This past weekend we got together for our annual hog butcher. We butchered 4 hogs that were approximately 250# apiece.
First, I will show you the setup for the butcher shop we made at my parents house, complete with walk in cooler.
I did not take pictures of the slaughter or skinning process as some people may not appreciate it. (and we were a little busy at the time). But, here is a shot of a 500# hog that a friend of ours butchered that weighed around 500#. They are usually butchered way before they get that big. This one was made solely into sausage.
Here is a shot of the 4 hogs hanging in the cooler the night before. They are already halved.
Now, I will show you how we cut these puppies up. Take one of the halves out of the cooler and set it on the butcher table.
The first thing we do is cut this section into three pieces. The front section will contain the picnic and butt roast. We start the cut between the 2nd and 3rd ribs and cut at a 90 degree angle so we actually cut through the 3rd rib.
The back section is where the ham is. We find the h bone and go 2 fingers distance away from it towards the center of the hog and again cut at a 90 degree angle towards the top. Start the cut with the knife but you will need the hand saw to get through the bone.
The middle section contains the bellies, ribs, and loin.
Now that the hog is cut into 3 sections, we are going to cut out the individual cuts. I started with the front section. This is where you get the picnic and the boston butt. Take that section to the meat saw and cut it at the bone.
In this picture, the picnic is on the left and is shaped like a cylinder. In order to roll this out, simply trim around the bone and follow the muscle group.
After the picnic is cut out, I then trim out the rest of the bone. You are left with a big chunk of meat that contains the butt and some other meat that we use for sausage.
Now, we go to my favorite section. The middle section contains the belly, ribs, and loin. The first thing I do is to trim out the ribs. Be careful not to go to deep as the belly is directly beneath the ribs and you will be taking away from the area where you will get bacon.
Once the ribs are out, I score a line across the width of the middle section. This cut will enable you to separate the belly from the loin area. Once I have that area scored, I take it over to the meat saw and separate the belly.
When the cut is done, put the belly aside as you will prep it for bacon later. The other half of the middle section that is remaining contains your loin. This is where you get your pork chops. Using the meat saw, I set the thickness of the chops I want and start cutting. In this case, I went with 1 ¼” thick bone in chops.
After you have cut out the chops, take them over to the butcher table and use the bone scraper to scrape off any loose bone dust and then trim up the fat on the chops to your particular taste and preference.
Now, it is time to move to the third section. This section contains the ham.
We took this section over to the meat saw and cut the ham at about the joint. At this point, you have a choice of cutting off a few nice ham steaks or taking a big ham. I went with the big ham.
Now that we are through the basic cutting, we are going to prepare our pork for packaging. The roasts and the pork chops are already to go. Just wrap in saran wrap and then cover in butcher paper, tape it shut, and put in the freezer.
Next up, it is time to make sausage. The sausage comes from all the meat that you trim off of the other cuts. You should include some fat in this mix. I ended up with close to 40# of meat to use for sausage. We put whatever seasoning we are going to use in the pan with the meat. I mix it around so all the meat has a chance to get seasoning and then I grind it up.
Once the meat is ground, we put it in the mixer, add a little water, and mix it further. This helps to avoid having globs of fat in your sausage. The mixer will mix the fat into the meat more evenly.
Once the meat is mixed, it is time to load the stuffer. This is a homemade water powered stuff that is extremely fast. It will hold about 25 pounds of meat.
We filled bags with the ground up sausage, taped them, and put them in the freezer.
I also decided to make a batch of brats. The process is the exact same as the sausage except I used different seasoning and instead of bags, I used 32-35mm natural casings.
Once these are done, decide how many you want in a package, wrap them in saran wrap and butcher paper, and then place in the freezer.
I am curing the bacon starting tonight so I don’t have pictures of that yet but there are about 1000 threads on here showing you how if you don’t know.
The last thing we have to do is the hams. They need to be brined. We made our own brine pump.
The brine process is fairly simple but very important. Here is the brine recipe for 60# of hams:
- 3 gallons ice water, 38-40 degrees F
- 1# 3.2 oz powdered dextrose
- 9.6 oz sure cure
- 2# 6.4 oz salt
We used a refrigeration scale to get real precise measurements. We mixed up this is this sprayer and injected the hams. It is very important to get them good, especially around the bone. The ham will look like it is about to burst when you fill it up with the brine.
Once all the brine is injected, use water to fill up the container until all of the hams are submerged.
Place the container in the cooler for approximately 7 days. After brining, the hams are removed from the brine and washed with a hot water shower. Then, they are ready for smoking.
All in all, it was a good weekend of butchering. We butchered 4 hogs that were around 250# a piece. My hog netted me about 160# of meat. We paid the farmer $220 for each hog. That breaks down to $1.37 per pound for recovered meat!
Sausage: 25 pounds
Brats: 17.5 pounds
Bellies: 20 pounds
Hams: 35 pounds
Chops: 29 pounds
Picnic: 6.5 pounds
Ribs: 3+ pounds
Butt: 23 pounds