What to make with a whole pig

Day 6 – Rendering lard

Almost finished! We got the lard rendered, but first of all it needed to be minced. Back to Julie and the mincer. We also rendered the suet fat, but I’m not convinced we got the right fat, as it’s not gone hard when set. The rendering took ages, and I don’t think we did it right. It overcooked, and went a bit dark in colour. More investigation is needed here! We took the brawn out of it’s mould for testing, cut it up and froze it.

Day 7 – Salting the ham

And finally, with all the other meat, fat, offal, processed and stored, I got time to make a box to salt the large ham in. Now we wait for four weeks, after which we will hang it to air dry for a few months. It may be ready for Easter!


Dry curing ham
Dry curing ham

Final thoughts

All in, we got about 100kg of meat from our one pig. We hadn’t fully appreciated how much meat this is, and were fairly unprepared for managing the sheer quantities we had. We will be much better prepared next time! We’ve got some more research to do about preparation methods, and may try a different style of butchery next time, as we’d like to end up with some neater looking joints for roasting and curing, and I’d like to try keeping the skin on the carcass for easier butchering. That said, we wanted to use as much of Richard, our pig, as we possibly could, and I think we’ve done pretty well in achieving this.

I hope this diary proves useful to someone else! It fills in some gaps that we were unable to find when we were researching.

As a final note, I am in total awe of the village Bulgarians, who manage all this in a matter of a few hours, from their tiny kitchens, tiny fridges and no freezers. Respect!

** Update – one year on, and we’ve learned a lot and butchered two more pigs **

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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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