The most significant difference is preparing one from pork belly and the other from pork loin.
This is because bacon made from pork loin is much leaner than pork belly.
Yet, once you cure them, the flavor is almost indistinguishable when served green. English and American bacon curing methods are similar.
So, the curing process is not their most considerable distinction.
A producer of American bacon will often smoke their bacon. However, some grocers offer green bacon also. Not everyone enjoys the flavor of smoked bacon.
Continue reading for more information about the difference between “English” and “American” bacon.
What’s the difference between “English” & “American” bacon?
The most significant difference between “English” and “American” bacon is the cut of meat used to make it. Butchers make English bacon from pork loin, which is very lean. Butchers who make American bacon make it from pork belly. Another difference is the way they cut the meat. Americans slice their bacon thin and cook it crispy. Butchers cut English bacon into thick slices that are thicker and chewier. A portion of English bacon resembles a slice of pork tenderloin or a piece of ham. The English call it a rasher, not a slice.
What cut of meat is “English” bacon?
Butchers make English bacon from pork loin, which comes from the back of a pig. It is a very lean cut of meat and has very little fat.
It is the same piece of meat from which you would cut a loin roast. English bacon is cured before slicing into “rashers” for cooking.
Those visiting the United States from Britain often have difficulty finding bacon that they find suitable.
Due to USDA regulations, bacon cannot come from the tenderloin of a pig. Sliced pork tenderloin is easy to find, as are smoked pork chops. Yet, green pork can be challenging to find.
American bacon must be made from “the cured belly of swine.” So, butchers and those who cure meat have found their way around this rule.
By creating different pork products, some of which are equal to English bacon, they have provided English visitors to America with the bacon they love.
What cut of meat is “American” bacon?
American bacon is made only from pork belly. It is not as lean as pork loin and has a streak of fat that runs through it.
The fat imparts a different flavor than leaner bacon. Since it is sliced into thin strips, the fat can cook to a crisp too, if you want.
Pork belly has a different shape than pork loin.
The shape is what defines that of American bacon. Also, most American bacon is cured then smoked.
The smoke imparts a distinctive flavor to the bacon.
Bacon producers use different types of wood to derive different flavors when smoking bacon. For example, woods like maple, Applewood, and hickory impart distinct flavors, lacking in English bacon.
Are both kinds of bacon cured the same?
Curing is what makes bacon, well, bacon. Both English and American bacon get cured. However, American bacon is often smoked. English bacon is left green.
After bacon is cured, it is called green bacon and is ready to eat. It can be sliced and cooked at this point, whether English or American bacon.
Many butchers and grocers offer green bacon to patrons who do not like most American bacon’s smoky flavor.
Green bacon made from either pork loin or pork belly is smoked after reaching its green stage. Although smoked pork loin cannot be called bacon, it can certainly be sold as smoked pork loin.
How is bacon cured?
The two types of bacon curing methods are wet and dry, with wet curing being the more common of the two.
Like green and smoked pork, the curing used for pork loin or pork belly will impart a particular flavor.
Wet curing means the seasoning and salt for curing are added to water. Then, the meat is immersed in salty, seasoned water and left for a while.
This type of curing is also called brining and is a tried and true method of preserving meat.
Wet curing helps the meat retain its moisture, whether smoked or not. There are only two types of curing. However, there are thousands of variations.
The seasonings, kind of salt, and length of cure play a part in pork that is wet cured.
When making dry-cured pork, the pork loin or belly is rubbed with a mixture of salt and seasonings.
The meat is then left in a cool, dark place for a time, determined by the size of the piece of meat.
An example of dry-cured meat, the oldest method of curing meat, is prosciutto, salami, and other charcuterie meats.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Difference Between “English” & “American” Bacon
Is all American bacon smoked?
Some butchers and grocers carry green American bacon. However, it doesn’t have as robust a flavor as smoked bacon.
Why does English bacon look so different than American bacon?
English bacon is made from pork loin, which is different from pork belly. The shape of the loin determines the shape of each bacon rasher.
The difference between “English” and “American” bacon is the cut of meat.
Bacon from both countries is made from pork; otherwise, the result wouldn’t be bacon.
But, the most significant difference between English and American bacon is that one is made from pork belly.
In contrast, the other is made from the loin.
Other than this very distinguishing difference, they both fry up nicely for breakfast and can be used to season other foods.
The smokiness of American bacon is a distinct flavor.
But, compared to the leanness of English bacon, it’s quite the toss-up, and they both have their place at the table.