Saltsmith began like so many other businesses nowadays: as a side hustle. Co-founder Simon Lawry was working as a design consultant, and found himself missing the tools, missing creating things.
“I was looking for a hobby and I picked up a book [about charcuterie] in Trentham from Phillip & Lea, a paddock-to-plate place,” he says. “I started talking to the guy about it and he said, ‘It’s actually super easy.’”
Lawry made some bacon, followed by some duck prosciutto. Then a friend asked him to make a leg of jamón for their wedding. He didn’t fully know what he was doing but dove in anyway, building a custom curing chamber controlled by Arduino.
“That kind of started this passion,” he says. “What I found was, what I could make at home, with a barbeque that I turned into a smoker, and my own fridge and oven, was better than what I could buy.”
Lawry and his long-time mate and Saltsmith business partner, Dave Ball, began making and retailing three types of streaky bacon in early 2020 at their kitchen in North Melbourne. More recently they moved the retail component to a dedicated store at Queen Vic Market, open on Saturdays only.
Visit, or shop online, for plain breakfast bacon, and four-pepper bacon crusted with cracked peppercorns (black, white, green and pink), plus a hint of juniper. My pick, though, is undoubtedly the maple-whisky bacon produced in collaboration with Port Melbourne’s Starward Distillery. It tastes nothing like the syrupy-sweet maple bacon you might have had in North America, or crumbled over a doughnut here. The sweetness and the whisky flavour are both subtle, working together to give the rashers a complex lap cheong (Chinese sausage) vibe.
The duo is constantly experimenting and has other products and collaborations on the horizon, which are under wraps for now. The current varieties take 10 days to make. Pork belly is dry-cured in salt for seven days, cold-smoked over fragrant peach or cherry wood at less than five degrees, cooked at 65 degrees to eliminate pathogens, then sliced and packaged.
“The fruit woods combined with the cold smoker impart a very light smoke,” Ball says. He and Lawry are keen to avoid harsh, crispy, barbeque-type flavours. And they only use fat-heavy streaky bacon for its ability to absorb and retain flavour and aroma compounds.
“Those large slabs of meat that you see, the loin rashers,” Ball says, “if you try and do what we do to that, you’ll get hardly any flavour in there.”
They use free-range meat from Limestone Pork, a small farm north-east of Melbourne. Where most commercial bacon is made using a lean breed of pig called Large White, Saltsmith’s comes from crossbreed animals with some Duroc, Berkshire and Landrace heritage, for improved meat structure and fat content.
“We want to make the best bacon in Australia,” Lawry says. “If you talk to people from other countries, they tell you the bacon here is rubbish.
“We think the Aussie consumer is missing out a bit, with what’s possible with bacon.”
Shed I, stall 87–88, Queen Victoria Market, Queen Street, Melbourne
0499 034 453
Update, May 18, 2022: Saltsmith bacon is now available at selected Woolworths stores. The article has been edited to reflect this.