As a Canadian—and a winter camper—I can’t praise bacon enough. Just the smell of it cooking over a fire releases a sense of warmth and comfort like no other. Why does it give us frosty campers so much joy? It’s the fat.
We need fat—or other types of protein—to stay warm. That’s why your body craves it so much while winter camping. It might not be the best thing to consume every day back home, but when the temperature drops and you need to fire-up your inner furnace, your doctor may even approve of a daily bacon intake.
There are three general types of bacon, something I like to call the “three little pigs.” Most Americans know bacon as “the cured belly of a swine carcass.” It’s the standard type you see at the grocery store, which is a combination of meat and fat from the belly of a pig.
Canadian bacon is known as peameal bacon and it is usually meat cut from the back of the boneless loin. The peameal was originally dried yellow peas that were ground up and coated on the outside of the meat to help preserve it. Later corneal was used because it was more common, but the “peameal” name stuck.
If you buy bacon in England, Scotland and Ireland you’ll get the cut from the loin back of the pig. It’s similar to Canadian bacon but comes in strips like the American bacon. It’s also smoked or cured. Canadian bacon isn’t. Its also know as “streaky” bacon due to the merging of meat and fat.
Bacon comes in a slab or ready-sliced thin, thick or extra thick. It also comes in pre-cooked bacon (perfect for summer camping trips but not necessary for winter). You can get it crumbled or chopped—but never buy imitation bacon bits. They are not a proper substitute for real bacon and just not necessary.
Whatever the type of bacon, it’s all good if you smoke, boil, fry, bake or grill it. Here is one of my favourite recipes I’ve created while winter camping.
Pemmican was the main food source that got the Voyageurs going every day. Basically, it was lard with a bunch of other things (blueberries, currents, raisins) thrown in for taste. I’ve made my own concoction out of bacon grease and I have to say—it’s yummy when the temperature drops below -20 degrees Celsius.
- Rendered bacon fat
- Dried cranberries
- Hot cereal
- Canadian maple syrup
At home, cook the bacon and add dried cranberries, let it cool and sit until hard and then place it in a zip-lock bag. When camping, cook the hot cereal and spread the pemmican on the flatbread. Top the pemmican-flatbread combo with hot cereal, then spread on a layer of maple syrup. Delicious!