Hog Killin on December 29th

Canning, Dehydrating, Freezing, Fermenting, etc.

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Re: Hog Killin on December 29th

Postby matt walker » Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:56 pm

I can't be the only one who keeps checking in here to see how George is doing. Thinkin' of ya buddy, hope it's going smoothly for you. I really wish I closer, although I'm not sure about that liver, I'd still like to help.
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Re: Hog Killin on December 29th

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Sat Dec 29, 2012 10:05 pm

Well, I don't know about you Matt, but if George doesn't post something pretty soon I m about ready to start Drinking with out Him, ;) ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, :lol:
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Re: Hog Killin on December 29th

Postby George Collins » Sat Dec 29, 2012 11:31 pm

Done!

Well . . . mostly.

I pulled the trigger this morning at 8:15. We finished scrapping the carcass at 10:15. We finished butchering the meat at 12:15.

The company left at 5:15.

The hardest part of the whole operation was, by far, scrapping the hair off. We had three people working nonstop doing nothing but scraping while others facilitated the process.

Butchering the carcass was easy once halved.

Right now the whole thing is chilling in coolers and the cure will be applied tomorrow.

I didn't get to sleep last night until about 11:00 and woke up this morning at 4:00. So, when I'm not so exhausted, I'll provide a much more detailed account of the day.

BTW, one of the Cajuns grilled a sample of the meat immediately after we were finished butchering and absolutely no trace of boar taint was detected. From here on in, I'll never castrate another pig for my own consumption.
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Re: Hog Killin on December 29th

Postby matt walker » Sat Dec 29, 2012 11:55 pm

Aw man, so glad to hear it went smoothly. I'm thrilled for you, truly. What a good feeling. You are going to sleep well tonight, I'm sure. I'll look forward to more whenever you get caught up.
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Re: Hog Killin on December 29th

Postby George Collins » Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:04 pm

Wake up time was 0400. I made coffee, dressed and started breakfast. I awoke my friend, Andy shortly after 0500. Scott arrived about 0530. For breakfast, we had sourdough biscuits, jowl bacon, ham, grits and red eye gravy.

I left breakfast in the charge of my wife while Andy, Scott and I went to the deer camp to set up the water pots and put them on to boil.

We returned to the house and ate heartily.

We left the house about daylight to make our final preps which took, as was to be expected, far longer than anticipated. Many of those preps could have been made the day previous but for the steady rain that fell all day.

At about 0800 we met the consulting Cajun at the gate into the pasture. I fed the Berky babies a bunch of table scraps, reserving back a couple biscuits with which to distract The One Pig. I dropped the biscuits on the ground and The One Pig starting alternating between eating a biscuit and looking at all of the commotion around his pen. He finally got still and my rifle reported with good effect. He was bled by the consulting Cajun while the rest of us looked on with an academic fascination noting things like angle of penetration, depth of penetration, direction of sweep, etc. Another Cajun on scene was responsible for collecting a pot full of blood for use in some recipe they intended to cook for supper.

Once the bleed-out was complete, the carcass was transported the 1/4 mile to their deer camp. Once there, it was transferred to a table hastily constructed out of 3/4" treated plywood partially covered with a large swatch of burlap and supported by three sawhorses. The water had been previously heated in a pair of 60 quart crab pots to ~180 degrees. Once the pig was positioned on the table, another piece of burlap was draped over the head, the hot water was poured over the burlap and left until the hair began to pull out easily. Once the pull-test was deemed positive, the burlap was drawn back and we went to work. We worked for a very long time but were never able to bring the head area to a stage that resembled what I thought to be completion. The head Cajun decided to increase the temperature of the water another 10 degrees and decreed we move down the carcass to the shoulder area. The hair there seemed to turn loose a good bit easier than around the head but was still more difficult than I had visualized. On e the hair was removed to the head Cajun's satisfaction, we moved back another increment and he increased the temperature of he water another 10 degrees causing the hair to slip more easily still. We continued moving back and increasing the temperature of the water until it was boiling. The hair slipped most easily with water at the boil. The hypothesis was that the boiling water coupled with the cold water that was retained by the burlap between dousings averaged the temperature out to perfect or nearly so. So as we went, the faster we went.
Image

Once the hair was mostly scrapped off, the Cajuns appeared with several disposable razors and using them, we removed the last of the the more difficult hairs. (This operation occasioned much joking especially as we entered his nether regions.)

