Are there different grades or styles of bacon?

The name of the pictureThe name of the pictureThe name of the pictureClash Royale CLAN TAG#URR8PPP

up vote
22
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favorite

In commercials and when I go to restaurants (even fast food!) the bacon that I get is a reddish brown color and seems to be mostly meat, or at least meat textured. However, when I buy bacon at the grocery store, it’s inevitably almost all fat. It curls badly when cooked, creates a ton of grease, and never looks anything like what “professional” bacon does.

I’ve tried thin sliced, thick sliced, apple wood smoked, etc. , etc. and I always seem to have the same problem. I try to look through the packages and I can never find anything that has mostly meat (lots of white fat). Even when I find a pack that looks good, it seems like the few slices I can see are meaty, but the rest are again mostly fatty.

So, what is the secret? Where do restaurants get their perfect bacon? Do I need to ask the grocery meet department for a secret stash of pro bacon? Do I need to go out of my way to a special shop? Is there a name for what I’m looking for other than “bacon”?

I’m in the US, Texas. I know other countries have different ideas of what “bacon” is (right?).

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  • 1

    As this is not the first question we get about bacon: Advice on how to prepare should go in cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/29776 and other preparation-specific questions. This one should stay for describing styles of bacon and their differences.
    – rumtscho
    Nov 29 at 16:31

  • 1

    Well, my main concern is the look and feel of the bacon. Even coloring, consistent texture, and more meat content. I don’t think it’s only a cooking technique because of the amount of white gristly fat that I can’t seem to avoid in store-bought bacon. If I’m way off base, an answer could be “You need to change your cooking techniques and that will solve your issues because…”, but right now I feel like there is some “restaurant grade bacon” that I can’t find.
    – JPhi1618
    Nov 29 at 16:52

  • 4

    @JPhi1618 I would definitely consider looking for local butchers, especially those that process for home farms and hunters. They will typically either smoke and cure themselves or work with a smokehouse and will tend to work with hand selected bellies. Curing will vary, so you may need to try more than one, The will often have sliced in the counter though so you can see exactly what you are getting and may well be using lighter curing and less artificial coloring and may well custom slice it for you to your desired thickness. It will come at a price, but that is to be expected.
    – dlb
    Nov 29 at 19:47

  • 1

    How are you cooking it? If you cook it too fast, the fat won’t have time to render, which will leave a lot of rubbery fat. The bacon your getting in the restaurant may appear more meaty because the fat is fully rendered.
    – cad
    Nov 29 at 19:51

  • 1

    Co-incidentally Epicurious put up a video all about bacon today. I don’t think it answers your question, but you might find it interesting.
    – Spagirl
    Nov 29 at 20:33

up vote
22
down vote

favorite

In commercials and when I go to restaurants (even fast food!) the bacon that I get is a reddish brown color and seems to be mostly meat, or at least meat textured. However, when I buy bacon at the grocery store, it’s inevitably almost all fat. It curls badly when cooked, creates a ton of grease, and never looks anything like what “professional” bacon does.

I’ve tried thin sliced, thick sliced, apple wood smoked, etc. , etc. and I always seem to have the same problem. I try to look through the packages and I can never find anything that has mostly meat (lots of white fat). Even when I find a pack that looks good, it seems like the few slices I can see are meaty, but the rest are again mostly fatty.

So, what is the secret? Where do restaurants get their perfect bacon? Do I need to ask the grocery meet department for a secret stash of pro bacon? Do I need to go out of my way to a special shop? Is there a name for what I’m looking for other than “bacon”?

I’m in the US, Texas. I know other countries have different ideas of what “bacon” is (right?).

share|improve this question

  • 1

    As this is not the first question we get about bacon: Advice on how to prepare should go in cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/29776 and other preparation-specific questions. This one should stay for describing styles of bacon and their differences.
    – rumtscho
    Nov 29 at 16:31

  • 1

    Well, my main concern is the look and feel of the bacon. Even coloring, consistent texture, and more meat content. I don’t think it’s only a cooking technique because of the amount of white gristly fat that I can’t seem to avoid in store-bought bacon. If I’m way off base, an answer could be “You need to change your cooking techniques and that will solve your issues because…”, but right now I feel like there is some “restaurant grade bacon” that I can’t find.
    – JPhi1618
    Nov 29 at 16:52

  • 4

    @JPhi1618 I would definitely consider looking for local butchers, especially those that process for home farms and hunters. They will typically either smoke and cure themselves or work with a smokehouse and will tend to work with hand selected bellies. Curing will vary, so you may need to try more than one, The will often have sliced in the counter though so you can see exactly what you are getting and may well be using lighter curing and less artificial coloring and may well custom slice it for you to your desired thickness. It will come at a price, but that is to be expected.
    – dlb
    Nov 29 at 19:47

  • 1

    How are you cooking it? If you cook it too fast, the fat won’t have time to render, which will leave a lot of rubbery fat. The bacon your getting in the restaurant may appear more meaty because the fat is fully rendered.
    – cad
    Nov 29 at 19:51

  • 1

    Co-incidentally Epicurious put up a video all about bacon today. I don’t think it answers your question, but you might find it interesting.
    – Spagirl
    Nov 29 at 20:33

up vote
22
down vote

favorite

up vote
22
down vote

favorite

In commercials and when I go to restaurants (even fast food!) the bacon that I get is a reddish brown color and seems to be mostly meat, or at least meat textured. However, when I buy bacon at the grocery store, it’s inevitably almost all fat. It curls badly when cooked, creates a ton of grease, and never looks anything like what “professional” bacon does.

I’ve tried thin sliced, thick sliced, apple wood smoked, etc. , etc. and I always seem to have the same problem. I try to look through the packages and I can never find anything that has mostly meat (lots of white fat). Even when I find a pack that looks good, it seems like the few slices I can see are meaty, but the rest are again mostly fatty.

