Here at the Republic of Bacon, we love to offer you proof that your love of bacon is not just in your head. It’s a scientific fact that bacon is delicious. We’ve already talked a little about why the cooking of bacon makes it delicious. But what about before the cooking – does bacon start out delicious? The answer, of course, is yes. And the reason is because of the special way that bacon is prepared: its curing.
Meat, if you didn’t know, is largely made up of animal protein and the associated fat. Strangely enough, though, protein, on its own, does not have a lot of flavour. As we mentioned before, what gives meat its flavour are the by-products of protein – those thousands of flavourful amino acids – when it is broken down. Although there is always some natural breakdown of proteins before any cooking begins, the process is accelerated by cooking. Hence, the deliciousness of browned meat.
But bacon’s secret weapon – what makes it potentially even more delicious than other meats – is the curing that is used in bacon’s preparation. Curing is done in many ways, but the most common are dry and wet curing. Most of the bacon we eat today is wet cured, which means it has been prepared in a brine (salt water) solution. Although this was originally meant to help make bacon last longer, it is now largely done to make bacon taste better.
The reason it improves bacon’s flavour is because curing helps start bacon’s protein breakdown sooner. In particular, the brine solutions helps increase the concentration of the amino acid glutamic acid. And glutamic acid has been associated with that delicious, meaty flavour that we all love.
As well, the fats in bacon also break down in the curing process into thousands of different chemicals. Some of these natural chemicals are what give other foods their particular flavours: apple, melon, citrus and butter. These are combined with the caramel flavours that are naturally produced when meats are browned. The overall result is the complex, endlessly captivating scent and flavour of bacon.
And with so many different flavour notes, it is no wonder that bacon works so well with so many different foods. Pairing bacon with the sweetness of apples and melons, for instance, brings those flavour notes in bacon out.
So, there you have it: further proof that bacon is delicious. But you didn’t need that, you can tell already! But if you have any bacon-doubters in your life, be sure to tell them why they need to give bacon a second chance.
Why is it that other foods need to be wrapped, stuffed or injected with bacon to make it better? Curious little bit to think about. What else do you think bacon would be fantastic with?
Image Source by Marshall Astor