Image
We next removed the trotters and the head. Doing so was a very straight forward affair and seems easily reproducible. Doing so though gave us our first mess up - by removing the rear feet, we didn't have a way to suspend the carcass so all butchering had to take place with the pig on its back. The Cajuns didn't seem daunted by this at all. One of the more aggressive (drunk?) ones simply jumped in with a knife and like an experienced mafia hit-man, started slicing into the carcass along the abdominal and thoracic cavities. Once the flesh was penetrated, he used a sawzall to split the sternum during which time we experienced mishap #2 and he cut through the heart and he went slightly off-center and into the first and second ribs. Once everything was opened up, the rear of the pig was slid off the end of the table and all of the abdominal offal was dumped into a waiting container except for the liver which was cut out and laid aside. Next the contents of the thoracic cavity were removed and the heart reserved. The gall bladder was cut free from the liver and discarded and the interior was hosed out well.

The last act the Cajuns performed was to split the carcass in half using a sawzall. Once completed, they stepped aside to allow me to step up to the plate for the actual sectioning of the meat. As best as I could remember from the weeks of self-teaching that brought this moment about, I picked up a large knife and made the first cut while sweating buckets in spite of being saturated from the waist down in 40 degree weather. The pig was separated into the five primal cuts, the ribs removed from the bellies, the hams shaped and all manner of fine tuning took place with mistakes aplenty before calling the process done.

The cuts of meat were divided among four coolers and transported to my house. There they were placed in a shady, elevated position with the lids open such that the north wind was directed onto the meat. They were left there to chill until about 8:00 p.m. at which time the lids were closed.

Youngblood and I intend to apply the cure after everything has chilled for 24ish hours.

Lessons learned:
•Home butchering a hog is, by no stretch of the imagination, ever to be attempted solo. It was a tough several hours work for three of us Mississippi boys aged 35 - 45 while being directed and supported to varying degrees by three Cajuns and (to a much lesser extent) Youngblood.

•Hanging a hog certainly appears more conducive to a neat job of eviscerating and splitting the carcass than having it in supine.

•A sixteen hour fast is insufficient to have the digestive tract cleaned out.

•That French dude in the video makes separating a carcass into the five primal cuts look a lot easier than it really is for a first-timer in real life.

•The table used to butcher the carcass should be well perforated to allow the water a place to go before making it to the edge and wetting those leaning against it while they work.

•As long as the weather is on your side, don't hesitate to take a break to walk away and gather your thoughts, consult your reference material, get a chew of tobacco, etc.

•The conditions associated with killing a hog are not for the soft. By necessity it must be done when the weather is sufficiently cold to aid in the preservation of the meat. By necessity, much water is required. Since there is no way to avoid the cold and no realistic chance to avoid the wet, you will likely be both cold and wet throughout most of the process. There are some few words of advice that anyone intimidated by this process ought to consider: suck it up. If ya can't, don't.
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Re: Hog Killin on December 29th

Postby matt walker » Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:07 pm

Right on George, that was a great read. It must feel good to have the first one behind you, congrats. Good tips at the end there, I can picture all the water coming off the table at waist height, all over you as you work. As well, I was thinking that French dude was making the cuts look awfully easy. Did you have a hand bone saw like he used?
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Re: Hog Killin on December 29th

Postby Lollykoko » Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:00 pm

Thanks for the follow-up and photos, George. Those tips are going to be invaluable. I'll especially keep in mind the idea that you want to leave the feet on the carcass long enough to hang for butchering. :) I'm thinking it might make the whole process a little less wet.