So, what is the secret? Where do restaurants get their perfect bacon? Do I need to ask the grocery meet department for a secret stash of pro bacon? Do I need to go out of my way to a special shop? Is there a name for what I’m looking for other than “bacon”?

I’m in the US, Texas. I know other countries have different ideas of what “bacon” is (right?).

share|improve this question

In commercials and when I go to restaurants (even fast food!) the bacon that I get is a reddish brown color and seems to be mostly meat, or at least meat textured. However, when I buy bacon at the grocery store, it’s inevitably almost all fat. It curls badly when cooked, creates a ton of grease, and never looks anything like what “professional” bacon does.

I’ve tried thin sliced, thick sliced, apple wood smoked, etc. , etc. and I always seem to have the same problem. I try to look through the packages and I can never find anything that has mostly meat (lots of white fat). Even when I find a pack that looks good, it seems like the few slices I can see are meaty, but the rest are again mostly fatty.

So, what is the secret? Where do restaurants get their perfect bacon? Do I need to ask the grocery meet department for a secret stash of pro bacon? Do I need to go out of my way to a special shop? Is there a name for what I’m looking for other than “bacon”?

I’m in the US, Texas. I know other countries have different ideas of what “bacon” is (right?).

meat ingredient-selection bacon

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asked Nov 29 at 15:39

JPhi1618

2952411

2952411

  • 1

    As this is not the first question we get about bacon: Advice on how to prepare should go in cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/29776 and other preparation-specific questions. This one should stay for describing styles of bacon and their differences.
    – rumtscho
    Nov 29 at 16:31

  • 1

    Well, my main concern is the look and feel of the bacon. Even coloring, consistent texture, and more meat content. I don’t think it’s only a cooking technique because of the amount of white gristly fat that I can’t seem to avoid in store-bought bacon. If I’m way off base, an answer could be “You need to change your cooking techniques and that will solve your issues because…”, but right now I feel like there is some “restaurant grade bacon” that I can’t find.
    – JPhi1618
    Nov 29 at 16:52

  • 4

    @JPhi1618 I would definitely consider looking for local butchers, especially those that process for home farms and hunters. They will typically either smoke and cure themselves or work with a smokehouse and will tend to work with hand selected bellies. Curing will vary, so you may need to try more than one, The will often have sliced in the counter though so you can see exactly what you are getting and may well be using lighter curing and less artificial coloring and may well custom slice it for you to your desired thickness. It will come at a price, but that is to be expected.
    – dlb
    Nov 29 at 19:47

  • 1

    How are you cooking it? If you cook it too fast, the fat won’t have time to render, which will leave a lot of rubbery fat. The bacon your getting in the restaurant may appear more meaty because the fat is fully rendered.
    – cad
    Nov 29 at 19:51

  • 1

    Co-incidentally Epicurious put up a video all about bacon today. I don’t think it answers your question, but you might find it interesting.
    – Spagirl
    Nov 29 at 20:33

  • 1

    As this is not the first question we get about bacon: Advice on how to prepare should go in cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/29776 and other preparation-specific questions. This one should stay for describing styles of bacon and their differences.
    – rumtscho
    Nov 29 at 16:31

  • 1

    Well, my main concern is the look and feel of the bacon. Even coloring, consistent texture, and more meat content. I don’t think it’s only a cooking technique because of the amount of white gristly fat that I can’t seem to avoid in store-bought bacon. If I’m way off base, an answer could be “You need to change your cooking techniques and that will solve your issues because…”, but right now I feel like there is some “restaurant grade bacon” that I can’t find.
    – JPhi1618
    Nov 29 at 16:52

  • 4

    @JPhi1618 I would definitely consider looking for local butchers, especially those that process for home farms and hunters. They will typically either smoke and cure themselves or work with a smokehouse and will tend to work with hand selected bellies. Curing will vary, so you may need to try more than one, The will often have sliced in the counter though so you can see exactly what you are getting and may well be using lighter curing and less artificial coloring and may well custom slice it for you to your desired thickness. It will come at a price, but that is to be expected.
    – dlb
    Nov 29 at 19:47

  • 1

    How are you cooking it? If you cook it too fast, the fat won’t have time to render, which will leave a lot of rubbery fat. The bacon your getting in the restaurant may appear more meaty because the fat is fully rendered.
    – cad
    Nov 29 at 19:51

  • 1

    Co-incidentally Epicurious put up a video all about bacon today. I don’t think it answers your question, but you might find it interesting.
    – Spagirl
    Nov 29 at 20:33

1

1

As this is not the first question we get about bacon: Advice on how to prepare should go in cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/29776 and other preparation-specific questions. This one should stay for describing styles of bacon and their differences.
– rumtscho
Nov 29 at 16:31

As this is not the first question we get about bacon: Advice on how to prepare should go in cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/29776 and other preparation-specific questions. This one should stay for describing styles of bacon and their differences.
– rumtscho
Nov 29 at 16:31

1

1

Well, my main concern is the look and feel of the bacon. Even coloring, consistent texture, and more meat content. I don’t think it’s only a cooking technique because of the amount of white gristly fat that I can’t seem to avoid in store-bought bacon. If I’m way off base, an answer could be “You need to change your cooking techniques and that will solve your issues because…”, but right now I feel like there is some “restaurant grade bacon” that I can’t find.
– JPhi1618
Nov 29 at 16:52

Well, my main concern is the look and feel of the bacon. Even coloring, consistent texture, and more meat content. I don’t think it’s only a cooking technique because of the amount of white gristly fat that I can’t seem to avoid in store-bought bacon. If I’m way off base, an answer could be “You need to change your cooking techniques and that will solve your issues because…”, but right now I feel like there is some “restaurant grade bacon” that I can’t find.
– JPhi1618
Nov 29 at 16:52

