers to spiced beer - we use the locally brewed Wadworth’s 6X). Our Dry Cured Bacon is called the Old Timer.

Speciality Village Hams

Our unique range of hams cured to local and family recipes.

THE BRUMHAM Starts its long maturation as a dry cured ham and then goes into a darker mood with Molasses and Juniper berries to finally emerge about eight months later with a coal black rind hiding its ruby red centre.

THE DEVYSES with its strong brewing connection, no surprise to find the rich flavour of hops coming through. Hot spiced Wadsworths’ 6X beer is poured over the dry cured hams.

THE TRUBRIDGE a dry cure, rare nowadays because of the time it takes and the weight losses, similar to a York Ham, preferred by those with a delicate palate.

THE CHIPNAM a traditional ham that has a deep pink colour and is firm when cut. Its full flavour made it a favourite dish on the farmhouse table at Farmhouse Harvest Suppers. This Wiltshire ham is coated in breadcrumbs.

[A tasty looking Golden Rind Smoked Ham!]

THE GOLDEN RIND SMOKED a ham naturally smoked over Oak and Beech sawdust for 2 to 3 days recreating the essence of Farmhouse Inglenook Smoking.