The Best Artisanal Bacon Known To Man
Bacon. The mere thought of it can inspire men to heights of greatness. Or to order a BLT, or a side of it with whatever the heck they’re eating. Though you may have never met a strip you didn’t like, there is better out there. There’s a higher tier of bacon, one made up of artisanal small batch stuff capable of starting and ending wars. Or at least making breakfast that much better. A sampling of the nation’s best, below.
New York City-based Lobel’s sources its humanely-raised hogs from farms in Eastern Canada. Though this is no Canadian bacon, Lobel’s strips do bear another characteristic from the north: They are marinated in dark maple syrup for 10 days before going through two rounds of smoking.
Better known for the delicious hams they’ve made since 1947, this business smokes all their meats in a small smoker out back of their facility in Tennessee. The hand-rubbed bacon is cured for weeks before undergoing 48 hours of smoke on each side for pig perfection.
The heritage hogs used in this dry-cured bacon are raised in Iowa free of hormones, antibiotics, and the use of farrowing or gestation crates. Happier hogs means better bacon, especially if its smoked with cherry wood like this glorious stuff is.
It all starts with pasture-raised meat for this San Francisco butcher shop. Their small batch bacon is dry-rubbed with sea salt, brown sugar, and organic spices before being smoked over fruit wood.
Vande Rose Farms – Applewood-Smoked Bacon
The craftsmen at Iowa Falls, Iowa-based Vande Rose Farms slow-smoke their thick-cut bacon with brown sugar, salt and pepper. But perhaps more importantly is what their family farm suppliers don’t use. The heritage breed Duroc hogs their bacon is made from aren’t given antibiotics or hormones, and eat a vegetarian diet of corn and soybeans. Oh, and you won’t find any water or phosphates — cheater ingredients used to get the flavor of artisanal bacon — in their strips.
Nodine’s Smokehouse – Double Smoked Bacon
With a variety of pig named after the mountain range there (the Berkshires, it’s no wonder that Western Massachusetts would produce some top-shelf bacon. Nodine’s Smokehouse sources its pigs locally and does all production in-house in the Berkshires (or a location in nearby Connecticut). That includes double-smoking this rich variety with wood from hickory, juniper, and of course apple trees. (It is New England, after all.)