Peameal Bacon, Back Bacon or Canadian Bacon, It’s All Good Eats

peamealWe have been doing Peameal Bacon for years because it’s such a great product, but it is  not quite Canadian Bacon.

What is the difference between Peameal Bacon and Canadian Bacon?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is a huge difference! While both are made from the pork loin (hence the reference to ‘back’ bacon), and they start out the same- as a cured loin either dry cured or brined- the difference ends there. Canadian “Back” Bacon is a smoked, cured loin without the “peameal coating” and is as diverse across the world as pizza.

Peameal Bacon is relatively localized to Canada and more specifically, to Southern Ontario. Ireland has something similar but it is not the same. Peameal was a WWll developed product to extend the life of porka sent to our troops stationed overseas.  After the war, it found a home back in Canada. While we locally interchange the names Back Bacon and Peameal Bacon, we almost never refer it to Canadian Bacon. At one time, I thought you would be nuts to smoke it, as you would be destroying the very delicate flavours we all enjoy from the brining process, but peameal bacon is loved and is as region-centric as our local hockey teams and BBQ preferences. I have had more ‘back bacon on a bun’ sandwiches at fairs and festivals than you can shake a (hockey) stick at; in Southwestern Ontario, it’s right up there with hamburgers and hot dogs as a staple at the market.

The first step to making peameal is to take the cured loin and roll it in yellow crushed peas.  Nowadays, corn meal is used, giving it that distinctive yellow look. This must still be cooked, and is usually pan fried and served with breakfast or on a bun. However it can be steamed, baked, roasted and even shaved. As far as I am concerned, the way to go is either sliced and grilled or pan fried and served on a plate for breakfast (or griddle fried and served on a bun). Peameal Bacon – it is all about the brine.

FRESH PORK LOINS are required, you can not brine something that is already seasoned with 20% salt water.

Let’s make some bacon…..


Sweet BrineBasic Sweet Brine for One Gallon

  • 1 Gallon of Water
  • 1 cup Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Dark Brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Cure #1 (pink salt)

From here you would customize it to your taste (alternatively you can use about 5 tbsp of pickling spice)

  • 1 tbsp all spice
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries
  • 1 tbsp mustard seed
  • 1 tbsp whole coriander seed
  • 1 tbsp whole pepper
  • 1 tbsp whole clove
  • 5 whole bay leaves

All of this into a large stock pot and bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and sugar. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes and chill.  DO NOT put your loins into a hot brine (it will ‘draw’ in the brine at too fast a rate, not to mention that this is just not safe from a safe food handling standpoint).

Once the brine is cool (35-38°F)  place the loin in the liquid so it covers completely, then refrigeration for at least 5 days, but no longer than 8, depending on the size of the loins, however, I find 7 days does the trick. You may need to use a non-reactive plate or bowl to hold the loin under the brining liquid; it will want to float if you don’t. Take out the loin and rinse it well under cold water. This will remove the excess salt. Let it dry a bit, and then roll in fine corn meal for as much as they can take.  Slice, cook, and enjoy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACheers from the Big Dog 

Originally posted on by Big Dog at 6/7/2009 10:18 AM



Mike Callaghan
Mike Callaghan is the Team Canada BBQ Director, a Pitmaster on his own team The Black Pig BBQ Mike provided his leadership, skills and experience for the team and their international program

One Response to “Peameal Bacon, Back Bacon or Canadian Bacon, It’s All Good Eats

  • Mike Hutch
    3 years ago

    Living in Roseville, Ca, outside of Sacramento, we still long for this being originally from Buffalo. I have a recipe but have not tried it yet but will be doing so this month. Can’t wait.

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