& HIGHLY COVETED
Farmer | Bacon producer in Egg near Hermagor
When Albert Jank steps into his smokehouse, then it takes just one look and a few breaths and he knows whether the bacon in process is ready or still needs a little time. “I just see it and you can also smell it“, so the chairman of the Gailtal Valley Bacon Association. But it is only that easy if you have decades of experience. Even as a child he always watched when the bacon was smoked on the farm. The production method is basically still the same. “Although smoking is now more modern and also more environmentally friendly, it is still an old farmer’s method of making bacon“, so Jank.
The secret is time because smoking and airing phases alternate during cold smoking. This process, where the smoke of slowly burning beech wood chippings gives the meat its typical flavour, takes at least three weeks. The beech chippings are earth-moist. After all, they are not supposed to burn but to smoulder slowly. And we add juniper twigs“, says Jank and reveals one of the secrets around the real Gailtal Valley Bacon. Depending on the meat cut used, the bacon is hung for four to twelve weeks after smoking.
Much smoke about bacon: This authentic and lengthy process, giving the Gailtal Valley Bacon its distinctive character, is still fascinating today.
The bacon loses as big part of its weight during the process but it gains its unique characteristics. “Every producer adds his own touch but the Gailtal Valley Bacon is always mild and the snow-white fat melts on the tongue“, so Jank. This EU protected product is produced according to strict quality criteria. The seal – a green one for farmer’s products, a red one for butcher’s products – is only awarded if the pig was born and reared in the region and has been processed here.