Advice for a first time pig butcherer?

Discussion in 'Pigs' started by Ark, Oct 29, 2006.

  1. Ark

    Ark Well-Known Member

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    We got two piglets this spring and kept them in the former dog pen (25'x25') for about 4 or 5 months. Then a month ago we moved them to our 50'x50' garden which is fenced in with field fencing, t-posts, and cedar posts on the corners. They have tilled it up nicely! I hope our garden will produce better next year! It's amazing how many big rocks they have dug up! :shrug: :p

    Today we are going to pick up our next two piglets and next week we are going to butcher the two big ones.

    Can anyone give me some advice? Like, things to be aware of, or things you wish you had known the first time you butchered a pig?

    We are very comfortable butchering chickens, deer, and goats, so we HOPE this wont be too overwhelming.

    We plan to hang it and skin it. I hate to waste the hams and bacon but we have NO idea how to go about dealing with those and we cant afford to take it to a butcher to get it done right. So, we'll probably just grind it all up and make LOTS of sausage - mixed with cabrito or venison.

    So, the first week of deer season is going to be lots of hard work around here! Presumably we will have one or two deer to process, plus the two pigs.

    TIA for any advice!
    ARK
     
  2. Horace Baker

    Horace Baker Well-Known Member

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    Can you find a smokehouse to smoke your home-butchered cuts? That way you'd only have to pay a per-pound charge for smoking.

    When I first skinned a pig, I wish I had known to remove the skin in 2-3 inch strips, rather than mangle the carcass tring to skin it like a cow.
     

  3. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I couldn't imagine skining them like this! They are a hard critter to skin, be sure you have a sharp knife. Don't grind them hams up, they make great fresh pork roasts. You can make salt pork with the bacons. Save the lard, including the inter abdominal leaf lard. With hold feed at least 12 hours before killing. If you are not saving the lard, grind the fat up and mix it with your ground venison. Chill the carcass overnight before cutting. If you are not saving the head for head cheese bone it out, planty of good sausage meat there. Buy a case of beer. Fry the liver up when the beer is half gone.
     
  4. Ark

    Ark Well-Known Member

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    All we have for chilling it overnight in, is ice chests... So, I guess we'll have to quarter it up.
    I dont think beer is going to improve the taste of the liver any! LOL
    Come on over - you can have it. :p
    Thanks for the advice!
     
  5. Ark

    Ark Well-Known Member

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    Can you explain to me the benefits of smoking vs curing? We'd love to have a nice ham or two but how would it taste just smoked, not cured?
    Thanks,
    ARK
     
  6. Paul O

    Paul O Well-Known Member

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    Ark,
    Cured meat is heavily salted and cold smoked for a long time. It is actually preserved and doesn't need refrigeration. It is also tough and needs to be soaked to remove some of the salt prior to cooking.
    Most smoked ham today is not as heavily salted and is smoked for a shorter time. It will require refrigeration, but can be eaten without further processing.
    There are variations of course. Some cured hams are just salted and died without smoke. I'd also bet that some grocery store hams never even see smoke, except the liquid kind.

    Paul
     
  7. blue gecko

    blue gecko Well-Known Member

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    Pick up some pre packaged Morton's Quick Cure at the grocery store in the spice section. It's usually stocked with the salt. Take your hams, hocks, belly and follow the directions on the package. It takes around 30 days to cure the meat (this is based on the size of the cut) After that you've got sugar cured meat and you can cool smoke it for further preservation or keep it refrigerated and hot smoke it when your are ready to eat it.
    There are some wonderful recipes in Grace Firth's book "Stillroom Cookery". Amazon carries it along with some used copies and it's well worth keeping in your library right next to Carla Emery's book.

    If you'll take a little time to research this before you start, I think you'll be glad you did.
     
  8. Ark

    Ark Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm.... I definitely dont want to grind up ALL the meat, but even if we do nothing will be wasted.
    I'd like to do a ham!! I found this site: http://sugarmtnfarm.com/blog/2006/04/how-to-brine-ham.html.
    It might be worth a try! I have to avoid the prague cure or quick cure because my son has extreme food sensitivities and allergies.
     
  9. blue gecko

    blue gecko Well-Known Member

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    I hope you'll at least try some curing Ark. It's a fun 'hobby'. There are also some very nice sausage recipes in "Stillroom Cookery". If you want to try some others let me know I've got tons of sausage recipes!
     
  10. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Just because you may not want to cure and smoke the hams doesn't mean you need to grind them. They make excellent boneless pork roasts.
     
  11. TexCountryWoman

    TexCountryWoman Gig'em

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  12. frog1437

    frog1437 Well-Known Member

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    The 2 front shoulders can be cooked in the oven( slower the better)..Use your own spices to create a rub.. You will know when they are done because the meat will easily fall off the bone. You can chop it up or just pull it off and store it in the freezer till you are ready to use it. When you thaw it out it will taste just as good if not better than the day of the kill. Bar b que.
     
  13. Ark

    Ark Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to see if our library has that cookery book - thanks! Cant afford to buy it just yet. Can you give me any ideas on the general amount of sage (per pound?) used in sausage recipes? I know everyone has different tastes, so we'll have to experiment a little... We like salt, pepper, and sage in our breakfast sausage, LOL. But have only made up tiny amounts of it before. We like to mix some venison in with it as well.

