The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Food & crafts => Food processing => Topic started by: Norfolk Newby on August 30, 2009, 03:40:46 pm

Title: Processing Pork
Post by: Norfolk Newby on August 30, 2009, 03:40:46 pm
I have only tried this 'domestically' and don't keep pigs. However, you might find these ideas worth trying.

I use belly pork to produce a sort of salami and filleted leg of pork to make a dried ham.

The belly pork is minced (coarse mincing is best, I think) and to it you can add whole pepper corns or juniper berries. The mince mix is then formed into a fat sausage about 10cm diameter and 25cm long (longer if you can manage, see below). I do this by placing the semi-formed sausage on a sheet of grease proof paper and rolling it up. The paper then forms a 'skin' which can stay on the sausage through the subsequent processing.

The sausage (or several) is then placed in a box of dry salt for 4 to 7 days (longer is more certain but the results are saltier). The box is kept in a cold place (fridge). After the required time, brush off the salt and place the sausage in clean wood ash. Return the sausage in ash to the cold place. Keep it in ash for at least 3 months but change the ash at least every month until the sausage has full dried.

The sausage will shrink by 40% of its original diameter. Before slicing and eating remove the ash using a dry brush and peel as much of the paper as possible. The finished products need to be kept in the fridge and will dry further if kept there. They may become too hard to slice if kept for a long period.

With a leg of pork, salt for at least a week, possibly 10 days. Then place in ash as with the sausage. You can also do this with pieces of belly pork but the result in thin strips of dried ham which look cheap but are good with salad or in a sandwich. Belly pork needs at least 3 months in ash and leg of pork needs 4-6 months.

The size of the sausages (their length) and the pieces of pork is controlled by how large a box you can safely store in your fridge or similar cold place.

You need a wood burning stove or similar source of ash to use this technique as the ash must be replaced regularly. It is important that the wood burnt in the stove is clean and has not been treated with chemicals or paint. The stove/fire should not have been used with coal or other solid fuel.

If the sausage/meat is not adequately salted or the ash not changed regularly, it may grow mold on it when it should be thrown way.

I developed this technique based on what French farmers do to store/save pork when they have an animal slaughtered.

There is significant shrinkage with both products so the initial size is misleading. The resulting meat is dark red rather than pink as the dried meat absorbs potassium nitrate from the ash (also know as potash) which acts as a preservative. Commercial sausage/ham makers can buy this chemical to mix into the meat but it is the basis for explosives and can't be bought by us lesser mortals.

Salt used in these processes can be saved and dried in the oven before re-using. It will discolour in the oven and set in a lump but can be reduced to powder. I use the end of a piece of wood to pound the lumps in a bowl until I have grains of salt again which are then stored in a sealed box to keep them dry till needed again.

I err on the safe side when salting the meat and accept fairly salty products. I tried reducing the salting time and then found mold growing on the meat which meant it was dumped.

These are slow processes and I can't guarantee the products. But if you like to try something different, you might like the results.

Title: Re: Processing Pork
Post by: marigold on October 21, 2009, 11:44:21 pm
Wow that sounds great. I am definitely going to try a salami. The wood ash idea is lovely.  :yum:
Title: Re: Processing Pork
Post by: clydesdaleclopper on October 27, 2009, 02:04:52 pm
There is a website that explains why some pork will go sour. Something to do with the type of fat, stress and how long the meat is hung