"We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependant on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."
—Wendell Berry

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Ham and bacon- finally

Well I couldn't wait any longer for the cold room to be ready. It's not. So I have had to make do and slaughter one of the remaining Baconers anyway. They are just getting too big and will soon be too large to handle. As it was I estimate the one we did today was around one hundred and fifty kilos. Big pig.
Slowly pouring the scalding water on.
This allows the bristles and outer layer of skin to be removed.

The scald went well this time. I have had a bit of advice from an ex-butcher friend. He recommended pouring the hot water on rather than dipping the pig. It is a lot easier even if it does take a bit longer. Also he said to use a shovel for the scrape. It allows you to cover the big sides easily and quickly which is a big help when you have to do the whole thing on your own, as I was. We used the tractor to move the pig from where it was killed to the slaughter area and to haul up the pig on the gambrel. Afterwards I cut the carcasse into forequarters, bacon sides and hams. I then put it all into the freezer to cool down for a few hours.
Well I weigh around 120kg, so I can assure you the pig was a LOT heavier!

Later in the afternoon I made up a curing mix of coarse salt, brown sugar and saltpetre. I then took the hams from the freezer where they had cooled but not frozen (frozen is bad if you want to cure the meat) and trimmed them up to look a little more presentable. In fact I had to remove the top of the hams containing the H bone so they would fit into the fridge I was to use. So we ended up with a couple of extra roasts. The hams were then well rubbed and packed with the mix before each being laid on a shelf of the fridge. Then the bacon sides were likewise trimmed up and salted before being packed two to a shelf- the weight helps them cure. They will be re-packed every so often to ensure they all cure evenly. The fridge itself has been turned down to about three degrees which is the optimum temperature for curing ham.
The top two shelves are bacon slabs.
Ham on the bottom two shelves.

With the remaining forequarters and all of the leftover odds and bobs I will be making salami (Italian style and Chorizo) and sausages. In the kitchen is a great big bubbling pot of odd trimmings from the bacon sides. Salted and spiced, it will be kept boiling for about a day before being poured into pans and cooled to make Brawn. Sort of like a gelatinous meatloaf, it is absolutely delicious between two slices of bread and is very good for you.


  1. Ulf, that is one big job.
    I have done a few over the years but nothing that size. Hope it all turns out well with the curing.

  2. It was really too big a job for one man. In future I will try to round up a bit more help so I can do the job properly.