bacon, flesh of hogs—especially from the sides, belly, or back—that has been preserved by being salted or pickled and then dried with or without wood smoke. Traditionally, the process consisted of soaking the pork in brine or rubbing it in a salt mixture by hand, then smoking the sides in smoke from an open chimney. It sometimes took three or four months. Bacon is still home cured in some rural communities, but the bulk of its manufacture is carried on in large industrial meatpacking plants equipped to slaughter, dress, cure, smoke, and sell on a large scale. Bacon refers to different cuts in different countries. In the United States it usually means the side between the fifth rib and the hipbone. In Europe, the word bacon generally refers to one half of a fattened pig. Bacon has one of the highest fat contents of any cut of meat.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.