As I understand your tale, the hog was scalded in portions, moving the burlap as needed. Was this because there was not big enough pot to dip the whole pig at once? I have a horse trough waiting for future use, and can picture it over a fire to heat water.
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Re: Hog Killin on December 29th

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:06 pm

Thanks for the Blow by Blow account of your exciting day George. I agree that the process is not a one man job. Having some older experienced gentlemen to help guide your 1st attempt is so helpful. Going in blind so to speak makes everything seem so much harder. Having some guidance from someone who has been there and done that makes everything go so much smoother. I am glad that you had good helpers and good experienced teachers helping you. I have never done a hog, but I have butchers a few deer start to finish and I know the process always takes more time that you would think it should, ;) and it is always harder and more work, and more exhausting than you remember from the last time you did it. Your last words of advise were right on the money. Congrats on a Job well done.
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Re: Hog Killin on December 29th

Postby George Collins » Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:56 pm

Matt, yesterday certainly represents a milestone for me as well as our family. Yesterday, in retrospect seems almost surreal - dream like. There was that massive emotional as well as material build up, the coordinating with so many others, playing ol-time farmer simultaneous to Victorian host all the while serving in the father/husband role to several children and a wife that had become attached to The One Pig. Then, yesterday morning, with the report of a rifle, it was game-time. I liken it to being the owner of a company that has entrusted the running of that company to another while simultaneously working as a low level employee.

We used two bone saws: one was a sawzall that the cajuns use to butcher their deer and the other was like that used by the Frenchman. The later is the only one I used.

Lolly, the reason the burlap was used was because that is what the director of operations decreed would be used. It's hard to do sometimes, but when one becomes a student of another, one must defer completely to their ways. If I were to direct a hog killin tomorrow, I don't know that I would use the burlap method. I would probably opt of dipping the carcass into a vat of preheated scald water. The burlap method worked like a charm in all of the large, regularly shaped areas. However, the limitations of the burlap method were all-to-obvious when dealing with irregular areas where the burlap was unable to maintain good surface area contact. Again, if I were going to direct a hog killin tomorrow, this would be the set-up:


Image

At the end of the day yesterday, I was left with four coolers full of meat. Today was the day the cure was to be applied. My original intent was to cure the whole carcass minus the ribs. That was a pipe dream. The butchering job was not accomplished early well enough to accomplish this. There were lots of peices and parts left over that did not seem well suited to curing so we are going to try making sausage tomorrow as well as cooking out the lard.

That said, we did put more of this carcass into cure than any hog we've had processed before. Part of the reason for this is The One Pig was meant to put as many questions to the test as possible. Toward that end:
- One ham and one shoulder are being cured in straight sea salt
- One ham and one shoulder are being cured with sea salt and brown sugar in a 2:1 ratio
- All of the belly and the all of the parts that will ultimately be pork chops (minus one pork chop we cut out fresh yesterday) are being cured with Morton Tender Quick.
- He was left intact to determine if doing so would negative affected the taste of his meat.(and as reported earlier, he is a VERY tasty pig with absolutely no trace of boar taint.)*

Youngblood skins his hams and shortens them down to the head of the femur. We did that with the ham that is is being cured in the salt-sugar blend.
The ham being cured in straight sea salt was left entire and none of the skin was removed. The hope here is that this one ham will ultimately taste akin to Jamon Iberico de Belotta. Even if not, I want to know from first hand experience that straight sea salt is a viable method for producing well-cured hams that taste really good.

*There were nay-sayers aplenty all the way up till the moment the taste test was performed. Once the sample was served up, there were no more naysayers. Therein lies more than one lesson - old folks don't always know what they are talking about.

As an aside, as we were prettying up the meat today before putting the bacons into cure, I think I may have discovered this cut of meat: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/iberico-de-bellota-pork-skirt-steak-secreto/

Sounds tasty don't it?
"Solve world hunger, tell no one." "The, the, the . . . The Grinch!"

"If you can't beat them, bite them."
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Re: Hog Killin on December 29th

Postby matt walker » Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:56 pm

I'll say it again George, congratulations are definitely in order. I understand the milestone, although the whole family thing takes it to a level I'm not on yet. I really appreciate the feeling and values attached to the way you present it. I know I'd put that weight on it myself, as each small homestead milestone teaches me so much about myself. Hard to beat the feeling of personal growth from stuff like this, the endless learning curve of this lifestyle is so very rewarding to me. Congrats man.

I remember the skirt steak from the French chef vid you posted. Looks great, like belly/loin/steak thing. Sounds divine.
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