Friday, March 25, 2011

Bringing Home The Bacon...& Sausage

We ordered sausage seasonings today in anticipation of trying our hands at our own meat processing late next week. From Columbia Spice company we ordered hot sausage seasoning (for packages of sausage - think Jimmy Dean 1-lb chubs), sweet Italian and hot Italian seasonings. We used the Columbia Spice brands for the sausage last year and loved them. I wasn't a sausage person before we made our own last year and didn't expect to become one, but, oh my goodness, my friends were right when they told us there is nothing like fresh sausage. You have to try it for yourself to begin to understand it. Yum.

I'm still searching for a bacon brining solution. We weren't thrilled with the flavoring we used for the last bacon, so we'll take a stab at another variety this time. We weren't very happy with our homemade hams, either; while I'm looking forward to learning how to cure ham eventually, I'm not going to be able to tackle it this year. So, we'll use the ham pieces and a few of the roasts for canned pork, instead, which is so flavorful and convenient to have in your pantry. (If anyone knows of a good bacon seasoning product, by the way, I'd sure appreciate hearing about it.)

As I've mentioned before, we were thrilled with the quality and flavor of the pork we raised last year (ham and bacon being the exception due to the flavorings we used, not the quality of the meat.) We are eager to enjoy and share the pork that will soon be coming our way, especially in light of the ever-increasing costs of store-bought pork that is shockingly low on flavor. I can't believe the way I had to doctor a flavorless pork roast lately in order to bring any savor to the pot of green chile I was making from it.

My Grandma Potts introduced me to canned pork when I was a young girl, and I haven't had it since my early teens, when I moved away from Grandma's pantry. The memory of how good that pork was has stayed with me, though, and I can't wait to try it again. We do enjoy ham around here, so I'm disappointed we won't be curing our own. Knowing prices may simply keep going up, Mom and I are going to buy some extra Easter hams while they're on sale next month, and I'll can them, using a method I just read about early this week. I like the idea of having meal-sized portions of ham, instead of having to figure out how to use up all the leftovers of a full-sized ham each time I bake one. I'll share the canning recipe and the results after Easter, for those who might be picking up a few extra hams of their own.
The man we purchased our pigs from this year offered to butcher them for us, but let us know several weeks ago that pressing responsibilities had arisen that wouldn't allow him to help, after all. We certainly understand how that goes. The last time we processed pigs, our friends who had some experience, tools and a book on butchering helped us. We're not going to ask them to guide us through the process this year, however, because one of their little guys, a 3-yr-old cutie pie named Diesel (yes, you read that right), just had brain surgery a week or so ago and I'm disinclined to ask anything of that preoccupied family at this time.
So, Mike and I are going to go it alone. And, actually, we did ask to borrow our friends' butcher knives. But other than that, we're going to process these big fellas on our own, enlisting whichever kids are interested in pitching in. We'll haul the pigs over to the butcher next week, he'll slaughter them and chill their carcasses for three days, then we'll pick them up and set to work.
I'm going to ask the butcher to save the fat so we can make lard, and I'll be sure to let you know how that process goes, too. I'm a little intimidated, I have to say. I don't know why - probably just the thought of dealing with all that hot grease. Still, I'm going to forge ahead and hope I complete the process unscarred.

Now, I have to go take a pick axe to the chest freezer so we can get it cleared out to welcome all that fresh, flavorful meat soon. Then, I guess I better check the library for a picture book on butchering.

Love from the farm,

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