4

4

@JPhi1618 I would definitely consider looking for local butchers, especially those that process for home farms and hunters. They will typically either smoke and cure themselves or work with a smokehouse and will tend to work with hand selected bellies. Curing will vary, so you may need to try more than one, The will often have sliced in the counter though so you can see exactly what you are getting and may well be using lighter curing and less artificial coloring and may well custom slice it for you to your desired thickness. It will come at a price, but that is to be expected.
– dlb
Nov 29 at 19:47

@JPhi1618 I would definitely consider looking for local butchers, especially those that process for home farms and hunters. They will typically either smoke and cure themselves or work with a smokehouse and will tend to work with hand selected bellies. Curing will vary, so you may need to try more than one, The will often have sliced in the counter though so you can see exactly what you are getting and may well be using lighter curing and less artificial coloring and may well custom slice it for you to your desired thickness. It will come at a price, but that is to be expected.
– dlb
Nov 29 at 19:47

1

1

How are you cooking it? If you cook it too fast, the fat won’t have time to render, which will leave a lot of rubbery fat. The bacon your getting in the restaurant may appear more meaty because the fat is fully rendered.
– cad
Nov 29 at 19:51

How are you cooking it? If you cook it too fast, the fat won’t have time to render, which will leave a lot of rubbery fat. The bacon your getting in the restaurant may appear more meaty because the fat is fully rendered.
– cad
Nov 29 at 19:51

1

1

Co-incidentally Epicurious put up a video all about bacon today. I don’t think it answers your question, but you might find it interesting.
– Spagirl
Nov 29 at 20:33

Co-incidentally Epicurious put up a video all about bacon today. I don’t think it answers your question, but you might find it interesting.
– Spagirl
Nov 29 at 20:33

6 Answers
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up vote
21
down vote

In the UK there are two main cuts of bacon.

There’s “streaky bacon”, which is cut from the pork belly. This is mostly what you get in the US.

There’s also “back bacon” which is cut from the pork loin. This is generally more popular and is very much leaner than streaky bacon. In the US you call it “Canadian bacon”.

You can also get “middle bacon” which is cut from both, i.e. a contiguous cut from belly to loin – a piece of streaky bacon and back bacon combined.

share|improve this answer

  • 4

    In the US, there is another cut typically called cottage bacon that is from shoulder. It is typically more fatty than back bacon, but far less than belly, or streaked as you would name it and has a consistency somewhat mid between the two, closer to meaty bacon than ham of back bacon. I have never seen it produced commercially, only at home and a few custom smoke houses. Here at least most back bacon tends to be cured like a semi-hard ham with little to no fat and used for things like pizza and breakfast sandwiches, not often as a side. We seem to have more of an addiction to bacon fat.
    – dlb
    Nov 29 at 21:49

  • 1

    As well as streaky bacon and back bacon, there is also collar bacon and neck bacon (not sure if these last two are the same).
    – Ed Avis
    Dec 2 at 16:45

up vote
16
down vote

More explicit answer for the USA: USDA says that bacon is not graded.

Is bacon inspected and graded?

All bacon found in retail stores is either USDA inspected for wholesomeness or inspected by State systems that have standards equal to the Federal government. Each animal, from which the bacon is made, is inspected for signs of disease. The “Inspected and Passed by USDA” seal ensures the bacon is wholesome.

Bacon is not graded.

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    up vote
    10
    down vote

    I am going to say that in most cases, labels like premium, artisan, etc. are marketing gimmicks. I do not know of any labeling rules that will tell you a given bacon is from a better quality pork belly than another. But, there is certainly a difference, and cheap bacon is just that, cheap and been made from the cheapest pork bellies obtained in mass. In general, they come from large hogs that are fatty and have little lean in their bellies. Meatier bacon, more lean tends to be from younger animals which are less economical for mass producers so will cost much more and tend to go to restaurants at a higher price. Family restaurants like breakfast houses will mostly use common bacon, and the will also tend to oven prep it as offered in comments which allows for more even cooking, cooking in quantity and controlling curling.

    If you want leaner, that is with a higher amount of muscle tissue, that is what typically the windows on bacon packs are for, taking a look. The cheaper, mass produced will seldom be high meat content though. The specialty (read expensive) ones will have a better shot at lower percentage of fat. If however you find a butcher shop, especially one that cures and smokes their own meats, that is when you will likely find bacon that has been made from hand selected bellies with the highest muscle content.

    I have been lucky in that local stores have started carrying raw pork bellies, so I make my own and can hand pick my own bellies and get the meat content I want. One thing you should know though, if you go over a certain level, some people do not like the results. At the highest level of muscle, the bacon can start to be too lean for many people’s taste and start to become tough. More muscle content can sometimes also increase the tendencies to curl as well because the muscle can contract more during cooking than the fat. Again, going to the oven might be the easiest approach to reducing this.

    share|improve this answer

    • 5

      “windows on bacon packs” are in my experience strategically abused to show all meat and no fat. There are probably whole departments that design ways to push as much meaty parts into that window. Similar gimmick to “artisan” label.
      – aaaaaa
      Nov 29 at 17:52

    • 3

      @aaaaaa The windows on the back of commercially packed bacon Is in no way strategically abused.
      – Cindy
      Nov 29 at 18:10

    • 2

      I’ve certainly seen cases of window to bacon alignment that made it look like a better cut than it really was. I won’t go so far as to say it’s intentional, but it does happen on certain package styles.
      – JPhi1618
      Nov 29 at 19:37

    • 9

      @aaaaaa Sorry, I didn’t mean it to sound sarcastic. I should have elaborated. What I was aiming at is that in most commercial production the process is automated. And while some of the windows are larger than others, what you can see is just what happens to land there.
      – Cindy
      Nov 29 at 20:12

    • 2

      In addition to the ovens used at restaurants, many fast food joints cook their bacon in a press, which renders the fat quicker and prevents curling. You can get a similar effect at home using a bacon press like this one: amazon.com/Norpro-8-75-Inch-Bacon-Press-Handle/dp/B0000DDVV9
      – Wolfgang
      Nov 30 at 14:12

    up vote
    3
    down vote

    The bacon you see on tv has been cooked. Once you cook the fatty bacon you can buy, you will see that it is pretty uniformly brown. If you cook it correctly that is, so it’s crisp, and don’t just try to microwave it or something :-)?

