Can I infuse vinegar with cooked bacon?
January 19, 2010 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Can I infuse vinegar with cooked bacon?

I have a lot of bacon that I'm trying to put to good use before it goes bad or I get completely sick of it, whichever comes first. I also occasionally like to make hot sauce. So, in an attempt to make these two worlds collide, I want to make a bacon-based hot sauce.

I've seen several articles about infusing vodka with bacon, but never vinegar. My idea was to infuse standard white distilled vinegar with a dozen strips of cooked bacon. Let it sit in the fridge for a week, then take it out, and strain the liquid and use it as a base for the hot sauce, to which I would add hot peppers, garlic, maybe a little onion, and then blend the crap out of it.

Does this sound sane? Potentially dangerous? The bacon has been cooked, and has been sitting in a dark, refrigerated area, in a clean capped bottle, and submerged in vinegar with a healthy amount of salt. Are the odds good that this will somehow grow undesirable things / posion my guts out, or is the salt - vinegar - cooked combo more than enough to ward the evils of food poisoning away?
posted by ehamiter to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
With that much bacon, what have you got to lose? I don't think you need worry about bacon and vinegar spawning anything dangerous.
posted by InsanePenguin at 8:37 AM on January 19, 2010

It will be fine- stick it in the refrigerator and enjoy. You are basically pickling the bacon, without all the pickling spices. If you are really worried, stick it in the freezer.

Though, a dozen pieces of bacon is a massive amount of flavor, unless you are doing 2 quarts of vinegar.
posted by TheBones at 8:38 AM on January 19, 2010

I don't think it's dangerous, but I also don't think it will work. The idea with the vodka (or the much nicer sounding bourbon!) is that the alcohol will dissolve some of the fat from the bacon. I think you'll just end up with salad dressing as the fat and vinegar won't really mix.
posted by ecurtz at 9:43 AM on January 19, 2010

It shouldn't be terribly unsafe, but it may not get you what you want.

Vinegar is mostly water with a bit of acetic acid. Both are very polar solvents. Organic molecules, unless very polar, aren't very soluble in either. You'll extract lots of salt, the nitrates/nitrites and at least some of the Maillard-reaction components. Unfortunately, the bacony flavours are mostly fat soluble---I doubt that they will extract well into vinegar solution. Alcohol works better because ethanol/water is a much better solvent for the flavour compounds that vinegar. I suspect what you'll end up with is a very salty, lightly smokey solution.

Sill, I could be wrong. It's worth a try.
posted by bonehead at 9:44 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

This will work fine (i might try it myself, even). The salt+vinegar will definitely keep you safe.

However, the real essence of the bacon flavor is from the drippings, not the meat itself. If you want to incorporate bacon flavor into your BBQ sauce, i'd suggest sauteeing the onions, garlic, and hot peppers in bacon grease, then putting the whole thing into the blender. The pureƩ of vegetables will act as an emulsifier and keep the bacon drippings suspended in the sauce.

This also provides the added advantage of letting you eat the bacon now.
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:49 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

It is an interesting idea, but as bonehead and other have pointed out it probably wont work, and I feel pretty confident in saying that even if it did, it would be super gross.

I would suggest that you look up a bunch of weird bacon recipes and just try whatever jumps out at you.
posted by BobbyDigital at 9:54 AM on January 19, 2010

A better approach might be to have a moderately alcoholic bbq sauce. Make the vodka-infused bacon then evaporate it.

Step 1), Infuse the vodka, capped, for what ever time you think appropriate. Do this in the dark if at all possible. I'd think a time span of at least a couple of weeks would be necessary, possibly longer.

Step 2) Filter. Coffee filters would be great for this. Wash the filter with a bit of vodka for better transfer.

Step 3) Air evaporate the solution. The blog post here suggests that if you leave a 30% (60 proof) vodka uncorked for a week, the alcohol percentage will be halved, but also, that it's tough to get it below 10% or so. This is reasonable; cough syrup is sold this way and it's stable on the shelf. Two to three weeks should do the trick.

Note that you'll probably get a lot of stuff falling out of solution in step 3. That's ok! You're going to re-emulsify everything in the final step anyway, so all that flavour will mix back in. Your end result will probably have an alcohol content of 5-8%. Unless you drink the sauce like beer, I doubt most people would mind, though the alcohol smell will be noticeable.
posted by bonehead at 9:57 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I collect drippings when I smoke brisket. Even when I remove the fat, the drippings have a lot of smokey flavor. Similarly, commercial "liquid smoke" is water-based, not fat based. So, I don't think you necessarily need the fat to get that aspect of the bacon flavor into your vinegar. On the other hand, pork fat is delicious.

I'd start with your original plan of doing a bacon infusion of the vinegar and see how that goes.
posted by Good Brain at 10:22 AM on January 19, 2010

So it seems that it should be safe but may potentially be non-bacony flavored and at-risk for non-tasty status. That will work for me. I'll let it keep in the fridge for a few more days and then try it out.

Cooking other items in bacon grease would be most delicious and bacon-y, but the problem with having a high amount of bacon fat in a liquidy sauce is when you put it back in the fridge, it settles, leaving you with an inch of thick gray goop at the bottom of the bottle, which I don't want.

I was considering doing a vodka-infusion (like some spaghetti sauces have) but wanted to see what would happen if I jumped straight to the vinegar. I guess we'll find out. Even if it doesn't resemble a bacon taste in the slightest, and I just end up with a salty smokey vinegar, that would be awesome. I'll grill up some serrano peppers, onions and garlic, blend them all together with the baconegar (or vinecon, if you prefer), and everyone wins.
posted by ehamiter at 10:23 AM on January 19, 2010

One additional thought: capsicum is also pretty soluble in alcohol. Bacon-chili infused vodka might not be a bad idea either.... hmmm....
posted by bonehead at 10:25 AM on January 19, 2010

Even when I remove the fat, the drippings have a lot of smokey flavor.

There's another thought---deglaze the bacon pan with the vinegar or vodka befire you start the infusion.
posted by bonehead at 10:28 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Plus if you infuse vodka with the bacon, you can always have meaty maries, bloody mary with infused vodka- mmmm, bacon.
posted by TheBones at 12:16 PM on January 19, 2010

« Older About a bitch   |   Help me start my letterpress printing business Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.