There is a lot of “nitrate-free bacon” on the market…it’s made with nitrates taken from celery extract, which may be natural, but produces exactly the same N-nitroso compounds in the meat. Under EU regulation, this bacon would not be allowed to be labelled “nitrate-free”.
When Lynn heard about a new process, developed in Spain, for making perfectly pink, nitrate-free bacon, he assumed it was another blind alley. In 2009, Juan de Dios Hernandez Canovas, a food scientist and the head of the food tech company Prosur, found that if he added certain fruit extracts to fresh pork, it stayed pink for a surprisingly long time.
In January 2018, Finnebrogue used this technology to launch genuinely nitrate-free bacon and ham in the UK. It is sold in Sainsbury’s and Waitrose as “Naked Bacon” and “Naked Ham”, and in M&S as “made without nitrites”. Kirsty Adams, who oversaw its launch at M&S, explains that “it’s not really cured”. It’s more like a fresh salted pork injected with a fruit and vegetable extract, and is more perishable than an old-fashioned flitch of bacon – but that doesn’t matter, given that it is kept in a fridge. Because it is quick to produce, this is much more “economically viable” to make than some of the other nitrate-free options, such as slow-cured Parma ham. The bacon currently sells in Waitrose for £3 a pack, which is not the cheapest, but not prohibitive either.
I tried some of the Finnebrogue bacon from M&S. The back bacon tasted pleasant and mild, with a slight fruitiness…
To read The Guardian’s article in full, click here.