Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bacon Test

I've produced bacon now from two sorts of pigs: Mangalitsa pigs and Berkshires. The pigs were fed the same and about equally fat. The first batch of Mangalitsa bacon is only ready now. I think this is the first batch of USDA-inspected cured Mangalitsa products in the Western Hemisphere.

The Berkshire stuff was good enough that Saveur described it as one of the Top Ten Tastes to Try in Washington.

The new Mangalitsa bacon tastes better. I tasted them side by side. The Mangalitsa bacon distinguished itself by having much nicer fat. The fat tastes more clean and clear. The Mangalitsa fat melts quicker on the tongue/skin than the Berkshire's fat. It was much nicer to eat the Mangalitsa bacon.

It isn't surprising that there were differences. Although the Mangalitsa and Berkshire are both breeds of pigs, the Mangalitsa is an extreme lard-type pig, while the Berkshire is a meat type breed of pig. They have very different metabolisms. Breed is one of the factors determining meat quality.

Obviously, because producing the best bacon is a mulitdimensional optimization problem, if you want to produce the best bacon, you'll need to get the breed, feed, age at slaughter and factors like processing right.

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