What to make with a whole pig

We butchered our first pig on Monday. It was a monumental task, and we learned loads during the whole process. This is our attempt to document what we set out to achieve, how that went and what we learned from it, so we can remember for the next time as it will be a whole year before we have to do this again.

The first decision we had to make was how we wanted our pig butchered. British butchery seems to be about preserving major cuts of meat on the bone to make tasty roasting joints, hams and bacon. Bulgarian style butchery seems to be more about getting as much meat off the carcass as quickly as possible to turn into sausages, mince, and also jarring the meat, which is something we didn’t want to do. That said, as our butchery skills are as yet untested, we decided to go for Bulgarian style as it seemed simpler and probably quicker then English style.

We spent the week before the kill-day preparing our kitchen, gathering tools and equipment, and making a detailed plan of what we hoped to achieve each day. We planned for the whole process to take four days, during which time we would make some dishes and pork products, and freeze some joints for later processing; we didn’t want to commit huge quantities of our valuable meat to untried methods and recipes.

Timetable for butchering a whole pig

Our timetable went something like this;

Day 1

  • Prepare cures for bacon, large ham
  • Prepare brine for large ham
  • Prepare kitchen and outside butchery areas

Day 2

  • Kill pig, butcher and chill all parts
  • Prepare head and boil for making brawn
  • Make blood pudding. We couldn’t find any cream to make a traditional Yorkshire black pudding, so we went for a Bulgarian recipe for Kurvavitsa.

Day 3

  • Put ham in dry cure
  • Put ham in wet cure
  • Put 1 belly in bacon cure, freeze the other
  • Clean all stored pieces
  • Pick meat off head, pack and press for brawn
  • Make faggots

Day 4

  • Prepare shoulder roast, freeze
  • Prepare loin chops, freeze
  • Prepare ribs and freeze
  • Cut up remaining meat for mince
  • Make sausages
  • Make salami

Day 5

  • Make mince and sausages
  • Render lard

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  7 comments for “What to make with a whole pig

  1. November 22, 2015 at 7:47 am

    Thanks Julie and Joe! That was an interesting read. You’re right about the villagers, but we’re all learning! It will be great to see you both at Christmas.

  2. November 22, 2015 at 8:39 am

    Hi Julie, great post. Did you scrape off the bristles and if so, how did you do it?

    • Joe
      November 22, 2015 at 9:43 am

      Hi! Stefan skinned the pig while it was hanging. He says removing the bristles is a lengthy task, so we didn’t do it this time round. Next time I’ll ask him to remove the bristles. I think he uses a blow-torch, from what I could understand, but I’m not sure how he does that! For the feet and ears I blackened the skin and bristles with the blowtorch then scrubbed them off with a pan scourer.

  3. Alan & mum
    November 22, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    This was very interesting reading, & we are full of admiration for what you have achieved. It will be interesting to learn how long this bounty will last. Did you freeze the things you made in to portion sizes or will you be sawing off the amounts of mince, for example, that you require?

    • Joe
      November 22, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      We’ve got a mixture: mince is frozen into portion sizes, about 1lb bags. Some large joints are left to see what we need them for, hams, bacon, mince or diced meat. Julie and I both agreed that we see meat in a different way now. Because of the effort that has gone into producing what we’ve got, raising the pig, slaughtering and butchering, we feel much more frugal with it. This meat will have to last us a year, so if we run out we’re not buying any more. Suddenly we see the sense of many peasant recipes, which are basically trying to stretch the meat as far as it will go!

  4. November 23, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Well done Joe and Julie.

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