Sunday, November 18, 2007

Old Pork Processing Method

Here is some nice old material on preserving pork. As I've mentioned, wet curing is particularly easy:

"The great utility of this method of curing consists in the certainty of the meat keeping in good condition for years in any climate. The blood gets all drained out of the meat before it is barreled, and hence one great cause of injury is avoided. I saw pork and beef which had been two years in the barrel, which was as sweet as when first put up, and the brine was perfectly clear. The large hogs, or heavy pork, which is uniformly cut in six-pound pieces, is packed in tierces, and is then called India or navy pork. The four-pound pieces are put in barrels."

If you look at that material, there are a few interesting things about how people used to keep pigs:

  • They used to kill them at 16 months. Typical hogs are now killed at 5-6 months. The ones Wooly Pigs is killing are 12 or months. Older hogs are fatter and taste better - but you've got a lot more money in that hog. Hogs fattened for pork or for curing were fed differently.
  • Hogs ate porridge. These days they just get food ground to a powder. The point is the same - give the hog easily digestable food so that it can put on weight. It is unthinkable that you'd be cooking hogs food in 2007. It sounds like an incredible amount of labor.
  • There was almost no "fresh meat". People ate the organs after slaughter, but most of the meat got put up.
  • The hogs back then were tremendously more lardy. Most hogs were raised for their fat.

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