Great stories and info. on pig raising/processing

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by fin29, Mar 26, 2004.

  1. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

    Jun 4, 2003
  2. barbarake

    barbarake Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2003
    Upstate SC
    That was quite an interesting site - I read through the whole thing.

    My father had a butcher store while I was growing up. I remember making sausage and pickling corned beef but never got involved in the actual butchering. But I bet I'm the best chicken-cutter-upper you've ever met!! :D

  3. snoozy

    snoozy Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Kitsap Co, WA
    Wow! Nice account -- but I think I will pay the butcher to do the job.
  4. bearkiller

    bearkiller Well-Known Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Northern California
    That was a very good accounting of the big event, though many of the photos left me wondering what was depicted. I can only wish I had that kind of help for the process; most times it was reduced to me and my bride. So obviously I have never processed so many at one time.

    A few comments about what you've just been through. First off, shooting and sticking is pretty straight forward, but it is easier to stick the hog if you roll him on his back and straddle the head. Most people like using a caping knife for the sticking, but my preferance is an 8 inch boning knife.

    I have never seen anyone put the whole hog into a scalding tank that big. Also, an old bathtub makes a good scalding tank if raised on bricks to allow a fire underneath. Usually the best way to handle the hog is to sink a hayhook into the point of the chin and use that to hold the hog while he is dipped half way into the scalding tank. AND, an aid to help get the hair to slip easily is to add rosin to the water. But most of us cheat and simply use some ashes, raising the pH of the water. Looks "dirty" and messy, but it helps enormously, and ultimately gets washed off. Once one end is scalded we usually scraped that end then stuck the hayhook into one gambrel tendon in the back leg and immersed the other end of the hog. Also guessing at water temp is foolish...we kept a thermometer handy. Too cold and the hair will not slip. Too hot and you set the hair. Also a very sharp knife to do some shaving helps. And lastly here, cleaning that head is a MAJOR challenge...reaming out the ear canals, getting the eyes out.

    Next step is getting the scraped hog hung up. I never did care for using a gambrel because once hung without the pole as shown in those photos the carcass was free to spin and that is no fun at all. Thank you very much, I prefer using 3/16 or 1/4 log chain with grab hooks around the rear feet, but including the hock. Attach to the front bucket of my friend John Deere and it is very easy to raise up a 300 pound hog.

    There have been times when no help at all has been available and I have found it somewhat easier to skin out the hog rather than scald and scrape. It is not difficult, but you do lose much fat that can be rendered to lard. And you do not get the nice hams with the skin on.

    The single best reference I can suggest for better pictures and more detail on the cutting up of the carcase is the Morton Salt guide. Most likely it is out of print. I know I would not give up mine, even though I have been through this process so many times.

    And while the account of processing your hogs to meat says some unkind things about rendering and eating lard, more recent research has proven that all the vegetable oil gives us a major overdose of omega 6 fats. AND pork lard is the very best choice in animal fat because it is the LEAST saturated of all the animal fats and by several measures the most healthful. Bear in mind however a large part of that statement depends on how the hogs are raised. Too much grain and the omega 6 levels go way up. Much better to feed those acorns and root crops, the entire corn plant, not just corn grain, more alfalfa and less soybean oil meal, and let them forage some of their own grub.

    Since freezer space is limited for me, I always bone out all meat so I economise on freezer space. I have noticed a significant difference in the flavor of the meat if you leave bone in compared to boneless. Prefer boneless.

    Those of you who are homesteaders and not vegetarians I encourage you to get to this process sooner or later. For those who do this work, take the time to honor and thank your livestock for providing for you. For the sqeamish, get over it, it is a part of life.

    Just for the record, though, I will say that after a day of cutting and gutting the last thing I have any interest in is eating fresh pork. Dealing with the fresh innards can be somewhat unpleasant. Takes me a day or two before that interest returns.