    You’re assuming that fat is bad. In meats at least, it’s the primary vector of flavor. You’re not in any case generally meant to keep ALL the fat thrown off in the cooking process for the rest of the dish. People frequently drain bacon which will be eaten separately on a paper towel on a plate, for instance.

    So test bacons out, see what level of additives you can stand, personally I prefer mine uncured, not a legal term but usually means nitrate-free. But don’t try to pick by eyeballing the fat content, that’s if anything counter-productive.

    share|improve this answer

      up vote
      1
      down vote

      In my experience, ‘center-cut’ bacon tends to have a much higher meat/fat ratio than major brand bacon. It’s also more expensive.

      share|improve this answer

        up vote
        1
        down vote

        “Irish” Bacon is made from the back of the pig, not the pork belly; it’s much leaner, but hard to find in Minneapolis where I live.

        share|improve this answer

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          6 Answers
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          up vote
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          In the UK there are two main cuts of bacon.

          There’s “streaky bacon”, which is cut from the pork belly. This is mostly what you get in the US.

          There’s also “back bacon” which is cut from the pork loin. This is generally more popular and is very much leaner than streaky bacon. In the US you call it “Canadian bacon”.

          You can also get “middle bacon” which is cut from both, i.e. a contiguous cut from belly to loin – a piece of streaky bacon and back bacon combined.

          share|improve this answer

          • 4

            In the US, there is another cut typically called cottage bacon that is from shoulder. It is typically more fatty than back bacon, but far less than belly, or streaked as you would name it and has a consistency somewhat mid between the two, closer to meaty bacon than ham of back bacon. I have never seen it produced commercially, only at home and a few custom smoke houses. Here at least most back bacon tends to be cured like a semi-hard ham with little to no fat and used for things like pizza and breakfast sandwiches, not often as a side. We seem to have more of an addiction to bacon fat.
            – dlb
            Nov 29 at 21:49

          • 1

            As well as streaky bacon and back bacon, there is also collar bacon and neck bacon (not sure if these last two are the same).
            – Ed Avis
            Dec 2 at 16:45

          up vote
          21
          down vote

          In the UK there are two main cuts of bacon.

          There’s “streaky bacon”, which is cut from the pork belly. This is mostly what you get in the US.

          There’s also “back bacon” which is cut from the pork loin. This is generally more popular and is very much leaner than streaky bacon. In the US you call it “Canadian bacon”.

          You can also get “middle bacon” which is cut from both, i.e. a contiguous cut from belly to loin – a piece of streaky bacon and back bacon combined.

          share|improve this answer

          • 4

            In the US, there is another cut typically called cottage bacon that is from shoulder. It is typically more fatty than back bacon, but far less than belly, or streaked as you would name it and has a consistency somewhat mid between the two, closer to meaty bacon than ham of back bacon. I have never seen it produced commercially, only at home and a few custom smoke houses. Here at least most back bacon tends to be cured like a semi-hard ham with little to no fat and used for things like pizza and breakfast sandwiches, not often as a side. We seem to have more of an addiction to bacon fat.
            – dlb
            Nov 29 at 21:49

          • 1

            As well as streaky bacon and back bacon, there is also collar bacon and neck bacon (not sure if these last two are the same).
            – Ed Avis
            Dec 2 at 16:45

          up vote
          21
          down vote

          up vote
          21
          down vote

          In the UK there are two main cuts of bacon.

          There’s “streaky bacon”, which is cut from the pork belly. This is mostly what you get in the US.

          There’s also “back bacon” which is cut from the pork loin. This is generally more popular and is very much leaner than streaky bacon. In the US you call it “Canadian bacon”.

          You can also get “middle bacon” which is cut from both, i.e. a contiguous cut from belly to loin – a piece of streaky bacon and back bacon combined.

          share|improve this answer

          In the UK there are two main cuts of bacon.

          There’s “streaky bacon”, which is cut from the pork belly. This is mostly what you get in the US.

          There’s also “back bacon” which is cut from the pork loin. This is generally more popular and is very much leaner than streaky bacon. In the US you call it “Canadian bacon”.

          You can also get “middle bacon” which is cut from both, i.e. a contiguous cut from belly to loin – a piece of streaky bacon and back bacon combined.

          share|improve this answer

          share|improve this answer

          share|improve this answer

          answered Nov 29 at 20:06

          Alnitak

          31913

          31913

          • 4

            In the US, there is another cut typically called cottage bacon that is from shoulder. It is typically more fatty than back bacon, but far less than belly, or streaked as you would name it and has a consistency somewhat mid between the two, closer to meaty bacon than ham of back bacon. I have never seen it produced commercially, only at home and a few custom smoke houses. Here at least most back bacon tends to be cured like a semi-hard ham with little to no fat and used for things like pizza and breakfast sandwiches, not often as a side. We seem to have more of an addiction to bacon fat.
            – dlb
            Nov 29 at 21:49

          • 1

            As well as streaky bacon and back bacon, there is also collar bacon and neck bacon (not sure if these last two are the same).
            – Ed Avis
            Dec 2 at 16:45

