Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Skinning A Pig by Maine Man - processing part 1

Some say you can't skin a pig you must scrape it. Around here we reserve the C word for special occasions. I have found by letting the carcass cool for a few hours the loose greasy fat hardens and the hide takes on a leathery quality. Today's 40 degree temps were just perfect for cooling your hog. After skinning the animal down just past the tail I placed a small rock about 1/2 the size a baseball under the hide and wrapped it tightly with a slip loop. I then let off the clutch on the tractor in super low range. One could do the same thing by hanging the animal from a large branch and pulling with a truck. One word of caution this process requires a great deal of pressure and if your knot slips or the branch breaks there's 200lb of meat coming your way at 100 mph (pigs can fly). I used double slip loops on each hind leg, one set carried the load. The second set carried little to no pressure and acted as a safety lanyard in case the first rope slips or brakes. A high quality 5/16 rope will snug up tighter than 1/2 inch and is far less likely to slip. Guide the intestines out of the way with your knuckles this method will open them like a zipper and more importantly it'll keep the poop off the bacon.

Happiness comes from a large stack of meat ( you betcha). Here's a ham, 2 sides of bacon, and the fat back (or back fat which ever your prefer). We have a book called Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game that is written by a DR of Veterinary Medicine, John Mettler. It's a good reference for all you weekend warriors and backyard butchers like ourselves and has some great recipes as well.

Pork chop!!! ( the other white meat) although it kinda pink isn't it.

Oh yes, lovely bacon. Here I am slapping on a mixture of salt, brown sugar, and maple syrup. This is our first time making bacon, we'll let your know how it comes out. It needs to set for 7 days in fridge with this solution and then a few hours of smoking to be complete. As of now we have no brilliant plan for the smoking but, necessity is the mother of invention.

Some fine fat indeed the kidneys are encased in this pure snow white fat which is the consistency of Crisco.

Ok, back to me. It was nice to have Maine Man do a post, don't you think? Since he does not regularly follow my blog (he says he lives it) I told him about the responses I received on to post or not to post the pictures and he said "they are not gory pictures and it is for educational purposes." I hate to admit but he is RIGHT. Hope I do not have to say those words again anytime soon. ;)
Back to the fat. Some of was packaged up and put into the freezer for future soap making. I plan to combine it with cow fat. I previously read over at Throwback at Trapper Creek
this method is the way to go because if you used only pig lard it would be to soft or exclusively cow to hard. I look forward to making this recipe!
Some of the lard will be made into salt pork for my dad. The lard in the above kettle can be used like you would use Crisco. I cut it up into chunks, placed it in my cast iron kettle with approx 3/4 cup of water and cooked it in the oven for 2 hours at 225 degrees. I used a strainer and a piece of cheesecloth to strain it when it was done and below is the end result. The water was drained after it hardened. It is said to be healthier than the traditional fats we buy at the grocery store. I found this post this morning but I cannot find the site I used as a reference that night. :(
Meat total: 38lbs bacon
10lbs sausage
36lbs boneless chops & roasts
14lbs ground pork
gave away a front shoulder (approx 15 lbs of pork)
= 113 lbs of meat


warren said...

Wow! Great info and I am so envious of all the fresh meat!

henbogle said...

I'm so envious of your GH! Do you think there might be another one for sale? If so, could you e-mail me at henbogle at gmail.com and let me know the details. Thanks,

Stone Bridge Farm said...

GREAT POST! How much did the pig weigh prior to butchering?

Patrice Farmer said...

Wow, look at all the food you have to feed your family!!!

farm mom said...

Thank you so much MM for sharing this with us!! You guys rock! I'm so envious!

YD said...

Look at all that meat!

Mare said...

That was fascinating! I really enjoyed reading it! Thanks so much for sharing .... I think i can smell that bacon now....

Lisa T. said...

You guys are so brave. I too am envious. We take our pigs to the butcher and have him do the dirty work, but it always bothers me to give up even that little bit of control. 'Cause how can you say you raised it, if you didn't "process it"?

I was nervous about the pics, but they were very tasteful (and tasty) and informative. Good job. I am so impressed!

Lisa T.

jenn said...

Fascinating. I'm looking forward to hearing how the bacon comes out.

GreyWolf said...

Thanks for the Info and the pics.
If you Google "HOME CURING AND SMOKING PORK" you may find some ideas you could use. Here is one site I use: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/cure_smoke.html
and there are many sites on making smokers from anything from a full blown smokehouse down to a cardboard box smoker. I have even seen a guy smoke a 24 lb turkey on a stick frame covered with aluminum foil. It turned out FABULOUS, fully cooked and smoked to perfection.

Sarah said...

That was a really informative post. Thank Maine Man for me!

Country Girl said...

Henbogle I will send you out an e-mail with more info.

SB, I'd guess 200lbs??

GW, thanks for the ideas.

Lynnie said...

Wow, that first pic is a little--whoa! We raise two pigs every year. They help clear the land which we can then make into pasture for the goats. My husband does everything necessary to put them in the freezer. I'm assuming he skins them, but I've never been there to see! I have seen them hanging since he likes to let them hang before taking them to the butcher. I think he could process them himself but it's so time-consuming putting that much meat in freezer packaging. We have made bacon the last two years. The first year it was way too salty. We were pretty bummed. This year we put less salt and the result was much better! Somewhere I've got pictures of the kids helping make the brine for the bacon. I love that you're putting this info out there so that there is a resource for people interested in raising their own meat!

Janine said...

Awesome job you guys! We have butchered a hog before, but found it was a little slippery to deal with! We let the local small butcher shop do the job now, but pay the price! Nice to know that we can do it if we need to :) Thanks for reminding me, I need to go pick up my lard so I can render it down and make my own Crisco! Talk soon, Janine

Ron said...

Great post, I enjoyed the details of the skinning. Mel and I did it with knives, which works, but it is time-consuming. I think I'm going to try an "orange" approach next time, as was suggested to me. If I had a front-end loader, I'd do like MM.

For salty meat, you can just soak it in water. It will take the saltiness out. Our first batch of bacon, we soaked in cool water for an hour and it ended up a bit on the salty side. The 2nd time, I soaked for 2 hours and it turned out perfect.

Nice job!


Jennifer said...

Great post, Maine Man!

Jody said...

Holy pig! That is so great! Did you come up with a smoker? They are worth the investment if you cannot fashion one! We have one that you could borrow, but we are a bit of a drive from you. Let me know though, the offer stands! I hope whatever you do works well!

Sam said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I have enjoyed reading. I'm so envious! What a great informative post. Thanks so much for sharing.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Great info on butchering pork! We would love to raise our own meat and butcher it ourselves. Just not gotten there yet.

I am so jealous of all that great fat for soap making!