Pork products are delicious, but what does bacon taste like? It is inarguably famous for its sweet smell and taste. Many people compare its taste to that of other meats, but a vegan would find it difficult to understand what that meaty taste really is.
The chemistry behind the flavor originates from the uncured pork belly and its fat. After slicing and smoking the bacon, the fatty acids usually break into flavorful compounds like aldehydes, furans, and ketones. These compounds have distinct tastes, with aldehydes having a grassy taste, furans having a nutty, sweet flavor, and ketones having a buttery taste.
The combination of all those compounds is what brings the bacon taste. Once cooked, the bacon releases maple lactone, a compound responsible for the sweet smell.
This article will explain further what bacon tastes like.
Why is Bacon so Salty?
Raw pork is not naturally salty. The high salt content in bacon comes in during the curing process, where bacon is soaked in salted water or dry-packed in salt.
These two processes draw out the moisture in the pork, creating a hostile environment where bacteria cannot thrive. Now since bacteria love moisture-rich environments, there are minimal chances of any growing on the bacon.
The salt also helps extend the bacon shelf life and can push for more extended periods than other uncured meats. Once cooked, the bacon still retains the salt and cooks fast due to the low moisture content. The salt in the bacon is too much for your liking; you can remove the excess in it.
With uncooked bacon pieces, you can reverse the brining by pouring enough water in a container, submerging it, then covering and putting it in the refrigerator for up to 3 hours. After some time, you can check if the amount of salt is lower.
If it’s still too much, pour the water, add some fresh one, place the bacon into it, and return to the refrigerator. Repeat the process until you achieve your desired saltiness. Remember to pat the bacon dry before cooking it on a hot pan.
If there is too much salt in cooked bacon, lessen it using heavy cream that masks the salt or add some mashed potatoes or breadcrumbs if your recipe allows it. Note that sweet potatoes may dampen your bacon strips.
Why is Bacon so Delicious?
We all love bacon differently. Its flavor alone will leave you rolling eyes, wondering how anything would taste that good. So what makes bacon taste so mystical?
First, the pigs’ diet and breed determine the type of bacon you will have at the end of the day. For example, the Tamworth pig breed is delicious due to its large bellies.
The different compounds from fatty acids also add up to the awesomeness of bacon. These compounds disintegrate as the bacon cooks, and their distinct tastes mix and bring the bacon-ey taste.
The curing process of the bacon also adds some flavor to it. The salts act with the fats in the porcine strips and increase the taste of the pork.
Sugars and amino acids
Lastly, the combination of amino acids and sugars under high temperatures gives a distinctive smell that contributes to the bacons’ yumminess. The more fat a bacon strip has, the better its taste, as fat is necessary for the Maillard reaction.
Things that taste like bacon
Not all people enjoy pig bacon. Some avoid it due to religious beliefs, others due to health concerns, primarily because the fat in bacon is known to contain nitrates and nitrites, which are converted into carcinogens when cooked. These carcinogens have an increased risk of cancer. Vegans and vegetarians also will not include bacon in their diets. The good thing is that there are both vegetarian and meat products that taste like bacon.
Meat products that taste like bacon
Turkey bacon has a low-fat content. It is usually prepared, smoked, and thinly cut to resemble pork bacon. Its texture closely resembles that of bacon but with a meaty taste. The only downside of turkey bacon is that it doesn’t crisp nicely as bacon.
Beef bacon is cut from the short plate with fat ribbons across it. It’s a good bacon substitute due to its low-fat content and loads of protein. Cured beef has high sodium levels, so people with high blood pressure should consume it in moderation.
What other meat could take the place of bacon other than capiola? It is delicious and crisps nicely, just like bacon. It is healthy with low in fat and high in protein.
Vegan products that taste like bacon
Shiitake mushrooms have a buttery taste and are a healthy bacon taste alternative. When dried, it takes a smoky meat flavor not far from bacon.
Tempeh strips are basically fermented soy beans. They are excellent salad snacks when fried or baked. It is loaded with proteins and has no cholesterol in it!
Coconut bacon has heart-friendly cholesterol and contains minerals and vitamins. To bring in the bacon taste, serve it with sweet and savory combos like ice cream or pancakes.
What Does Bacon Smell Like?
The smell of bacon is sweet. It makes your nose twitch when you get its scent in your room on one of those lazy weekend mornings. The secret to the smell lies in the Maillard reaction that occurs when sugar and amino acids heat. When the bacon is smoked, the nitrites used in curing it also react with fat to release compounds like aldehydes and hydrocarbons that emit the heavenly smell of bacon.
I know you get to wonder what that crispy and sizzling bacon on the fast-food restaurant sandwich smells like. Does it smell like ham or toast? Although cooked bacon might smell like ham, bacon has a distinctive bacon smell that stands out.
Raw bacon has a raw pork belly smell, which means that the bacon smell doesn’t come from the meat itself. Cooking the bacon strips at high temperatures is what brings out the bacon smell. The smell bacon emits is close to that of smoke, fat, and salt. Coupled with the Maillard reaction smell, it creates that unique bacon scent.
Some foods hit the food industry with a bang and fade away relatively fast. For instance, years ago, the toast was one most loved food worldwide, but as of now, it lost its glory. However, bacon has always maintained its popularity.
Did you know that bacon has a movement? The Bacon Mania is a movement for people who passionately love bacon. It dates back to the ’90s when high protein foods started gaining popularity. Ever since then, the movement organizes events to celebrate bacon.
You will find ice cream flavored with bacon, bacon-infused soap, and oh, there’s also bacon cologne! Another great bacon invention that hit the waves when the pandemic struck was the production of bacon-scented face masks. So upon, wearing the mask, you smell the bacon. Such a great way to have people put their masks on!
There is also a bacon alarm clock that, once it rings, emits the smell of bacon to wake people up in the morning. Imagine inhaling into bacon every time your alarm rings? Great! With that knowledge on bacon, you might wonder what makes this particular pig piece stand out? Check out the reasons bacon is a darling to many.
- Its’ versatility is excellent.
- It is amusing with that salty, fatty, and crisp bite which is so satisfying.
- It is indulgent, and everyone loves the sweet and salty taste.
- It has a taste of home.
Now that you have a hint of what bacon tastes like, you won’t hesitate to explain it to a friend who has never had one. Keep in mind that the taste and smell might differ from one person to another, but there would be nothing as fulfilling as waking to some bacon taste or having to enjoy that salad with some crisp bacon strips.
Rita C. Donnell (Jennifer) has spent the last 26 years studying and practicing nutrition science. She has used a larger part of this time in improving people’s livelihoods. She has done so by coming up with unquestionable ideas on how to tackle food problems in her community. Readmore