Pastured Pork is Ready Just in Time for Fall and Thanksgiving
“Back in the day…”
Grace and Faith sometimes roll their eyes when I start to tell stories about the good old days, when things were done differently, and usually better. But, back in the day, in this area of Stedman and Fayetteville North Carolina, local farmers raised hogs on pasture and then processed them for pork in the fall of the year.
In late fall–November and December–the chilly air was just right to aid in what was a large task. Butchering and cutting pork is not an easy job. At that time of year, many of the other harvest tasks had been completed and families or neighbors would have more time to get together to butcher hogs. A killing frost would have taken care of any flies or other insects that could spread disease and spoil the meat.
The heritage hogs farmers of that era raised were also much more fatty than modern hogs and were known as lard hogs. The cooler air would keep the fat from softening too much, leaving more fat for adding to sausage, making lard, etc. Also, once the hog was processed, the meat was often salted, hung and cold smoked for dried sausage and country style ham, and that weeks-long process was better done during the winter months when farmers didn’t have to worry about warmer temperatures spoiling the meat.
Now, pork processing is done in inspected facilities that are kept very cool, and can be done year round. That’s a good thing, except that so much of the hog no longer gets used and is sent as animal protein for other by-products.
Still, it great to know that our pork has been processed, inspected and certified and meets the highest standards.
Our hogs are a cross between 2 types of heritage breed hogs: the Large Black (50%) and the Tamworth (25%), and a Berkshire (25%). The reason for the cross is to achieve what animal experts call hybrid vigor, a way to get the best of the different breeds. In this case, the Large Black/Tamworth traits ensure a long hog (think bacon) that roots for food very well and has a flavorful, darker meat, and the Berkshire trait of large hams and shoulders. Our pigs have reached a weight between 240-300 lbs. They are raised in woodland pasture where they dig for roots, acorns and hickory nuts, and are supplemented with enough feed, left overs from the garden, extra eggs and any un-used milk to ensure they are growing properly.
The meat from these hogs is tender and darker than the pork you would normally find in a supermarket. It is well marbled and juicier than the dry pork you may be used to. Of course, cooking technique makes all the difference, and this pork, brined and seasoned well and then grilled, smoked or roasted yields an excellent meat that we think is absolutely delicious.
If you are interested in pastured pork, raised locally here in the Fayetteville, NC area, please call or email and let us know. We can sell whole, half or individual cuts of meat as well as bulk and link breakfast and Italian sausage, bratwurst and a bulk chorizo sausage with a wonderful, not-too-hot flavor, perfect for making soup.