          • 4

            In the US, there is another cut typically called cottage bacon that is from shoulder. It is typically more fatty than back bacon, but far less than belly, or streaked as you would name it and has a consistency somewhat mid between the two, closer to meaty bacon than ham of back bacon. I have never seen it produced commercially, only at home and a few custom smoke houses. Here at least most back bacon tends to be cured like a semi-hard ham with little to no fat and used for things like pizza and breakfast sandwiches, not often as a side. We seem to have more of an addiction to bacon fat.
            – dlb
            Nov 29 at 21:49

          • 1

            As well as streaky bacon and back bacon, there is also collar bacon and neck bacon (not sure if these last two are the same).
            – Ed Avis
            Dec 2 at 16:45

          4

          4

          In the US, there is another cut typically called cottage bacon that is from shoulder. It is typically more fatty than back bacon, but far less than belly, or streaked as you would name it and has a consistency somewhat mid between the two, closer to meaty bacon than ham of back bacon. I have never seen it produced commercially, only at home and a few custom smoke houses. Here at least most back bacon tends to be cured like a semi-hard ham with little to no fat and used for things like pizza and breakfast sandwiches, not often as a side. We seem to have more of an addiction to bacon fat.
          – dlb
          Nov 29 at 21:49

          In the US, there is another cut typically called cottage bacon that is from shoulder. It is typically more fatty than back bacon, but far less than belly, or streaked as you would name it and has a consistency somewhat mid between the two, closer to meaty bacon than ham of back bacon. I have never seen it produced commercially, only at home and a few custom smoke houses. Here at least most back bacon tends to be cured like a semi-hard ham with little to no fat and used for things like pizza and breakfast sandwiches, not often as a side. We seem to have more of an addiction to bacon fat.
          – dlb
          Nov 29 at 21:49

          1

          1

          As well as streaky bacon and back bacon, there is also collar bacon and neck bacon (not sure if these last two are the same).
          – Ed Avis
          Dec 2 at 16:45

          As well as streaky bacon and back bacon, there is also collar bacon and neck bacon (not sure if these last two are the same).
          – Ed Avis
          Dec 2 at 16:45

          up vote
          16
          down vote

          More explicit answer for the USA: USDA says that bacon is not graded.

          Is bacon inspected and graded?

          All bacon found in retail stores is either USDA inspected for wholesomeness or inspected by State systems that have standards equal to the Federal government. Each animal, from which the bacon is made, is inspected for signs of disease. The “Inspected and Passed by USDA” seal ensures the bacon is wholesome.

          Bacon is not graded.

          share|improve this answer

            up vote
            16
            down vote

            More explicit answer for the USA: USDA says that bacon is not graded.

            Is bacon inspected and graded?

            All bacon found in retail stores is either USDA inspected for wholesomeness or inspected by State systems that have standards equal to the Federal government. Each animal, from which the bacon is made, is inspected for signs of disease. The “Inspected and Passed by USDA” seal ensures the bacon is wholesome.

            Bacon is not graded.

            share|improve this answer

              up vote
              16
              down vote

              up vote
              16
              down vote

              More explicit answer for the USA: USDA says that bacon is not graded.

              Is bacon inspected and graded?

              All bacon found in retail stores is either USDA inspected for wholesomeness or inspected by State systems that have standards equal to the Federal government. Each animal, from which the bacon is made, is inspected for signs of disease. The “Inspected and Passed by USDA” seal ensures the bacon is wholesome.

              Bacon is not graded.

              share|improve this answer

              More explicit answer for the USA: USDA says that bacon is not graded.

              Is bacon inspected and graded?

              All bacon found in retail stores is either USDA inspected for wholesomeness or inspected by State systems that have standards equal to the Federal government. Each animal, from which the bacon is made, is inspected for signs of disease. The “Inspected and Passed by USDA” seal ensures the bacon is wholesome.

              Bacon is not graded.

              share|improve this answer

              share|improve this answer

              share|improve this answer

              edited Nov 30 at 17:40

              answered Nov 29 at 17:50

              aaaaaa

              328211

              328211

                  up vote
                  10
                  down vote

                  I am going to say that in most cases, labels like premium, artisan, etc. are marketing gimmicks. I do not know of any labeling rules that will tell you a given bacon is from a better quality pork belly than another. But, there is certainly a difference, and cheap bacon is just that, cheap and been made from the cheapest pork bellies obtained in mass. In general, they come from large hogs that are fatty and have little lean in their bellies. Meatier bacon, more lean tends to be from younger animals which are less economical for mass producers so will cost much more and tend to go to restaurants at a higher price. Family restaurants like breakfast houses will mostly use common bacon, and the will also tend to oven prep it as offered in comments which allows for more even cooking, cooking in quantity and controlling curling.

                  If you want leaner, that is with a higher amount of muscle tissue, that is what typically the windows on bacon packs are for, taking a look. The cheaper, mass produced will seldom be high meat content though. The specialty (read expensive) ones will have a better shot at lower percentage of fat. If however you find a butcher shop, especially one that cures and smokes their own meats, that is when you will likely find bacon that has been made from hand selected bellies with the highest muscle content.

