Zane Trace Food Science Students “Bring Home the Bacon”

Submitted by the Zane Trace FFA Chapter on March 18, 2017

What started as a suggestion from a senior student during the Zane Trace FFA’s annual sausage breakfast culminated in the smoking of nearly 20 pounds of bacon last week by students in the program’s food science courses.  Senior Hunter Brower wondered aloud if the chapter could make bacon to go with the nearly 500 pounds of sausage they prepared for the breakfast. Food Science instructor Jennifer Johnston commented that her father, Larry Moore, had made bacon for his 4-H projects as a member in West Virginia and that he might be able to help them with the process of making their own. The food science students purchased four pork sides from Just Meats in Chillicothe and began the process of curing them on Feburary 21st.  Over the next three weeks the students monitored the meat to ensure that it was curing properly and staying at the proper temperature. During this time they learned how the chemicals in the cure react with the components of the meat over time to dry and preserve it.

On March 14th the bacons were rinsed, trimmed and hung to dry in a smoker that students had built from an old filing cabinet.  Mr. Moore visited the school on the 14th and 15th to help guide students in their work and to show them the proper way to start the hickory wood fire and monitor the temperature of the smoker.  Throughout the day on March 15th students took turns making sure the internal temperature of the smoker stayed between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. After six hours of smoking, the bacons were ready to cool. Students sliced and fried their first pieces on March 16th and received rave reviews from ZT staff members and students who tried it. The project was such a success that students hope to cure additional bacons in the coming weeks.  The food science students wish to thank Mr. Moore, Just Meats and the staff at Zane Trace High School for allowing them to conduct such a hands-on project as part of their class and lab activities in food science.

Top Picture: The four smoked bacons that were made by students in the Zane Trace Food Science program.

Bottom Picture: Larry Moore demonstrates the function of a meat smoker to freshman students in Zane Trace’s ag program. The smoker was made by food science students to smoke four bacons that they had cured as part of their class and lab activities.