In Kentucky, curing bacon and hams has been a necessity of life for generations. In more recent years, this tradition has been in retreat. Some blame onerous government regulations. Others see urbanization as the culprit. Others still ponder our region’s evolving food habits. There remain, however, a select few artisans who cling faithfully to family traditions. By way of generations-old recipes, hands-on expertise, and time-sweet-time, a small number of folks are still doing things the old fashioned way. As a means of survival, these purveyors of bacon, whose families once cured by necessity, are now catering to gourmands and chefs who appreciate both the effort invested and the end result. They are carrying forth the tradition.

The project that follows, documents the lives of these artisans and, hopefully, complicates Peter Kaminsky’s observation, in his book Pig Perfect, that, “Soon the old masters will be gone and, like students of a dead language, we will have to reacquire their knowledge all over again.” Let us read the stories that follow and revel in the marriage of pork and salt and time.

TAGS: Kentucky, pork, cured meat, rural South, Kentucky Bacon, Charles Gatton Jr.- Gatton Farms, Col. Bill Newsom's Aged Kentucky Country Ham, Leslie and June Scott- Scott's Country Hams, Lorene Gatton-Gatton Farms, Rodman Meacham- Meacham Country Hams, Ronny and Beth Drennan-Broadbent Country Hams, William Meacham- Meacham Country Hams