                  I have been lucky in that local stores have started carrying raw pork bellies, so I make my own and can hand pick my own bellies and get the meat content I want. One thing you should know though, if you go over a certain level, some people do not like the results. At the highest level of muscle, the bacon can start to be too lean for many people’s taste and start to become tough. More muscle content can sometimes also increase the tendencies to curl as well because the muscle can contract more during cooking than the fat. Again, going to the oven might be the easiest approach to reducing this.

                  share|improve this answer

                  • 5

                    “windows on bacon packs” are in my experience strategically abused to show all meat and no fat. There are probably whole departments that design ways to push as much meaty parts into that window. Similar gimmick to “artisan” label.
                    – aaaaaa
                    Nov 29 at 17:52

                  • 3

                    @aaaaaa The windows on the back of commercially packed bacon Is in no way strategically abused.
                    – Cindy
                    Nov 29 at 18:10

                  • 2

                    I’ve certainly seen cases of window to bacon alignment that made it look like a better cut than it really was. I won’t go so far as to say it’s intentional, but it does happen on certain package styles.
                    – JPhi1618
                    Nov 29 at 19:37

                  • 9

                    @aaaaaa Sorry, I didn’t mean it to sound sarcastic. I should have elaborated. What I was aiming at is that in most commercial production the process is automated. And while some of the windows are larger than others, what you can see is just what happens to land there.
                    – Cindy
                    Nov 29 at 20:12

                  • 2

                    In addition to the ovens used at restaurants, many fast food joints cook their bacon in a press, which renders the fat quicker and prevents curling. You can get a similar effect at home using a bacon press like this one: amazon.com/Norpro-8-75-Inch-Bacon-Press-Handle/dp/B0000DDVV9
                    – Wolfgang
                    Nov 30 at 14:12

                  up vote
                  10
                  down vote

                  I am going to say that in most cases, labels like premium, artisan, etc. are marketing gimmicks. I do not know of any labeling rules that will tell you a given bacon is from a better quality pork belly than another. But, there is certainly a difference, and cheap bacon is just that, cheap and been made from the cheapest pork bellies obtained in mass. In general, they come from large hogs that are fatty and have little lean in their bellies. Meatier bacon, more lean tends to be from younger animals which are less economical for mass producers so will cost much more and tend to go to restaurants at a higher price. Family restaurants like breakfast houses will mostly use common bacon, and the will also tend to oven prep it as offered in comments which allows for more even cooking, cooking in quantity and controlling curling.

                  If you want leaner, that is with a higher amount of muscle tissue, that is what typically the windows on bacon packs are for, taking a look. The cheaper, mass produced will seldom be high meat content though. The specialty (read expensive) ones will have a better shot at lower percentage of fat. If however you find a butcher shop, especially one that cures and smokes their own meats, that is when you will likely find bacon that has been made from hand selected bellies with the highest muscle content.

                  I have been lucky in that local stores have started carrying raw pork bellies, so I make my own and can hand pick my own bellies and get the meat content I want. One thing you should know though, if you go over a certain level, some people do not like the results. At the highest level of muscle, the bacon can start to be too lean for many people’s taste and start to become tough. More muscle content can sometimes also increase the tendencies to curl as well because the muscle can contract more during cooking than the fat. Again, going to the oven might be the easiest approach to reducing this.

                  share|improve this answer

                  • 5

                    “windows on bacon packs” are in my experience strategically abused to show all meat and no fat. There are probably whole departments that design ways to push as much meaty parts into that window. Similar gimmick to “artisan” label.
                    – aaaaaa
                    Nov 29 at 17:52

                  • 3

                    @aaaaaa The windows on the back of commercially packed bacon Is in no way strategically abused.
                    – Cindy
                    Nov 29 at 18:10

                  • 2

                    I’ve certainly seen cases of window to bacon alignment that made it look like a better cut than it really was. I won’t go so far as to say it’s intentional, but it does happen on certain package styles.
                    – JPhi1618
                    Nov 29 at 19:37

                  • 9

                    @aaaaaa Sorry, I didn’t mean it to sound sarcastic. I should have elaborated. What I was aiming at is that in most commercial production the process is automated. And while some of the windows are larger than others, what you can see is just what happens to land there.
                    – Cindy
                    Nov 29 at 20:12

                  • 2

                    In addition to the ovens used at restaurants, many fast food joints cook their bacon in a press, which renders the fat quicker and prevents curling. You can get a similar effect at home using a bacon press like this one: amazon.com/Norpro-8-75-Inch-Bacon-Press-Handle/dp/B0000DDVV9
                    – Wolfgang
                    Nov 30 at 14:12

                  up vote
                  10
                  down vote

                  up vote
                  10
                  down vote

                  I am going to say that in most cases, labels like premium, artisan, etc. are marketing gimmicks. I do not know of any labeling rules that will tell you a given bacon is from a better quality pork belly than another. But, there is certainly a difference, and cheap bacon is just that, cheap and been made from the cheapest pork bellies obtained in mass. In general, they come from large hogs that are fatty and have little lean in their bellies. Meatier bacon, more lean tends to be from younger animals which are less economical for mass producers so will cost much more and tend to go to restaurants at a higher price. Family restaurants like breakfast houses will mostly use common bacon, and the will also tend to oven prep it as offered in comments which allows for more even cooking, cooking in quantity and controlling curling.

                  If you want leaner, that is with a higher amount of muscle tissue, that is what typically the windows on bacon packs are for, taking a look. The cheaper, mass produced will seldom be high meat content though. The specialty (read expensive) ones will have a better shot at lower percentage of fat. If however you find a butcher shop, especially one that cures and smokes their own meats, that is when you will likely find bacon that has been made from hand selected bellies with the highest muscle content.

                  I have been lucky in that local stores have started carrying raw pork bellies, so I make my own and can hand pick my own bellies and get the meat content I want. One thing you should know though, if you go over a certain level, some people do not like the results. At the highest level of muscle, the bacon can start to be too lean for many people’s taste and start to become tough. More muscle content can sometimes also increase the tendencies to curl as well because the muscle can contract more during cooking than the fat. Again, going to the oven might be the easiest approach to reducing this.

                  share|improve this answer

                  I am going to say that in most cases, labels like premium, artisan, etc. are marketing gimmicks. I do not know of any labeling rules that will tell you a given bacon is from a better quality pork belly than another. But, there is certainly a difference, and cheap bacon is just that, cheap and been made from the cheapest pork bellies obtained in mass. In general, they come from large hogs that are fatty and have little lean in their bellies. Meatier bacon, more lean tends to be from younger animals which are less economical for mass producers so will cost much more and tend to go to restaurants at a higher price. Family restaurants like breakfast houses will mostly use common bacon, and the will also tend to oven prep it as offered in comments which allows for more even cooking, cooking in quantity and controlling curling.

