Knowing where your meat comes from...

Discussion in 'Pork' started by mikedacarpenter, Oct 16, 2016.

  1. Disclaimer...If you don't want to know where your food comes from, then STOP reading right now. This will also be picture heavy...

    Seeing as I'm going to Alaska, in the near future, to hunt bears with my longbow and wood arrows, I thought it would be best to get in some skinning and butchering since it had been a couple years since skinning my last bear. So, I contacted my friend, who raises pigs for the 4-H (simply cannot beat the meat quality) and told him what I was wanting to do. We agreed on a price and my son and I got to WORK. I have skinned and butchered guide a few large game animals, but never a domestic hog. The amount and quality of the meat I got from this hog was very impressive and will be enjoyed by family and friend for many meals to come.

    Started out with a 305# Berkshire hog.

    After slaughtering and removing the innards (I'll save the pics and details of those two processes), I got to work with skinning the hog. Yes, hanging the animal would make the process MUCH easier to skin and cut into major cuts, but I won't have that privilege while in the Alaskan Wilderness, so the work was completed as if I were skinning a bear on the ground.

    After skinning one side, I put a piece of house wrap down, to protect the freshly skinned side, and rolled the hog over to be able to skin the other side. Once skinned, and head and trotters removed, I broke the hog down into manageable pieces (we call it "Quartering").

    Here I am removing one of the Hams.

    Yeah, this Ham was HUGE. Later, when butchering, I opted to cut the Hams into 4 roasts and a hock each, instead of curing into one giant ham.

    Once the hog was "Quartered" and put into coolers with ice, I let the meat to cool down till the next day, while continuing to add ice to facilitate proper cooling. The whole time the drain plugs were open to allow the melted ice to flow out.

    The next morning, I got to work butchering. One thing I know for sure, is that I will NEVER make money as a "Production" butcher. My cuts are probably unorthodox, but they work for me and My family, and that's what matters most to me.

    Just one of the Backstraps, or if you prefer...boneless Chops.

    My oldest, and I, on the "Grind Line". We ended up with 57# of grind (25# of which became breakfast sausage). Total amount of meat was 171#. Everything was boneless, except the 4 Hocks.

  2. I started curing the bacon last Sunday. I'll save you the details on my bacon "process".

    I had this Friday off, so I decided I wanted an outdoor "Kitchen" for my 22.5 WSM, so I built a place to call My Kitchen. Now my wife is wanting to know when here INSIDE kitchen is going to get done. HA!!!

    Time to smoke the bacon.

    The only thing left, is to slice, bag and put the bacon in the freezer (Of course this will happen AFTER cooking some for breakfast). Which I will be doing as soon as I'm done typing this.

    I had a dilemma of how to wrap the pork to freeze it, and since I don't have a vacuume sealer, I opted for Ziplock freezer bags, since I don't have a local supplier of butcher paper that is wider than 15". I figure that with two growing boys, this meat won't have time to get freezer burned.

    I'll say that this bacon tastes better than the Costco pork bellies I have turned into bacon just a few weeks ago.

    Thank you for following along. It is very rewarding doing the entire process yourself
  3. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks great! Get to eating you have to free up freezer space for that bear!

  4. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Everything looks great!

  5. mike w

    mike w Smoking Fanatic

    Great post! How did you like the flavor of the Berkshire and did it have a good amount of fat?
  6. Thank you for the kind words.

    As for the hog, there wasn't a huge amount of fat. It seemed to be MUCH meatier than stuff we buy at the grocery store. We haven't ate much, but from what we have had, I'd say it was money well spent for a better quality product.
  7. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Now this brings back some memories of my childhood for sure.

    Good plan to ground prep the critter to "haul out", gives you an idea of how to move the critter around.

    I'll bet the flavor of the student raised pork is also much better than store bought.

    I'm with Case, you need to make room for the bear meat!

    Point for showing the process and also for involving the kiddos!
  8. gearjammer

    gearjammer Master of the Pit

    Good showing of how the processing is done.

    I think not a lot of folks know how it works today.

    It's always better when it's privately raised.

    Point for you Sir.

  9. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    Fantastic post!
    Good hunting in Alaska!
  10. bdskelly

    bdskelly Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Wonderful post Mike.  My home is also on a working ranch. Its nice to become familiar with your food. Right? b
  11. akdutchguy

    akdutchguy Meat Mopper

    We raise our own meat cows, chickens, and pigs. My son has a severe corn allergy and everything it seems has corn or corn product in it. The meat is far superior than store bought. So far we are still coming in ahead vs store cost. I just got a organic grass fed angus bull finished out at 4.50 a pound. Fresh meat is the only way to go. Where are you going hunting in Alaska ?
  12. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    No matter how you cut it... it's still better than store bought...   Good job...  Thanks for the post.....Dave
  13. sky monkey

    sky monkey Smoke Blower

    Really enjoyed the post Mike, good on you for raising a hard workin' boy.  Point!
  14. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Great post,looks like you had fun with the pig! Good luck on your hunt.
  15. weekendbbqguy

    weekendbbqguy Newbie

    "Simply cannot beat the meat process " is a great line!
  16. uncle eddie

    uncle eddie Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Points from a hunter that butchers his own game.  Nice pictorial.

    P.S. - I am still too lazy to make my own brats, sticks, sausage, etc.  I bring that meat to the professionals [​IMG]
  17. ahumadora

    ahumadora Smoking Fanatic

    Great post, many BBQer's don't know how to butcher an animal.

    I grew up on the farm and remember skinning cows and pigs when I was about 6.

    My wife gave me a piglet for christmas a few years ago and I raised it for 6 months.

    Needless to say I had to tell my young daughter her pet pig went on vacation and we don't know when she is due back :)
  18. akdutchguy

    akdutchguy Meat Mopper

    We never give the animals human names. I usually name them for a cut of meat or the holiday at which they will be consumed.
  19. Great post Mike. I've helped mom and pop process wild game as well pork and beef since I was a kid. My kids have no idea what's involved but my son is now interested in hunting big game so I guess I might have to step up and help him out
  20. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What a great thread! Nicely done, Sir.



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