Sunday, 24 January 2016

Butchering Days

As the sun was rising in the sky early last Saturday morning, the water was boiling in the old copper and we were in full pig processing mode.

After killing, the pig is immersed in this bath of hot water before lifting onto the trestle table where we scrape all of the outer layer of skin and hair off the carcass.
When it is clean, it's time for Brian to take the innards from the pig. We saved the heart and liver, which will be made into a stew for the dogs. The head was also saved for the meat in the cheeks, but the other parts of the head will also be made into dog food.
Yes, I did try to make brawn once or twice. It was a lot of effort, but we really didn't enjoy it, and the dogs need to eat too.
In fact nothing at all has been wasted, except the squeal..! (Sorry, you would have heard that many times before but I just had to put that in.

After cutting the carcass in half for easier handling, we hung it in our cold room for a week.
When we had cleaned up and put everything away, Brian slaughtered an old wether (male desexed sheep) which hung next to the pig in the cool room all week.
We planned on making pork and mutton sausages with some of the fatty parts of both animals.

Yesterday morning (Saturday, one week later) we cut up the pork into roasts and chops. There is a lot of meat on one of our home grown pigs and we will take ten to twelve months to get through it all. To avoid freezer taint, I pack most of it with the vacuum sealer, and the remainder is packed in plastic freezer bags, making sure we consume those bags first.
We saved the bellies for making sausages.
Then we repeated the whole process to cut up the mutton, although there is not so much meat on a sheep and we will get through that in the next month or so. I saved on the cost of bags by packing the mutton roasts and chops into recycled bread bags and cheap freezer bags.
We saved the flap for making sausages and while I was packing the meat into freezers, Brian was de-boning meat for the mincer.

First we minced the pork meat which contained a perfect amount of fat for sausage making where we aim for a 25% fat ratio. Then we minced the fatty flap meat from the mutton before returning all of the minced meat to the cold room in separate large stainless bowls. For sausage making, everything has to be kept super chilled.

We made a few different varieties of sausages using all of our own blends of spices and home grown herbs, sun-dried tomatoes and onions.
We love sausages, but don't love the commercial (and mostly artificial) ingredients that they contain when purchased from a butcher or supermarket.
The casings were purchased on line and are made from pig intestines.

We started at 9am and by 5pm we had the freezers packed and the sausages hanging in the cold room to "set" overnight. It was a huge day, but so very rewarding. We even had fun!
My facial expressions whilst perfecting my sausage winding skills were apparently quite amusing and a photo or two was clicked. No way they are going onto this page though!
This morning I've packed all of the 21 kilograms of sausages into meal size packs. Some in plastic freezer bags and some in vacuum seal bags, which we will eat last.
I wonder how long these will last?
Do you re-use your vacuum seal bags? I do.
They are quite expensive, although I buy them much cheaper on-line. I can usually get two or three uses from one bag by cutting open carefully at the very end, close to the seal.  Wash carefully in warm soapy water, rinse well, allow to dry. They get smaller with each use.
The varieties we made are;
Hot Italian,
Sundried Tomato with onion and herbs,
Sally's Special with caraway seeds, chives etc,
Sweet Curry.

Guess what's for dinner tonight?


  1. Oh your sausages look amazing! And what a lovely layer of fat you have on your pigs.

    You cant go wrong with a beautiful, thick pork chop!

    Do you make bacon, prosciutto and ham as well? We have messed about before but not recently, as these days we don't have easy access to pork as we did when Grant managed piggeries.

    I'm jealous of your set up! haha! But mind you with the kids it would be difficult to get done in a day. Not impossible but it would be more fun to focus all your energy on it.

    We made a smoked sausages with a Portuguese friend once but we did that in winter. It had to be cool for sausage making. :)

    I remember once delivering the entire pig directly on to her kitchen table for her to process! I was expecting a meat hook but she did it all on the table. :)


    1. Always a big relief to find that the pig is not too fat, but has a good layer. We make bacon Emma (see post from last year on how to make bacon without nitrates.) We'll be making bacon next month with the bellies from the remaining two pigs.

  2. Wow what a big day! We don't have a cold room, but its on the wish list so we can do this too. I only reuse the bags that have had dried goods or fruit. Now I know that you reuse them I will give it a try as it feels so wasteful to throw them out after one use....

    1. The cold room sure makes life easier. Brian made the walls from unwanted panels being thrown out, made the door too, then we bought a new refrigeration unit to sit on the top. That was the big expense, but still way cheaper than buying even a second hand cold room. Is a good size, not too large, perfect for our needs. Fits six sheep carcasses or a beef.

  3. Butchering days are very long. I've been lucky to have participated in a few at a neighbours house. They taught me how to wind sausages and I think I too had some funny facial expressions!
    Great idea about re using the vac pack bags! They are expensive just to use once.

    1. Occasionally the plastic bags don't seal the second, or third time around. Small holes appear that can't be seen with the naked eye. However, you will soon know when the vacuum sealer doesn't seal the bag. Then I throw it out and start again with a new bag or another used one.

  4. Ah! My folks used to butcher off the back of the tractor too - brings bake memories. By the end of the day you get heartily sick of the smell of raw meat hey?!

    1. The actual butchering doesn't take long at all. A pig takes us two hours from beginning to end. Brian does the sheep in approx forty five minutes. The cutting up only takes a short while now that we've got it all worked out. The butcher's saw makes it all really fast. However, the boning out, mincing, mixing up my sausage concoctions and filling the skins takes the time. We've sure learned lots over the past twelve years and gradually collected the pieces of equipment to make it all easier. The tractor is something we just could not do without. :)

  5. Great job guys. Always such a wonderful feeling when it's all done. My mouth is watering looking at your pork, so I just had to take a roast out of the freezer for our dinner. Looking forward to opening my first Kombucha tomorrow Sally. Thanks for the scoby & your easy to follow recipe. I added ginger to it, and it appears to have some fizz. The next lot that I made has xylitol instead of sugar.(because of my way of eating now) I have a spare scoby, so if it fails it doesn't matter. Also thanks for the tip re. using the vacuum bags more than once. Isn't it wonderful when two like minded souls get together & learn from each other. I think that the man is getting sick of me saying "Sally does this" & "Sally does that"!!! Have a gorgeous day. :)


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