                  If you want leaner, that is with a higher amount of muscle tissue, that is what typically the windows on bacon packs are for, taking a look. The cheaper, mass produced will seldom be high meat content though. The specialty (read expensive) ones will have a better shot at lower percentage of fat. If however you find a butcher shop, especially one that cures and smokes their own meats, that is when you will likely find bacon that has been made from hand selected bellies with the highest muscle content.

                  I have been lucky in that local stores have started carrying raw pork bellies, so I make my own and can hand pick my own bellies and get the meat content I want. One thing you should know though, if you go over a certain level, some people do not like the results. At the highest level of muscle, the bacon can start to be too lean for many people’s taste and start to become tough. More muscle content can sometimes also increase the tendencies to curl as well because the muscle can contract more during cooking than the fat. Again, going to the oven might be the easiest approach to reducing this.

                  share|improve this answer

                  share|improve this answer

                  share|improve this answer

                  answered Nov 29 at 16:46

                  dlb

                  5,115925

                  5,115925

                  • 5

                    “windows on bacon packs” are in my experience strategically abused to show all meat and no fat. There are probably whole departments that design ways to push as much meaty parts into that window. Similar gimmick to “artisan” label.
                    – aaaaaa
                    Nov 29 at 17:52

                  • 3

                    @aaaaaa The windows on the back of commercially packed bacon Is in no way strategically abused.
                    – Cindy
                    Nov 29 at 18:10

                  • 2

                    I’ve certainly seen cases of window to bacon alignment that made it look like a better cut than it really was. I won’t go so far as to say it’s intentional, but it does happen on certain package styles.
                    – JPhi1618
                    Nov 29 at 19:37

                  • 9

                    @aaaaaa Sorry, I didn’t mean it to sound sarcastic. I should have elaborated. What I was aiming at is that in most commercial production the process is automated. And while some of the windows are larger than others, what you can see is just what happens to land there.
                    – Cindy
                    Nov 29 at 20:12

                  • 2

                    In addition to the ovens used at restaurants, many fast food joints cook their bacon in a press, which renders the fat quicker and prevents curling. You can get a similar effect at home using a bacon press like this one: amazon.com/Norpro-8-75-Inch-Bacon-Press-Handle/dp/B0000DDVV9
                    – Wolfgang
                    Nov 30 at 14:12

                  • 5

                    “windows on bacon packs” are in my experience strategically abused to show all meat and no fat. There are probably whole departments that design ways to push as much meaty parts into that window. Similar gimmick to “artisan” label.
                    – aaaaaa
                    Nov 29 at 17:52

                  • 3

                    @aaaaaa The windows on the back of commercially packed bacon Is in no way strategically abused.
                    – Cindy
                    Nov 29 at 18:10

                  • 2

                    I’ve certainly seen cases of window to bacon alignment that made it look like a better cut than it really was. I won’t go so far as to say it’s intentional, but it does happen on certain package styles.
                    – JPhi1618
                    Nov 29 at 19:37

                  • 9

                    @aaaaaa Sorry, I didn’t mean it to sound sarcastic. I should have elaborated. What I was aiming at is that in most commercial production the process is automated. And while some of the windows are larger than others, what you can see is just what happens to land there.
                    – Cindy
                    Nov 29 at 20:12

                  • 2

                    In addition to the ovens used at restaurants, many fast food joints cook their bacon in a press, which renders the fat quicker and prevents curling. You can get a similar effect at home using a bacon press like this one: amazon.com/Norpro-8-75-Inch-Bacon-Press-Handle/dp/B0000DDVV9
                    – Wolfgang
                    Nov 30 at 14:12

                  5

                  5

                  “windows on bacon packs” are in my experience strategically abused to show all meat and no fat. There are probably whole departments that design ways to push as much meaty parts into that window. Similar gimmick to “artisan” label.
                  – aaaaaa
                  Nov 29 at 17:52

                  “windows on bacon packs” are in my experience strategically abused to show all meat and no fat. There are probably whole departments that design ways to push as much meaty parts into that window. Similar gimmick to “artisan” label.
                  – aaaaaa
                  Nov 29 at 17:52

                  3

                  3

                  @aaaaaa The windows on the back of commercially packed bacon Is in no way strategically abused.
                  – Cindy
                  Nov 29 at 18:10

                  @aaaaaa The windows on the back of commercially packed bacon Is in no way strategically abused.
                  – Cindy
                  Nov 29 at 18:10

                  2

                  2

                  I’ve certainly seen cases of window to bacon alignment that made it look like a better cut than it really was. I won’t go so far as to say it’s intentional, but it does happen on certain package styles.
                  – JPhi1618
                  Nov 29 at 19:37

                  I’ve certainly seen cases of window to bacon alignment that made it look like a better cut than it really was. I won’t go so far as to say it’s intentional, but it does happen on certain package styles.
                  – JPhi1618
                  Nov 29 at 19:37

                  9

                  9

                  @aaaaaa Sorry, I didn’t mean it to sound sarcastic. I should have elaborated. What I was aiming at is that in most commercial production the process is automated. And while some of the windows are larger than others, what you can see is just what happens to land there.
                  – Cindy
                  Nov 29 at 20:12

                  @aaaaaa Sorry, I didn’t mean it to sound sarcastic. I should have elaborated. What I was aiming at is that in most commercial production the process is automated. And while some of the windows are larger than others, what you can see is just what happens to land there.
                  – Cindy
                  Nov 29 at 20:12

