Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Butchering to Plan

British Lop
This is our second year of butchering our own pigs and this year we had a much better plan.

Last year, we knew what we wanted to do with the meat but we each butchered a side of pig at the same time and things did get a bit fraught.

This year we decided to deal with one side at a time between us and things went much more smoothly. Added to which, we now have two puppies in the household and we needed to clear down to let them out from time to time during the day.

Jilly has never shown any interest whatsoever in our butchering activities, the only thing that gets her off the sofa is sausage making because she knows that samples will be fried off at regular stages.
Witness two puppies entering the kitchen and searching in bewilderment for the meat they were sure we had in here. Then watch those same two go outside and try to figure out why the pick-up suddenly smells so good.

Our carcasses come home in the pick-up on a clean sheet with a tarpaulin underneath. We create a stash of ice by filling empty plastic milk bottles with water and freezing them and we place these in the back of the pick-up to keep the carcasses cool. Then, we break down each side of pork by removing the legs and shoulders, putting the smaller, more manageable parts in fridges and freezers until we can work on them. Popping large pieces of pork into the freezer is ok, they are not going to freeze, just keep cool until we process them further.

We also made sure that our cures were ready before we started cutting. It is especially useful to have a wet cure ready so that joints can be dropped into the cure as the cutting progresses.

Rather than bore you with a list of everything we have, like we did last year, I'll just give you the highlights.

We used a leg from the Middle White and one from an Oxford Sandy and Black to make air dried ham.
We have four gammons and two picnic hams that went into a wet cure, along with all of the hocks.
We made back bacon from one side of British Lop, one side of Middle White and one side of Oxford Sandy and Black, and we made streaky bacon from one side of British Lop.
Four of the tenderloins were used to make Lonzino.
We made four salamis and six chorizos from the Middle White and British Lop meat and finally, we processed 50lb of pork into sausages. That's a lot of sausages, and that was our plan. As someone we know says "You can never have too many sausages!"
We'll tell you more about what flavourings we gave our sausages in another post.

Of course, we also have joints and ribs and etc. not to mention the wonderful offal and back fat.

Things went better this year, which is as it should be because we are still learning.
We are very happy with the meat that this year's pigs have provided us with.


  1. Nothing like range raised animals for meat. Butchering is not rocket science but as you say careful planning and preparation is a key. You will never go back to store bought meat after this.
    Here one must slaughter in govt. approved and inspected premises.

    1. We are not allowed to slaughter at home either, Red, we can do our own butchering though, as long as the meat is for our own consumption.

  2. My goodness, what a lot of work, but it sounds like you are getting the process down to a fine art. It's great that you both work well together and continue to learn together. Seeing it through from beginning to end, and then reaping the benefits of your own meat must feel very sstisfying. Now, when's dinner...or breakfast - I'll book a flight ;)

    I'm sure your pups are most bewildered by all the interesting smells.

    1. You would be welcome at our table any time, Glo :)


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