You might remember Dr Fry’s recent article on food labelling and changes in the way added water must be declared on bacon packs, which got Dr Fry’s team of dedicated and highly attractive Quantum Fryup Theorists wondering just how much of your lovely bacon is left to eat after it has been cooked, are cheap brands actually good value, are expensive brands worth the extra investment?
This gave Dr Fry the ideal excuse to go bacon shopping and do some important and essential research on your behalf.
This little study is not exhaustive, nor is it all that scientific but all the products have been cooked in very similar conditions, weighed accurately before and after shrinkage and judged on taste, texture and appearance by Dr Fry himself (it’s a hard job 😁).
There will be further tests scheduled in to sample a broader range of bacons and cross-check significant anomalies. A couple of rashers of each product had their rind lightly snipped (to aid even cooking), were weighed, fried for four minutes each side in identical pans on a consistent medium heat, rested briefly, weighed again and then smashed. (Where rashers were pathetically small, three rashers were used)
We are kicking off with six brands, four of which have been cured with injected brine and two dry-cured, all available off local supermarket shelves. These are presented in price per kg order.
Farm Foods Smoked Back Bacon 200g
This was the cheapest Dr Fry could find at £5 per kilo and arrived in the laboratory frozen, so it was thawed to room temperature. It didn’t actually look too gruesome but the rashers were tiny so we had to use three to keep the sample sizes reasonably consistent. It brined up heavily in the pan and shrank rapidly. It had a tough cardboardy texture and tasted overpoweringly salty. 53% of the original weight had been lost during cooking. Our low expectations were more than met.
Aldi Freshcure Smoked Back Bacon (twin pack) 500g
This bacon is fairly representative of biggest selling middle of the road bacons available everywhere, for £5.50 a kilo it looked ok and didn’t seem to brine up or shrink as much as the Farm Foods.
It tasted below average with a tough chewy texture and again a very strong salty taste. The big surprise is that we lost a whopping 58% of the original weight which was the highest in this sample of six.
Asda Value Smoked Bacon 312g
Horrible packaging, horrible looking bacon, £5.60 a kilo we weren’t looking forward to this. We were wrong, it didn’t produce as much white snot as the first two, looked far nicer cooked than raw and tasted a lot better than the first two sampled. It also only lost 52% of the original weight.
Aldi Sweetcure 200g
This is the first of the premium (or premium-looking) bacons although it has been cured with added brine like the first three it was attractively packaged and at £7.95 a kilo it should be. Looked good raw, looked nice in the pan, tasted really rather nice and had a good texture. We lost 48% of the original weight, which is heading in the right direction.
Simon Howie’s Dry-Cured 220g
Dr Fry was really looking forward to this one, it stated on the pack that it used 102% pig and at £12.73 a kilo we were sure that we were in for a treat. We were wrong, inside the expensive looking packaging were eight insipid, pale, thin medallions! Where was the rest of our lovely bacon!
It didn’t state the cut on the pack so we will check to make sure this wasn’t a Friday afternoon special however we weren’t happy. It went from bad to worse, the medallions shrank and cooked rapidly (we had to use three) and lost a whopping 46% of uncooked weight which was really unexpected since there was no added water in this product. Thankfully they tasted delightful if slightly chewy in texture but on the whole we weren’t very satisfied.
Edwards of Conwy Dry Cure 200g
After the upset of the last premium dry-cured bacon tested we were hoping this one would save the day, and it did.
The most expensive at £15 a kilo this looked superb raw, like proper bacon, a nice balance of lean and fat and did all the right things on the pan. By far the heaviest and thickest of the rashers it lost only 35% of uncooked weight and tasted amazing with a great texture and colour.
Here’s a little table with all the info. Was Edwards more than three times as good as Farm Foods? You bet.
We look forward to testing more bacons to see how they compare but as it stands, take a flipping bow Edwards, this is a top quality product.