Tuesday, 27 January 2009

A postscript on the subject of Boks bacon

I received the comment below from Marcus Boks in the wee small hours of this morning, and feel it should be posted here.

The Pigs Mouth has left a new comment on your post "Rita's getting boring and repetitive":

Boks Bacon straight from the pigs mouth. Hi everyone, just thought I'd give you the facts about Boks Bacon. Firstly, I was approached to supply Coles, however I decided this was not the right direction for Boks Bacon. All my 250g retail packs of bacon are still 100% dry cured, and, the dry cured is still available to buy as 1kg packs. Since about July '08 I've been making a pumped bacon. This bacon is produced as a 1kg pack solely for the food service industry. It does have a little more water release whilst cooking. It has what I think is still a similar taste to the traditional bacon with a mix of the ham flavour due to the brine being the same as I use for making my Xmas hams.

Making bacon with the traditionally cured dry salt method decreases the weight of a boneless pork middle by around 20%. Hence the more expensive price. By pumping a pork middle I can actually come out with the original weight of the fresh middle. Most other bacon producers come out with a 20-45% increase on theirs (the cheaper the bacon the more water pumped into it). I was trying to make a bacon more competitively priced to further sales in the food service market, as I have found most restaurants love the bacon but don't want to pay for it.

There's still a few around who've stuck with me no matter the price, for instance Steve at the Red Velvet Lounge in Cygnet. I had a chat with him about the pumped bacon early on and he advised me it may not be a good idea, but it was a matter of needing to get more volume out the door than what the 250g packs were getting for me (I too have a family to support and bills to pay). It was never my intention for the pumped bacon to be sold as retail, unfortunately I lose track of where it goes after I send it to my distributors. It could be that delis are opening the 1kg pumped bacon and selling it by the rasher, which again was not my intention.

Please, I would love your feedback on the type of bacon people have not been happy with and how it was packaged. As for the comments about my 'adviser', I'd like people to know that Sean is employed as my Sales and Marketing manager and he does a bloody good job of doing it. He has acquired many new customers for Boks Bacon both on the mainland and in Tassie. With his wealth of knowledge as a chef he has many great suggestions and recipes for Boks to utilize. I discussed with Sean the pros and cons of producing the pumped bacon, but the final decision was made by myself as are all decisions about Boks Bacon. So, I feel the negative comments made about him are unfounded. Thanks for reading, and like I said please send me your comments so I can try to fix any problems before I get around to finding out about them on blogs.

Marcus Boks
Boks Bacon
Posted by The Pigs Mouth to Hobart Food for thought at January 27, 2009 2:47 AM

Marcus - I thank you so much for your comment and plain and honest explanation, and invite anyone who would like comment further on this subject to do so.
Posted on by Rita


Anonymous said...

one thing was missing in that explanation and it's the most important factor in great bacon.....pork quality! you dry salt and brine until the cows come home,but it's in vain unless the quality of the pork is of the best kind. fat structure is key to retention of saline solutions and salt extraction from the tissues and fibre and commercial pigs don't have the time or the care inparted ever develop the correct combination of both. marcus your recipe is lovely,but your pork quality has fallen. it's easy tp remedy and remember good food costs more. people will buy it if it's good, especially if it stands out from the rest and once that status has been reached, a backlash will follow if the standards slip. i think that's where we are at right now.

as for sean, some might say he has the gift of the gab, but is that really a skill?

Anonymous said...

its the 250g packs that are watery so i agree with rita thats why i dont buy boks bacon any more.also worked with sean and if anyone in hobart has the gift of the gab he has. i wouldnt trust that guy as far as i could kick him.

sir grumpy said...

