Bacon & the Art of Living

Bacon & the Art of Living 1

The Story

The story of the development of bacon curing technology merged with the present-day account of friends setting up a bacon plant in Cape Town. I decided to use selected events from the story of our bacon company, re-cast them in the late 1800s and early 1900s and tell the story of the creation of bacon.

The historical setting is the time when modern meat curing was born in Denmark, England, Germany, and the USA. It is also the time when the South African meat industry came of age under the leadership of David de Villiers-Graaff. Besides these, the culture at the Cape, as it is today, was fascinating. Life was vibrant and political currents, foundational to understand present-day South Africa.

Every effort has been made to ensure that all references to people and events from the 1800s, 1900s, and 2000s are actual and historically accurate. Any misrepresentation is my own fault and will be rectified if such errors are pointed out. Please mail me with factual errors at

It will be presented to an editor to work through it and guide me to craft it into a more readable format. I am currently re-writing this one last time in its entirety. For the sake of collaboration, I keep other chapters “published.” The input I received thus far has been astounding from people around the world!

Chapter 12.3: Finally, is the last chapter to be written but this can only be done from a very special location in the far western regions of China for reasons which will become obvious as you read the work.  The other chapter still being completed is chapter 16 where I am featuring family photos.

My sincere thanks to each and every one of you!

Eben van Tonder
Cape Town




Chapter 1: Once Upon a Time in Africa

From Heller, B, & Co, Chicago, old catalog, 1922.

Chapter 2: Dry Cured Bacon


Chapter 3: Kolbroek


Chapter 4: The Shambles

Oom Piet Rademan at his horse buggy which he rode till his death at 99.

Chapter 5: Seeds of War

Crossing the Vaal River, c 1890

Chapter 6: The Greatest Adventure


Chapter 7: Woodys Bacon

eben-oscar-jeppe BW
Eben, Oscar, and Jeppe

Chapter 8.00: The Denmark Letters

-> Chapter 8.01 Mild Cured Bacon

-> Chapter 8.02 The Danish Cooperative and Saltpeter

-> Chapter 8.03 Minette, the Cape Slaves, the Witels and Nitrogen

-> Chapter 8.04 The Saltpeter Letter

-> Chapter 8.05 The Polenski Letter

-> Chapter 8.06 From the Sea to Turpan

-> Chapter 8.07 Lauren Learns the Nitrogen Cycle

-> Chapter 8.08 Von Liebig and Gerard Mulder’s Theory of Proteins

-> Chapter 8.09 David Graaff’s Armour – A Tale of Two Legends

River Thames, 1895

Chapter 9.00: The UK Letters

-> Chapter 9.01: Lord Landsdown

-> Chapter 9.02: Sweet Cured Irish and Wiltshire Pork

-> Chapter 9.03: American Icehouses for England: Year-round Curing

-> Chapter 9.04: Ice Cold in Africa

-> Chapter 9.05: Ice Cold Revolution

-> Chapter 9.06: Harris Bacon – the Gold Standard!

-> Chapter 9.07: John Harris Reciprocates!

-> Chapter 9.08: Irish Animosity

-> Chapter 9.09: The Wiltshire Cut

-> Chapter 9.10 Engaged to be Married

-> Chapter 9.11 The Salt of the Earth

-> Chapter 9.12 The Salt of the Sea

-> Chapter 9.13 The Salt of Meat

-> Chapter 9.14 Dublin and the Injection of Meat

-> Chapter 09.15 The English Pig with links to the Kolbroek and Kunekune


Chapter 10.00: Letters from New Zealand

-> Chapter 10.01: Our Manuka Bay Wedding!

-> Chapter 10.02: C & T Harris in New Zealand and other amazing tales


Chapter 11.00: The Union Letters

-> Chapter 11.01: The Fathers of Meat Curing

-> Chapter 11.02: Fresh Meat Colour vs Cooked Cured Colour

-> Chapter 11.03: The Direct Addition of Nitrites to Curing Brines – the Master Butcher from Prague

-> Chapter 11.04: The Direct Addition of Nitrites to Curing Brines – The Spoils of War

-> Chapter 11.05: The Preserving Power of Nitrite

-> Chapter 11.06: Regulations of Nitrate and Nitrite post-1920’s: the problem of residual nitrite

-> Chapter 11.07: The Discovery of Ascorbate

-> Chapter 11.08: Erythorbate

-> Chapter 11.09: The Curing Reaction

-> Chapter 11.10: Meat Curing – A Review

Chapter 12.00: The Best Bacon on Earth

-> Chapter 12.01: The Castlemaine Bacon Company

-> Chapter 12.02: Eskort Ltd.

-> Chapter 12.03: Finally

Chapter 13.00: Woodys Photos

Chapter 14.00: Tristan Photos

Chapter 15.00: Lauren Photos

Chapter 16.00: Family Photos

Chapter 17.00: The Boers (Our Lives and Wars)



(c) eben van tonder

Bacon & the Art of Living” in book form
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