Bacon is a favorite to so many. It’s the perfect blend of: crispy, fatty, smoky, and salty making it delicious on its own or in your favorite recipes. But, sometimes, you end up with bacon that is just too salty. So, what makes bacon so salty and what do you do if your bacon is too salty?
To start, bacon is a cured pork belly that has been cured either with a wet brine or dry salt mixture and then it can be smoked. If you are working with extra salty raw bacon, you could try soaking some of the salt off, or try cooking it with something that will absorb some of the salt. If your bacon is already cooked before you realize it’s too salty, try altering the other ingredients in your recipe, or even broiling a brown sugar mixture on top of it.
Why Is My Bacon Salty?
There are so many different brands of bacon and even different ways you can make your own bacon at home. To answer why bacon can be salty, let’s begin with what the curing process is. Whether you are making salami, peperoni, prosciutto, or bacon – they all start with curing meat.
To cure a meat means to preserve it. This is usually done by either a wet brine (salt solution) or dry salt mix. Other ingredients can be added along with the salt, such as: sugar, nitrites, nitrates, and other seasonings.
Once the bacon is cured, it can be smoked or aged.
Sometimes bacon can become more salty if left in the curing process for too long or if too much salt is used. Because of the amount of salt needed to cure meat, it is easy for it to become too salty. Also, even though smoking creates a new flavor profile, it is a method of cooking which only brings out the saltiness of the bacon even further.
Why Is Salt Added to Bacon?
Bacon is a cured pork product, typically made from pork belly. To preserve the meat, it goes through a curing process where salt is used to preserve the meat.
Whether a wet brining solution is preferred, or a dry salt mixture, the salt is used to suck out any moisture. The point of this is to remove any water or moisture that can cause bacteria to grow which ultimately prevents the meat from going bad quickly.
Along with salt, other ingredients can be used in the curing process. Specifically with bacon, sodium nitrates or sodium nitrites (curing salt) are typically used to help preserve the color of the pork and also speed up the curing process.
Unfortunately, both nitrates and nitrates add a salty element to the overall bacon. Kosher salt is also added for flavor purposes and can affect how salty the bacon is.
What If My Bacon Is Too Salty?
Whether you have successfully made your own bacon or you have a package from the store, sometimes it’s just too salty. Not to worry, you can remedy the saltiness in raw bacon and even after you’ve cooked it.
You can try and actually remove the salt flavor before cooking it, or you can make adjustments in your recipe to help balance the salt flavor. If you’ve already cooked the bacon or if you are planning on eating it by itself, you are a little more limited in how you reduce the salt – but, it can be done!
Can I Make Bacon Less Salty?
If you are making your own bacon, there are several things you can do to ensure your bacon doesn’t get too salty.
- Consider doing a wet brine instead of a dry cure. The wet brine penetrates the meat differently than dry salt and the water helps to balance the salt.
- Add brown sugar, pepper, and other seasonings along with the salt to help balance the flavor. Sugar, specifically, will counteract the salt content.
- Don’t add so much salt. You are already having to add curing salt, and on top of that adding kosher salt for flavor. Make sure you aren’t over doing the curing salt and consider cutting back on kosher salt.
- Don’t cure your bacon as long. Most recipes call for a curing time of 3 to 10 days, but if you are worried about the bacon being too salty, cure it closer to the 3 day mark.
How to Remove Salt From Bacon That’s Too Salty
So, what can you do if you realize your bacon is just too salty? Don’t throw it out, there are several remedies to help combat the saltiness, whether you have raw bacon or you realized it was too salty once you cooked it.
Trying to tame the saltiness in raw bacon is a lot easier than cooked bacon. There are several things you can do whether it is store bought or homemade.
If you’ve cooked a piece of bacon and realized it’s too salty, you can fix the remaining uncooked pieces.
- Try submerging the uncooked bacon in cool water. Get a sealable container large enough to: hold the bacon and enough water to keep it submerged and that will fit in your refrigerator. Keep it soaking for 2 hours, dry off a piece and cook it to test. If it’s still too salty, start the process over with fresh water. Keep in mind that this process can also remove any smoky flavor of the bacon.
- If you are needing to use the bacon in a recipe and don’t have time to soak it, reduce the amount of salt (or remove all together) in your recipe. For example, if you are cooking a pot of beans – use the bacon as flavor and as salt.
- Another idea if you are short on time, is to boil some water and simmer the raw bacon for a few minutes. Remove the bacon and dry off with a paper towel before cooking it.
What do you do if you’ve already fried the bacon before you realize it’s too salty?? Whether you are planning on eating it as a side to your eggs, or chopping it up in a recipe, there are a couple of ways to desalt the cooked bacon.
- If you plan on eating the bacon by itself, try sprinkling on some brown sugar and cracked black pepper to the cooked bacon. Then, either quickly broil to caramelize the sugar or use a kitchen torch to do the trick. The brown sugar and black pepper will not only add a great candied flavor to the bacon, but they will both help offset the saltiness and ensure it’s not too sweet. It may just be your new favorite way to eat bacon!
- Drizzling some maple syrup on the cooked bacon is a good idea, especially if serving with breakfast. The sweet syrup will help offset the salty bacon.
- If you are chopping up the bacon to use in a recipe, try using less bacon and reduce the amount of salt in the overall recipe.
- If the dish you’re making contains: potatoes, cream, butter, or pasta – consider increasing those ingredients as they will naturally absorb some of the saltiness.
Does Removing the Salt From Bacon Ruin Its Taste?
Sometimes your bacon may be too salty and so you have to try and desalt it if you want to still enjoy it. One of the easiest things to do is soak the raw bacon in water to remove the salt.
In doing so, however, you may also remove some of the other flavors and smokiness the bacon has. It won’t necessarily ruin its taste, but it will alter it slightly.
Are There Any Alternatives to Bacon That Has Less Salt?
If your sodium intake needs to be lowered but you love bacon, consider finding a substitute with less salt. Here are some good ideas to try:
- Making your own bacon is the best option as you can control the amount of salt.
- If you still want bacon, try an uncured version. Uncured bacon doesn’t use sodium nitrates and therefore is less salty.
- Low sodium turkey bacon is another good option that provides the look and flavor of bacon without all the salt and fat. Be sure you get the low sodium stuff otherwise turkey bacon can have just as much sodium as bacon.
- Pancetta is another cured pork product, but it is not smoked and has a slightly less salty flavor. It is a richer cured meat so you don’t need as much in your recipes and it fries up really nice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Bacon is a favorite to so many, but sometimes it’s just too salty. Let’s find out more about salty bacon.
Do you rinse off bacon before cooking?
It is not recommended to rinse your bacon off before cooking it, but it is ok to do. Rinsing your bacon though, won’t really make it less salty and is unnecessary.
How to tell if the bacon will be too salty
You really can’t tell if your bacon is too salty until you cook with it. If you are concerned, try cooking one piece to taste it before using any more.
Is there unsalted bacon?
Bacon is pork belly that has been cured. In order to cure the pork belly, you need to use salt to preserve it. So, no, you cannot find unsalted bacon.
Bacon is a delicious snack or meal any time of the day. However, it has a high sodium content and sometimes is just too salty. If you are making your own bacon or have some from the store, you may find it to be too salty for your taste.
Before you throw it out, try some different ways to help combat the saltiness. If you are making your own, try reducing the curing time or salt in the process, or try soaking the bacon in water to remove some of the salt. If cooking with it, decrease the salt in your recipe, or try adding other ingredients to balance the salt.