Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Add to My MSN

Old Ways of Processing Pork at Home

12/18/2013 7:55:00 AM

Tags: home butchery, pork processing, Deer Isle Hostel, Maine, Anneli Carter Sundqvist

scalding hogThough I don't actively practice any religion, this past Friday I did seek peace and comfort in the one prayer I know, minutes before our pigs got killed. Probably mostly for my own sake; I needed peace and comfort, they just wanted breakfast.

We kill our pigs right in their pen. With the right kind of gun and confident aim we ensure an instant and painless death for our pigs without hours of transport and fear. We also stay in control over the whole process taking care of the meat and can use the odd bits that otherwise would go to waste. Like the brain, for example, that we fried up for breakfast the next morning and spread on bread, or the heart, big enough for several meals.

The Scalding Process

We shoot them between the eyes, and cut the throat to bleed them out. When the pig is dead we attach a gambrel to the tendons by it's rear hoofs and with a rope and pulley we hoist it up and lower it into a barrel with steaming (160F) water. This is to scald the skin so we can scrape the hair. Usually the pig is too big to be submerged so after scraping the front half, we attach a hook in it's lower jaw and hoist it up to dip the rear half. Once clean we cut the head off and hoist it up again to take the guts out and hand saw the animal in half from top to bottom.

Curing and Smoking Pork

We use some old and tried techniques for how to process the meat, like curing and smoking the big cuts so they'll keep without being put in a freezer. The ham, shoulder, bacon, back fat, tenderloin and loin along the the jowls and the trotters (feet) get rubbed down with a sugar and salt (1:4) mix to cure and preserve them. We keep the pieces in plastic tubs and as water drains from the meat and accumulates in the tub we empty it out to keep the meat as dry as possible. Since the hams are so thick they are the hardest cuts to dry. We put weight on them, a board and some bricks, to press more liquid out of them. In a few weeks we'll get our smoke house going to seal the cure and add flavor by smoking them. cutting meat

Not too long ago in the west livestock was too valuable not to use every bit of it, and still is, in many parts of the world. It's inevitable that some of the animal will always end up buried in our garden, or as bone meal fertilizer from charred and crushed bones or boiled down and fed to the chickens, but we're constantly striving to learn new, mostly old ways of utilizing and preserving more of the pigs for our own consumption.

Making Headcheese

Headcheese has nothing to do with cheese, but is usually enjoyed the same way, on crackers or bread. We make it by cleaning the head (taking out eyes and ears) and boiling the meat off the bones together with the tongue. After boiled until it's tender and well broken down, the meat is packed in jars or molds and covered with the gelatinous broth created while cooking. We also make confit, which is an excellent way to use the small bits of meat that accumulates while cleaning up bigger cuts. We chop the meat fine and put it in a Dutch oven with rendered lard and let it boil for a long time until all the water is gone. The mix is put in jars and cooled and covered with a layer of fat, as a preservative. Both the headcheese and the confit we keep in our root cellar during the winter. We make soup stock by boiling off all the bones thoroughly and saving the liquid in jars, and we render the fat to make lard that we use as cooking grease, skin lotion and to rub down our leather boots and mittens.

porkStill, we have much left to learn. The liver is a substantial part of the pig that could be processed and eaten, and the blood could be used for blood pudding and blood sausage. We'll try our hands on salami one of these years and we've already saved the ears and the tail for further processing and fearless eating experiences.

There is no more Louise and Clark, at least not out in the pen. Our pigs become part of our lives and daily routines but as with all life and death; we know the end will come, still we're so poorly prepared for how strangely deserted the yard suddenly feels. But to say that the pigs are gone is an ill-conceived statement, our pigs will live on, through us, in the many abundant meals they'll provide.



Related Content

Hog Butchering Day

Hog butchering was a common farm chore done in the early winter. It provided much of the family's me...

What Good Is a Pig? Cuts of Pork, Nose to Tail

Vermont farmer Walter Jeffries details all the cuts of meat on a pig, as well as many other uses of ...

Pigs For the Summer

Keeping feeder pigs over the summer is a good way to use garden leftovers and produce great tasting ...

Chef Barbara Michelson guest blogs about her recent pork workshop with Cole.

Guest Chef Barbara Michelson talks about her recent pork workshop with Cole Ward

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 

EddieAdams
1/1/2014 9:40:38 AM
I well remember the long ago days of processing our own farm animals & fowl. The hogs were done the way you show but we added woodstove ashes to the hot water to raise the PH factor for some reason.. The hog-hair was saved back then and sold at the farmstore in Ladysmith, Wisconsin. The blood was caught for bloodsoup or blood sausage. All other parts were processed into head-cheese, the tongue, heart, kidneys, were kept out for special cooking. My Dad used to say: "The only thing that gets away from us is the "squeal." We saved the fat for lard or for making soaps. The bacon grease was used as "butter" on our homebaked bread..










Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.