It wasn’t that many generations ago that people made their own bacon through a dry-cure method that was brought over from Europe.
But, when big food companies started getting into the act, they developed a process of injecting salt and sugar into the meat, said Bill Strimbu Jr. While the meat cured more quickly, it also changed the flavor of the resulting bacon. Because anything injected had to dissolve in water, it limited the kind of seasoning that could be used, he said.
“People don’t even realize they’re getting a dumbed down process of what everybody used to use before,” he said.
Strimbu is hoping people will develop a taste for the way things used to be. He is opening a storefront for Black Sheep Bacon Co. on May 8 at 7140 Warren Sharon Road, the building that used to be a Dairy Queen and then Dairy Oasis.
“I wanted to put this in Brookfield, because Brookfield deserves some options,” he said. “I thought it would be nice to have something that was representative of our area and what people’s families did a couple of generations ago.”
He said he doesn’t like to see people from the area open stores in Howland or Hermitage.
“They’re leaving their roots behind,” Strimbu said. “I think that there are a lot of people that would love to see Brookfield the way it was 30 years ago.”
Strimbu’s curing process takes twice as long as the injection method, but it concentrates the flavor and allows a wider variety of herbs and spices to be used, he said. He smokes the meat with hickory wood cut from the family farm, and not sawdust or artificial smoke, as some bacon makers do.
Strimbu said he has always liked to cook and decided to open a storefront after the response his family and friends gave him to his smoked meats.
“Hey, this is a marketable thing,” he said they told him. “People have been asking when I’m gonna have my bacon available. The response has been higher than anticipated.”
Initially, Black Sheep Bacon will sell what Strimbu called its flagship product, thick-sliced hickory smoked bacon, selling for $12 a pound. He also plans to sell trays of pulled pork, take advance orders for parties and events, and offer event catering.
Customer requests could lead him to expand his product line, Strimbu said.
“We’ll have bacon all the time,” he said.
Initial store hours will be 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, but Strimbu will be available by phone “anytime,” and will accept orders online at blacksheepbacon.com
He also is planning to sell corporate gift boxes at the holidays.
Contact him at 330-507-4817 or firstname.lastname@example.org