    BlueGecko - What color would the hams turn out without using the cure?

    Diane, I will take lots of pics! I wish I had a pic of us all running around trying to catch the new little piglets when they escaped their pen yesterday! For some reason, our horse is a PIG HATER so she was galloping around trying to make pork pancakes out of them and we were running around trying to catch her and the pigs.... It was hilarious! Finally got her tied up, and Kris had the brilliant idea to lay down on the ground and they got curious about him and walked up to check him out and he grabbed them. :p

    frog1437 - Thanks for the idea for cooking the shoulders! Maybe it will taste better than I am expecting. LOL. The few times that I have eaten a pork roast, they were bland and fatty. But, they were storebought of course!! :rolleyes:
     
  14. Ark

    Ark Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I should really try that before just assuming that we dont like pork roast! Thanks!
    What about cutting some strips of meat off for jerky? Would it just be WAY too moist?
    Usually when we butcher a deer or goat we cut off strips of meat from the hindquarters and marinate it in whey for a few days, then season it and smoke it. It makes the BEST jerkey! DH is ADDICTED to it. :)
     
  15. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You can't make jerky out of pork. I'm not sure why. Probably to many common diseases between pigs and humans to eat uncooked.
     
  16. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    I have step by step directions on my website for butchering smaller pigs. For big ones you may need a hoist and hitch to hang it. I prefer the cape method of skinning since my pigs are lean. The strip method requires a layer of fat to work.
     
  17. Horace Baker

    Horace Baker Well-Known Member

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    Don't forget fresh ham steaks or even cutlets.
     
  18. Ark

    Ark Well-Known Member

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    GeorgeK, I am doing lots of reading on your site - great information. Thanks! (And what are those crazy people thinking who send you hate mail? Good grief! :shrug: )

    Horace Baker - OK, since I am totally "ignant" here, I am going to have to ask if you mean to just cut some slices off the ham? But, will it really taste like ham or just pork roast? LOL

    I'm so thankful for all of the ideas yall have given me!! Cant wait to try this! Too bad we gotta get several deer out of the way first. :rolleyes: But, we really do need that deer meat as well. My kids are dreading next week. :baby04:

    When I told them that they are lucky to know how to do something that most kids can not do, they werent impressed! Humph. :p Plus, they get to get out of a week of school work and you'd think that would make them happy! LOL
     
  19. blue gecko

    blue gecko Well-Known Member

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    Amazon has used copies of Stillroom Cookery CHEAP.

    check out this site for some recipes:

    http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/he176w.htm

    As for the color. They won't be as pink when you leave out the saltpeter.

    From the book: [note: the hams she uses have the skin/rind on]

    "Pork may be brine cured and called pickled; it may be dry salted or sugar cured. The object in each case is the same: to remove moisture quickly and thus injibit bacterial action. Dry curing meat is faster and in the south, preferred; whichever method you use to cure pork, remember that cleanliness, coolness and speed are paramount."

    Dry Sugar Cured Ham: [I've used this method with good results, I omit the saltpeter]

    Trim and weigh hams and shoulders. To make a cure for 50 pounds meat, mix in a large dishpan 4 pounds noniodized salt, 2 pounds sugar and 2 tablespoons saltpeter. Rub the ingredients between your palms for about five minutes. Divide the curing mixture into two parts, save one portion for resalting at a later date and rub one part on all surfaces of meat. Poke the salt mix into the shank ends and around the bone, pat and poke until the hams are coated with salt and layer them into a plastic trash container that has been sterilized. Keep cool, 38 to 48 degrees F and covered for a week. On the 7th day rub the remaining half of the salt cure into the hams and reposition the meat so that each piece has been turned over. Put the lid back on the container again. Curing time for hams is usually between 2-3 days per poound, minimum 28 days. If your hams average 15 pounds you should keep them in cure for 30 to 45 days. If they average 9 poundsthey should stay in cure for the minimum, 28 days. When in doubt leave the heavier cuts of meat in salt an extra day. Give salt lots of time to penetrate.

    Bacon uses the same cure mixture and cures 1 1/2 days per pound, minimum 25 days. You don't have to resalt smaller pieces of meat. Place the bacon on top of the hams in the curing container.

    After the time in cure is up, remove the meat, rinse each piece in tepid water, hang the bacon to dry in a cool place and soak the larger pieces of meat for about 20 minutes before hanging them. Meat should dry thoroughly, usually 4 days to a week, and after each piece is full dry wrap separately in 3 layers of paper, tie securely and hang in a cool dark, dry, varmint-proof place.

    We age our hams for 6-9 months...other households age their hams for a year or more."
     
  20. Horace Baker

    Horace Baker Well-Known Member

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    If you didn't smoke or cure it, it will taste like pork roast. Actually, if you cut into steaks, more like a pork chop. For cutlets, yes, you'd just slice thin pieces off the ham.

    The terminology can be a little confusing, because "ham" has come to mean smoked and cured. But a ham essentially refers to the whole rear leg of the pig. If you cut it in half you'd have two of what people think of as a "ham", but these pieces are "ham roasts", and if smoked and cured, "smoked ham roasts". Terminology may be different in other areas.