Home Hog Processing

process 14

As stated in the sister post to this one (Hobbyist Hog Harvest), when processing meat without the aid of refrigerated facilities, outdoor temperatures become a most important consideration to assure best possible product results.  The hogs were chilled and cut within a 2 day window of high 20’s to high 30’s F. temperatures.  Cold-shortening or thaw-rigor (do a computer search for these terms, if need be) should not cause meat toughness issues when processing hogs the next day because the on-set of porcine rigor mortis occurs within 3 hours of death.  These 2 hogs were slaughtered on New Years day at around 9:00 AM and their tenderloins became very good holiday meal centerpieces for 4 different households that evening.

process 13

Hog sides are easy to break by saw cutting across the 3rd rib at a right angle to the backbone, by measuring 2 1/2 inches anterior to the tip of the Aitch (hip) bone then sawing at a right angle to the back bone and by sawing across the ribs below the loin-eye muscle.  Once bones are sawn through a knife should be used to complete cut separations.  A meat saw is also needed if the shoulder is to be separated into picnic and butt roasts, approximately 1 inch ventral to the exposed edge of the blade bone.  After saw cutting the baby back ribs from the chine bone/backbone (and after the boneless loin is pulled) the remaining fabrication can be done using knives.  Keep the knife tip close to bones so as to not gouge cuts during muscle-boning.  Also, be careful not to cut through the costal cartilages of the spareribs when separating them from fresh-sides.

process 12

Shown here are trimmings for sausage,  a separated shoulder roast, a fresh side for bacon production and spareribs.

process 15

The off-color appearance of the meat in this picture is due to vapor lights and the boneless loin being somewhat less than fully chilled.  These chops went into the freezer the day after hog harvest, and were of high quality when some were cooked & eaten 2 days later.

process 11

Trimmings were around the optimal 80% visual lean.  Fattest appearing pork was sorted out and ground through a 3/16 inch hole size plate.  Fat component was then mixed with the lean by periodically dropping some of it back through the grinder as lean strips were ground.  This practice resulted in fat being ground twice; while the lean component was only ground once.  A 3/16 inch plate was used for both grinds.

process 9

process 8

The  correct amount of sodium phosphate was dissolved in water then poured nearly equally over 96 pounds of ground pork which had been divided into 2 different meat lugs.  Next, fat and sodium phosphate was uniformly mixed throughout by fisting (making a fist and repeatedly pushing down in a lug of ground meat) and by throwing the ground product back and forth between 4 meat lugs.  Blended meat was then weighed-out into the 4 lugs so that each contained the same amount.  4 different sausage spice pre-mixes, intended for seasoning 25 pounds each, were dissolved in water then 1 of them was mixed into each lug of grind.  Hand-mixing continued until each batch took-on a somewhat sticky consistency.

process 6

The least spicy and/or seedy spice mix batch was stuffed 1st; so what was leftover could be mixed unnoticeably into the next least spicy batch.  While we were set-up to do so efficiently, all sausage was stuffed into 32 – 35 mm natural hog casings.  Links thaw quicker than bulk packaged sausage and links are easily stripped of casings when bulk sausage is called-for.

process 5

Sausage casings should be stuffed to the point where they are full, but no tighter.  Link by pinching-off 2 lengths at a time then spinning the link between your hands.

process 3

Cut links ready to be tightly packaged for freezer storage.

process 2

process 1

2 hams were boned and 2 were left bone-in.  All were pumped then put down in brine for 5 days.  Brining coolers were kept in a garage.  Temperatures were monitored daily and adjustments were made to keep hams & cured fresh sides between freezing (freezing point of brine is in the low 20F range) and 40F.  Both products were overhauled (turned) once a day during the brine holding period.

processing 16

Boneless hams were seamed-out between muscles to form 3 separate pieces.  Since I did not have a tumbler to extract muscle proteins and because I had to stuff hams into fibrous casings by hand (did not have a roast stuffing horn), it was expected that the finished product would not bind into one piece.  Into the Wolfer Smoke-Cooker they went for an 18 hour cook to 152F internal.  Cooker temps were maintained between 160 and 200F for an average of 180.

processing 15

Rinsed-off boneless hams upon smoke-cooker removal.

processing 12

Chilled and casing stripped boneless ham.

processing 17

Finished homemade boneless ham.

processing 13

As I had guessed would happen, due to the slow stick we got on both hogs, the hams were somewhat blood-shot/blood-splashed.  Blood-shot is only an appearance issue, wholesomeness is not affected.

processing 18

My brother and nephew fabricated their own smokehouse, using a livestock watering trough as a base.  All 4 slabs of bacon were hung & smoked at once in it.

processing 20

Finished slab of bacon.

processing 19

A little slicer picked up at a yard sale for $2.

processing 21

Here are the fully-cooked bone-in hams.

If you are interested in seeing the slaughter & dressing post click here.

The 14th edition of The Meat We Eat, published in 2001 and containing 1111 pages, was used as an information resource for this hog harvest processing project.  The 15th edition seems to be overdue, I hope it is being worked on.

processing 22

3 weeks after harvesting the first 2 hogs we did 2 more.  The second time around more sausage was made; including 33 pounds of cured and smoked garlic sausage.  The recipe I used for making boneless ham made the end-product overly salty.  Most of that ham was used for making white bean soup where diced pieces were added toward the end of cooking.  No other salt was added to the soup so after salt equalized between the ham and broth the batches turned out to be very good.







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