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I understand that the main difference between cured and uncured bacon is that one is cured and one isn't.

But, is the curing process the same for all slab bacon? And does it make a difference, taste and texture wise, to substitute one for the other in a recipe that calls for uncured specifically?

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Once my hubs thought they were interchangable, so upon finding no cured he bought fresh. Imagine a piece of fried bacon tasting like dry and old pork. Definately not the same. – jkadlubowska Aug 14 '13 at 10:51
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Unfortunately, some of the answer depends on how you define "bacon", and what you mean by "cured", and "uncured". The answer could be different depending on where you live. Are you in the UK? The USA? Another country? I know that what we call bacon can be from different cuts of pork in different regions.

Curing can be different depending on where you live, or what flavors the person doing the curing likes to use. There will be salt involved in the curing, and again, depending on where you live and the customs/regulations involved, and often some source of nitrate or nitrite, to prevent some nasty bacteria. A pleasant side effect of these additions is the deepening of the red/pink color many of us associate with bacon, though some of the redness of the meat is based on the diet of the animal, too.

(Whether from saltpeter, or curing salt (a purposely colored curing salt, to distinguish it from white sodium chloride), or celery juice, which contains a high quantity of the same chemicals, the nitrates and nitrites are added in very tiny quantities. They don't need much, and are usually in smaller concentrations than are found naturally in water and in leafy green vegetables)

What makes the cures taste different (besides the saltiness) is the other kinds of herbs, spices, and sweeteners used in the cure mixture, and whether or not the bacon is smoked, to add additional flavors.

Texture wise, the main difference between cured and uncured bacon is that the uncured bacon will have a much higher water content than the cured bacon, so the fat will not be as dense.

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