I haven't had Bok's in a while, so will go out and get some to see for myself. I do buy Castlemaine Free Range too and that is fine but not as good as I know Bok's can be.
Often now when I can't source either of the above, I just fry up some good ham (lots of it and nice and crispy) to have with me local, free-range eggs on Sunday (or any other time I fancy). With, of course, Huon mushrooms, fried tomatoes and toast made from the Renalagh man's bread. Lashing of organic tassie butter on that too.
Washed down with a double strength cuppa of Madura Assam tea, with a splash of Real Milk.
Some of the toast gets a heap of apricot jam from Dorothy's little place locally. (Not Texas).
We are lucky, us Tasmanians.

The Pigs Mouth said...

Hi Rita and all of the other people who have contributed to this blog. I certainly seem to have galvanised opinion from people who hide behind the veil of anonymity!
The production of commercially viable quantities of smallgoods in then transition from artisan smallscale producer to larger scale production is a rocky road, paved with many speedhumps. The days of Cygnet butchery making 30kgs of bacon per week for a local market, to Boks now producing a range of products that is closer to a tonne a week and complies with all the relevant regulations involved in smallgoods production is a huge journey. The expense involved in complience is huge, and one that few would understand if they weren't doing it. It is easy to make a few kilo's of ham and bacon but larger scale production requires labelling and packaging expenses that meet regulations, 1000's of dollars in lab testing each product for shelf life, HACCP accreditation and the list goes on. Coupled with the capital aquisition of specialised equipment to slice dry cured bacon and you may have a clearer picture of what is involved in producing smallgoods.
I have been involved in the Boks Bacon business for nearly 2 years, during which time we have won 11 medals in Fine Food Awards and done our utmost to promote fine Tassie made produce.
As to the quality of our pork, I have just returned from the mainland where I visited Gooralie to see first hand their free range farm, and to see the processing of their product at KR's abattior in Toowomba. A testament to the Ladner families dedication to skilled farming is their operation, which is one of only 2 RSPCA accredited freerange piggeries in Australia. They produce 200 plus 60-65 kg pigs per week which meet a consistant specification, and which are processed in a state of the art plant. We would love to be only using a Tasmanian pig, but we now use so much pork that we have rapidly outgrown the local supply that meets our quality criteria. If anonymous can supply me with 200 pork middle loins of 6-7kg, with 12mm backfat per week I will gladly buy them, and as for the fat structure I feel that Marcus with his 20 years of butchery experience knows good pork when he sees it. The marketplace is looking for pork products that have a certain ratio of lean meat, fat is not seen by the majority of the buying public as a desirable assett.
At the start of each day when I get to work at 5.30am to make bacon I absolutely dedicate myself to the process of making the best product that I can for my employer and the customers that buy our product. There are many things that affect the quality of refridgerated products, mostly that they are kept at the right temperature, something that we don't have any control over once the product leaves our premises.
In finishing I would like to say that Sales and Marketing involve the knowledge and promotion of a product, if this is "the gift of the gab" so be it, I make no bones about my passion for Boks Bacon. As to the personal stuff said about me, well anonymous you are the brave one!
Sean Dunn.

rockoyster said...

Well I finally tried some for myself. Bought a 250g pack each of the traditional wood-fire smoked and the Leatherwood honey cured varieties.

Had the leatherwood for brekkie and it tasted pretty damn good to me despite being described on Bok's website as being a favourite with ladies.

Can't wait to try the "real man's bacon" next.

After my first try I can only say "I like Bok's" but oh dear, oh dear, Sean - that website! Nobody does scrolling marquees anymore. And the color scheme - it's enough to put a bloke off his brekkie.

rockoyster said...

Can anyone identify this dish? It features on just about every page on the Bok's Bacon website. A pork chop perhaps? It must bear some relationship to bacon.

(Note: Bok's employees are ineligible to enter this competition)

Christina said...

Hi Rock Oyster,
I thought it looked more like a duck leg than anything and after scrolling through the recipes have decided thats what it is. There is a recipe there for confit duck leg and I reckon this could be it.
Took me a couple of looks though.

earmuffs said...

Blah blah blah the bacons still not the same!