What is Canadian bacon?
Canadian bacon is a pork product. The foods described by the term “Canadian bacon” are very different, depending on where in the world the consumer is. This can sometimes lead to confusion, especially for travelers. In the United States, “Canadian bacon” is a salted and cured meat much like conventional bacon. In much of Canada and Great Britain, however, “Canadian bacon” is an entirely different food, cured and treated in a different way before sale. Availability of the two different types of bacon varies, depending on one’s location.
In flavor, appearance, and texture, Canadian bacon is closer to ham than it is to bacon. The meat is lean, slightly sweet, and juicy. Unlike regular bacon, Canadian bacon does not crisp up in its own fat while it is being cooked. The meat is meant to be served in a soft, juicy stage of cooking, and it will be dry and tasteless if it is allowed to crisp up. It is also usually served in thicker wedges than those used for conventional bacon.
The cured pork product which Americans know as Canadian bacon is usually called back bacon in other parts of the world. It is made from the loin cut, which is in the center of the pig’s back. As a result, the bacon is much leaner than conventional bacon. Back bacon is prepared in the same way as conventional bacon, with a salting and smoking process intended to cure the meat. Slightly more sugar is usually used, lending a sweet quality to Canadian bacon.
This type of Canadian bacon is a popular pizza topping in the United States, especially on Hawaiian pizza with pineapple. It also appears in breakfast foods like omelets, and is sometimes eaten by health conscious consumers who want the flavor of bacon without the heavy fat content. When available, it is usually found with other cured meat products, and is usually sold in chunks which are cut up by the consumer as needed.
Another type of Canadian bacon is also known as peameal bacon. It is also made from the loin, but it is cured in a sweet pickle and it has a crust made from yellow cornmeal or peas. Peameal bacon is sweet and slightly salty. It is usually sold in both cooked and parbaked forms. Make sure to read the label carefully to determine whether or not peameal bacon needs to be cooked before serving. Peameal bacon is eaten with numerous breakfast foods in Canada and parts of the United Kingdom.