Hog Harvesting

Broken down simply:

Hang itHang it

Skin itSkin the hog

Gut it, being sure to avoid cutting any intestines. If you do, be sure to flush the cavity with plenty of water.Gutting a hog

Split itSplitting the Hog

 

 

Yielding two halves. This makes it easier to handle, both for chilling and for breaking down into smaller portions.

The Rib sectionThe Rib Section

This can be broken down two ways, for meaty ribs with little or no bacon, or removing all of the belly meat and fat and muscle covering the ribs to be cured and smoked into bacon, leaving skinnier, almost meatless ribs.

We opted for the meatless ribs and all bacon :)

Pork belly, Future Bacon
Pork belly, Future Bacon

 

The loin is removed from the ribs and was then cut it into boneless chops.

Removing the loin from the ribs
Removing the loin from the ribs

 

Pork Loin cut into chops
Cutting the pork loin into chops

 

Here is some meat trivia – What is the front shoulder of a pig called? The butt. What is the butt of a pig called? A ham. Unless you are talking about the lower front shoulder of a pig, that is a “picnic ham”. Craziness.

The hams were separated, and will be turned into cured ham.

The butts and adjoining picnics, were smoked off for pulled pork. I had some for breakfast. Mighty tasty!pork shoulders

The chops were all vacuum sealed into manageable portions. Pork Chops

They were not very big, but I taste-tested a couple and were mighty fine eats.

Pan Seared Pork Chops (Yes, that is butter on the fork)
Pan Seared Pork Chops
(Yes, that is butter on the fork)

 

All of the fat was trimmed off and frozen overnight ( at this point, I was out of room in the fridge!) Pork Fat

I then rendered it out, yielding almost a gallon and a half of pure, white lard.Home Rendered LArd

As well as about a quart of cracklin’s. They were dusted with some season salt, and are used like bacon bits.

Pork Cracklin's
Pork Cracklin’s

 All of the trim was ground up, possibly to be made into sausage, otherwise, simply used as ground pork.

Ground Pork
Ground Pork

The bacon will be done in about a week, the hams a little longer, since the time it takes in brining/curing is based on weight. Being the “Pro”, BlueTang is doing this, and will be putting of the the 9 smokers to use, probably his UDS. For what it’s worth, he swears by his “UDS”, or Ugly Drum Smoker, a smoker he built out of a steel drum. Building one for myself is on my bucket list…And I’m hoping BT will write up a “How-To” soon….

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So now that the narrative is over, I need to address something. This took about three days to complete. During that time, I was rushed, annoyed, harassed (its what friends do to each other), wet, tired, bloody, and plain old worn out. Not everything went as planned, but in the end, as they say, “A good time was had by all”, and we ended up with some quality meat. This was one of the few times I fealt as though I could live happily ever after here in Florida. I was doing something I loved to do, “making meat”, and I was sharing the experience with others that loved to do it as well.

I guess I’m trying to say that life is what you make of it, and if you do not like the situation, change the situation…or your view of it. (Yes, this is something I’ve said before!) This all occurred on the week I normally spend in West Virginia, deer hunting, in order to put meat in the freezer. Harvesting these hogs gave me that feeling of being where I want to be. So I want to thanks both TK as well as BT for involving me…

 

I cannot put a value on what I got out of the weekend, above and beyond the food.

 

Peace,
db

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10 comments:

  1. Typically awesome post! Thank you. Far too many people are too far removed from where their food actually comes from.
    The first time I harvested my own deer…I understood the spiritual part of hunting. There is something to be said for feeding oneself, whether it be carrots, trout, or pork.
    Best-
    TJ

    1. Thanks for the kind words…and yes, producing your own food is not only good for your health physically, its is also good for it spiritually.

    1. No, fresh pork is not gamey and gross…and neither is beef or deer, to me.

      Aging can improve flavor, but isn’t required to get a decent flavor….for me.

      There are two contributing factors, from what I’ve read, and discussions I’ve had with BlueTang, who did a study as his senior thesis on boar taint, the pheromones that male pigs give off that affect meat flavor.

      The first factor is that some people are simply more sensitive to the smells and flavors of animals, no matter the breed. For whatever reason, his study showed that women are far more likely to be put off by smells and tastes of animal flesh than men. I’m one of the lucky ones, and it doesn’t seem to be anything I can detect normally.

      The other factor is what I mentioned above, proper handling. Improper handling magnifies the first factor, too.

      And sows (female pigs) do not have the pheromone that offends many people’s senses. So if you decide to raise a pig, raise a female – they taste better! The same goes for most animals…the males are stinky, and the females are not :)

        1. The sad (ok, to me its funny) part is that I get to eat ANYTHING, it doesn’t seem to bother me…but BlueTang is ultra sensitive :) I can be chowing on something as I approach him, and he’ll start swearing at me for eating something that smells HORRID… a smell that I don’t notice 😛

          It’s part of the reason he did the research for his thesis…

          My wife and daughters notice it as well…so I need to pick and choose when and what I eat while at home….

  2. Oh man, I wish you lived near me!

    I raised three pigs for meat a couple years ago, but not having any butchering skills (or firearms!), I had to take them to an abattoir and then butcher shop to have them turned into meat.

    Best pork I’ve ever had, though :-).

  3. DB Thanks again. I did not remember BlueTang being such an animal with that saw :)
    As for you dispatching the pigs I did tell BT I had nothing, except the pigs.

    I’ve got a UDS in the plans for possibly Sunday, since I kind of need one for my BACON. I only need a 3/4 valve, and I’m guessing the PVC one I’ve got laying around won’t work. And something for a firebox.

    So far we’ve had a roast & Chops, both were excellent, and the meat has a very clean flavor.

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