Pork Butchery: What we Learned

Mr. M. has long been the meat cutting expert in our little farm share. When we recently purchased a pig he was excited to move into pork butchery. The experience has expanded our skill repertoire. However, our popular post 5 Helpful Butchering Tips to Read Before Getting Started is still applicable for pork butchery.

In Mr. M’s words

I finally got my hands on a dead pig—that sounds weird.  It’s funny what I get excited about these days. Remember, this is coming from someone who spent the first 20 years of life in the city playing video games and chasing girls. I am a self-taught amateur home butcher and have really begun to enjoy the variety and cultural learning that meat cutting has provided. I have done a number of sheep, cows, and deer and have been waiting for a chance to try pork butchery.  Well today was the day.

A few things to note that are significantly different when butchering a hog are the length of the mid section, higher amount of fat, and smaller front shoulder blades.  They have the same basic anatomy but very different muscle proportions. This means some cuts are the same, but others do differ.

Learning our own pork butchery has given us a great opportunity for sustainable and flavourful meat.
Little bacons sure are cute

My pork butchery plan:  learn 2-3 new cuts

  • Bacon (home-smoked)
  • Full shoulder (feeds 25 people)
  • Chined pork chops (chops without the pokey bone at the top)
  • Back boneless ham (bone tunneled out, also home-smoked)

Once the pig was processed to hanging weight we let it hang for 6 days. Many things I read say to let in hang for up to 12 days for optimal tenderness. Different sites and people will say different things, which I think is one of the beautiful things about butchering; there seems to be no perfect way to do it every time. The good news is even if you “butcher” it
(excuse the pun) you will end up up with meat.

Here is the process of me doing a side.  It really didn’t take me long after I knew what I was going for.

Things we learned in pork butchery. Processing pork at home has given us a sustainable and flavourful source of local meat.

Share your thoughts?