so we bought a whole pig. (Warning, this post has pictures of pork, some of which look quite pig-like)
We bought a pig in the past which worked out very well. We didn’t know how to cut it up though so we froze it, and then the guy at the meat market sliced it with his band saw, turning the entire pig into slices. This time we decided to learn how to cut up the pork ourselves.
My good friend Yaira has a brother who raises pigs. I contacted her thinking it would be weeks of waiting for pigs to get to the proper size, but she contacted me back in a hour to say the pork would arrive the next day at midday! So, at the appointed time, here she comes with her brother in a truck, and in the back is a trash can of ice containing a pig in four pieces. (you can order it whole, cut in half, or in quarters. You also get the feet and head. Joel didn’t want the head though, so I gave it to Yaira. Maybe next time we will tackle that.)
This pig was four months old and the meat weighed 120 pounds. It’s something to think a piglet is born and fed and cared for, and in only four months you have that much meat! We also learned that this farmer raises cows, chickens, fruits, and vegetables, all without chemicals and hormones and the animals are fed natural, healthy food. The pork is $2.50/lb, and the chickens are $1.50/lb. You can get cheaper prices but I’d rather get good quality organic meat and chicken, and support a friend and local farmer.
We put 3/4 of the meat in the fridge and proceeded to tackle the other quarter. Thank goodness for google and youtube, and some basic instruction from the farmer. We knew there would be a learning curve but now that we are done, we are very proud of ourselves. And, instead of everything in slices, we have ribs, tenderloins, roasts, pork belly, and soup bones.
We learned that the tenderloin is found behind the ribs along the backbone. This is where you get pork chops, or you can have tenderloin and ribs. We chose the latter. Attached to the ribs is the pork belly that is used for bacon. We baked some of it with the ribs last night and it just might be the best part of the pig. It was SO good. The fat cooks out leaving very tender meat that is really delicious. Speaking of fat, this pig had much less fat overall than the other pigs we bought.
The legs are used for hams, but since we don’t plan to cure the meat and do whatever is needed for hams, we cut them into roasts and soup bones. The front legs are big but the back ones are huge. We have lots of roasts! Scraps are used for sausage but since we don’t know what we are doing, we probably included things in our cuts that are usually put aside. We ended up with only one quart container of scraps which are delicious just sauteed in the frying pan with a bit of salt and seasoning. (We have been making our own breakfast sausage with ground turkey from Pricesmart, much easier than grinding pork so we don’t need sausage meat).
We spent all Saturday afternoon on the front pieces, and then Sunday afternoon on the back pieces. By the time we were done we were very proud of ourselves. Each quarter went faster as we learned and gained confidence, and I think we have some excellent meat that will last us all year.
Sunday night we had ribs for dinner! On yes they were good, very good.
The freezer is quite full but probably in a month or two I’ll be putting in an order for chickens. He also drives his truck around selling fruits and vegetables but I’m too attached to our current produce guy to change anything.
We have experiences here we never would have had in the US. Meeting the farmer and cutting up your own meat is very different from a plastic wrapped package from the supermarket. I’m glad to be here for so many reasons.