Bacon Curing Systems: From Antiquity till now

Bacon Curing Systems: From antiquity till now.
Eben van Tonder
18 June 2021


In the development of bacon curing technology, four iconic curing methods stand between the old dry-cured system and the modern system of the direct addition of nitrites to curing brines and the latest development which is Grid bacon. In my book on the history of bacon curing technology, Bacon & the Art of Living, the following chapters are dedicated to these different systems of curing. In my book, I presented the story in narrative form. This style may be annoying to some but it proved to a very useful investigative technique as it forced me to think through every process in the 1st person and allowed me to see relationships between seemingly unconnected bits of technology in a completely new and holistic way. By, as it were, “living in the moment,” I gained insights I would never have seen if I simply reported the features of each system separately.

Bacon by Robert Goodrich. A man who inspires me more than he can imagine!

The Progression of Curing Systems

Here are different chapters that deal with the various stages in the progression of curing systems.

– Dry Cured Bacon

The bacon curing system existed for hundreds of years and included only dry ingredients and later dry ingredients with wet brine added.

Chapter 02: Dry Cured Bacon

– Mild Cured Bacon

Invented by William Oake in Northern Ireland some time before 1837.

Chapter 09.01 – Mild Cured Bacon

– Sweet Cured Bacon

Invented by Harris in Calne, early in the 1840s.

Chapter 10.02 – Sweet Cured Harris Bacon

– Pale Dried Bacon and Wiltshire Curing or Tank Cured Bacon

Pale dried bacon was invented under John Harris in Calne in the 1890s. Wiltshire bacon curing or Tank curing was invented in Calne in the closing years of the 1800s or early 1900s.

Chapter 10.06.00: Harris Bacon – From Pale Dried to Tank Curing!

– Auto Curing and Tank Curing

Auto curing was invented by William Harwood Oake, the son of William Oake from Limerick in Ireland who invented mild curing. William Harwood Oake brought mild curing to England when he opened a curing operation with two partners in Gillingham, Dorset. He invented auto curing which is a progression on mild curing. Tank curing undoubtedly developed from this same factory and it was probably independently incorporated into the Harris operation when they got the technology from Denmark.

Chapter 10.06.01 Oake Woods & Co Ltd and their Auto Cured Bacon

– The Direct addition of Nitrite

Ladislav NACHMÜLLNER invented the first curing brine legally sold containing sodium nitrites in 1915 in Prague. The system was made popular around the globe by the Griffiths Laboratories. The direct addition of nitrites to curing Brines is covered in two chapters namely:

– Grid Bacon

A system pioneered in Germany in the early 2000s. This final article of interest is not part of Bacon & the Art of Living, but it fits here because it represents the latest thinking about the most modern curing system.

Best Bacon and Rib System on Earth

The Story of Bacon

The plotline takes place in the 2000s with each character referring to a real person and actual events. The theme is a kind of “steampunk” where modern mannerisms, speech, clothes and practices are superimposed on a historical setting. The characters are modern people, most of whom are based on real people and they interact with old historical figures with all the historical and cultural bias that goes with this. As the title indicates, it is far more than only the history of bacon as it relates these events to a personal quest to find purpose in life through the pursuit of bacon. In the process family, friends and concepts such as nationalism and faith are examined in a way relevant to the pursuit of excellence.

The index page to Bacon & the Art of Living: Bacon & the Art of Living

“Canadian Bacon” by Kevin Clees. A master at the art and a true inspiration!

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Any contributions or comments can be directed to me at:

Phone Number and Whatsapp: +27 71 545 3029
Cape Town
South Africa

The complete history of bacon.

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