                  2

                  2

                  In addition to the ovens used at restaurants, many fast food joints cook their bacon in a press, which renders the fat quicker and prevents curling. You can get a similar effect at home using a bacon press like this one: amazon.com/Norpro-8-75-Inch-Bacon-Press-Handle/dp/B0000DDVV9
                  – Wolfgang
                  Nov 30 at 14:12

                  In addition to the ovens used at restaurants, many fast food joints cook their bacon in a press, which renders the fat quicker and prevents curling. You can get a similar effect at home using a bacon press like this one: amazon.com/Norpro-8-75-Inch-Bacon-Press-Handle/dp/B0000DDVV9
                  – Wolfgang
                  Nov 30 at 14:12

                  up vote
                  3
                  down vote

                  The bacon you see on tv has been cooked. Once you cook the fatty bacon you can buy, you will see that it is pretty uniformly brown. If you cook it correctly that is, so it’s crisp, and don’t just try to microwave it or something :-)?

                  You’re assuming that fat is bad. In meats at least, it’s the primary vector of flavor. You’re not in any case generally meant to keep ALL the fat thrown off in the cooking process for the rest of the dish. People frequently drain bacon which will be eaten separately on a paper towel on a plate, for instance.

                  So test bacons out, see what level of additives you can stand, personally I prefer mine uncured, not a legal term but usually means nitrate-free. But don’t try to pick by eyeballing the fat content, that’s if anything counter-productive.

                  share|improve this answer

                    up vote
                    3
                    down vote

                    The bacon you see on tv has been cooked. Once you cook the fatty bacon you can buy, you will see that it is pretty uniformly brown. If you cook it correctly that is, so it’s crisp, and don’t just try to microwave it or something :-)?

                    You’re assuming that fat is bad. In meats at least, it’s the primary vector of flavor. You’re not in any case generally meant to keep ALL the fat thrown off in the cooking process for the rest of the dish. People frequently drain bacon which will be eaten separately on a paper towel on a plate, for instance.

                    So test bacons out, see what level of additives you can stand, personally I prefer mine uncured, not a legal term but usually means nitrate-free. But don’t try to pick by eyeballing the fat content, that’s if anything counter-productive.

                    share|improve this answer

                      up vote
                      3
                      down vote

                      up vote
                      3
                      down vote

                      The bacon you see on tv has been cooked. Once you cook the fatty bacon you can buy, you will see that it is pretty uniformly brown. If you cook it correctly that is, so it’s crisp, and don’t just try to microwave it or something :-)?

                      You’re assuming that fat is bad. In meats at least, it’s the primary vector of flavor. You’re not in any case generally meant to keep ALL the fat thrown off in the cooking process for the rest of the dish. People frequently drain bacon which will be eaten separately on a paper towel on a plate, for instance.

                      So test bacons out, see what level of additives you can stand, personally I prefer mine uncured, not a legal term but usually means nitrate-free. But don’t try to pick by eyeballing the fat content, that’s if anything counter-productive.

                      share|improve this answer

                      The bacon you see on tv has been cooked. Once you cook the fatty bacon you can buy, you will see that it is pretty uniformly brown. If you cook it correctly that is, so it’s crisp, and don’t just try to microwave it or something :-)?

                      You’re assuming that fat is bad. In meats at least, it’s the primary vector of flavor. You’re not in any case generally meant to keep ALL the fat thrown off in the cooking process for the rest of the dish. People frequently drain bacon which will be eaten separately on a paper towel on a plate, for instance.

                      So test bacons out, see what level of additives you can stand, personally I prefer mine uncured, not a legal term but usually means nitrate-free. But don’t try to pick by eyeballing the fat content, that’s if anything counter-productive.

                      share|improve this answer

                      share|improve this answer

                      share|improve this answer

                      answered Nov 30 at 19:44

                      George M

                      48917

                      48917

                          up vote
                          1
                          down vote

                          In my experience, ‘center-cut’ bacon tends to have a much higher meat/fat ratio than major brand bacon. It’s also more expensive.

                          share|improve this answer

                            up vote
                            1
                            down vote

                            In my experience, ‘center-cut’ bacon tends to have a much higher meat/fat ratio than major brand bacon. It’s also more expensive.

                            share|improve this answer

                              up vote
                              1
                              down vote

                              up vote
                              1
                              down vote

                              In my experience, ‘center-cut’ bacon tends to have a much higher meat/fat ratio than major brand bacon. It’s also more expensive.

                              share|improve this answer

                              In my experience, ‘center-cut’ bacon tends to have a much higher meat/fat ratio than major brand bacon. It’s also more expensive.

                              share|improve this answer

                              share|improve this answer

                              share|improve this answer

                              answered Nov 29 at 19:22

                              Eric Brown

                              1112

                              1112

                                  up vote
                                  1
                                  down vote

                                  “Irish” Bacon is made from the back of the pig, not the pork belly; it’s much leaner, but hard to find in Minneapolis where I live.

                                  share|improve this answer

                                    up vote
                                    1
                                    down vote

                                    “Irish” Bacon is made from the back of the pig, not the pork belly; it’s much leaner, but hard to find in Minneapolis where I live.

                                    share|improve this answer

                                      up vote
                                      1
                                      down vote

                                      up vote
                                      1
                                      down vote

                                      “Irish” Bacon is made from the back of the pig, not the pork belly; it’s much leaner, but hard to find in Minneapolis where I live.

                                      share|improve this answer

                                      “Irish” Bacon is made from the back of the pig, not the pork belly; it’s much leaner, but hard to find in Minneapolis where I live.

                                      share|improve this answer

                                      share|improve this answer

                                      share|improve this answer

                                      answered Dec 1 at 1:40

                                      Mr Natural

                                      111

                                      111

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