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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Making sausage and rendering lard

Now you have successfully butchered a hog and hopefully have pans of odd shaped and strange looking meat to do something with. First off you need to get some of it packaged like you want for cooking. As for me, I sliced the tenderloin and froze it in layers with plastic wrap between the layers. Once frozen I put it in bags and vacuum seal it, label and back in the freezer. The ribs halves are cut in half and each rib is then cut apart. I like fried ribs or grilled ribs, so these are packaged and vacuum sealed and frozen. Now you can freeze the pork chops and chunks of back bone as you like. I froze the pork chops and trimmed all the meat off the back bone chunks for sausage. And you still have odd looking pieces of meat. So you take each piece and cut any skin and fat into about 1/2 inch cubes to render for lard. The lean and about 30% of any attached fat goes into a container for sausage along with any pieces of meat that are really fatty.  Once this task is done its time to grind sausage. I normally use a hand crank old fashioned grinder but Josh was kind enough to loan me his electric grinder which did a great job.

Once all the meat is ground up you season it. I use sage, salt, red and black pepper and a touch of brown sugar. We had about 30 lbs of meat ground, and for this I use almost a quart pickle jar of home ground sage, about 4 tablespoons of cayenne pepper, maybe a quarter cup of salt, less than a quarter cup of black pepper and about 1/3 cup brown sugar. This is ball park. Then I mix in the seasoning by hand. Keep in mind this is more a method than a recipe, so adjust seasonings to your personal taste.
This does take some time. It is also good if you can have someone help you with this as you get the seasoning mixed in they can fry a small sausage patty and you taste test it. Then add seasonings according to your own personal taste. You should be able to taste a lil sage and black pepper, you should have a slight after bite from the cayenne pepper and just know that it has brown sugar in it. The brown sugar does for sausage what salt does for any dish, it simply enhances the flavor. Now after you are done adding ingredients to the sausage and are sure it taste like you want it. Then you can put it in bags like we did or make patties and freeze them, use the way you like. If you use sausage on pizza and like Italian sausage add a hint of garlic powder to the seasoning. Now you can chill out or collapse as I did until day 2 of the lard making.

We got out the cast iron lard kettle that my dad used that his family used and prolly family before that along with the paddle used to stir the lard. I got the kettle all washed out inside and added about a pint of lard that I had here to the kettle over a fire to get it started rendering.

 This is the kettle and then I added the lard after Rodger got a fire going under it. This process is best done outside to keep the grease out of the house.

You need to start with a low fire, as to not get the kettle too hot and burn the lard or it will taste burned.  And it does need to be stirred constantly when you start to keep it from sticking also. We all took turns stirring the lard kettle.
We did this at Jason's house and his cat needed to be entertained too. So we took turns with this as we got a break from stirring.
 This is what the cracklings will look like at about the half way point of being done.

 As the cracklings get done and the lard finishes, the cracklings will float to the top of the lard. When it is done we use large hooks to pick the kettle up off the fire and set it on a flat surface that we have put a clean piece of tin down so the kettle don't become uneven and tip over.
I had a large stock pot to strain the lard into and used a cheesecloth lined strainer. The hot lard and cracklings were dipped out of the cast iron kettle and poured in the strainer to strain out the cracklings and fine pieces of meat. Set the container of lard aside, Do Not cover it, to cool. I do use a towel over the top of the kettle to keep dust and dirt out tho. Let the cast iron kettle cool, wipe down inside with a dry clean rag and store in a dry place till next time. If the kettle is like this one and well seasoned it wont need to be washed at all. Only just to get out dust and dirt prior to next use.  Put the cracklings in a separate container to be used in crackling cornbread or if you are like me to be eaten as a snack. And trust me, today I have eaten my share.
Now most likely tomorrow after the lard has cooled, I will bring it home, and remelt it and pour it into hot half gallon canning jars, and put on the lids. As the lard cools the lids will seal and it will keep for a long long time in the pantry or cellar. The cracklings I will bag up and freeze for later use.
I hope this has given someone the courage to try their hand at butchering their own hogs for meat. If I think of something that I have left out later I will go back and add it to this post but will let you know there has been additions in future post.
We had a good day but there were many times I sure missed dad. This is the first time we have butchered a hog here on the farm since dad has been gone. But I have to say, he taught me well, I did remember how to do it from beginning to end. And now hopefully Jason and Josh both know as well. Maybe I have passed on some knowledge as to how hog butchering is done the Appalachian way.
In the next post I will tell you how to make souse like I have done it and share the recipe or method. And the pickled pigs feet as well. But till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.



The Apple Pie Gal said...

I bet you are tuckerd out! So how much meat did you get put up then? Is all of it in the freezer or curing somewhere?

Jen said...

What a great tutorial! Ya'll did a fantastic job and nice when you have all the help you did. Happy New Year to you and your family! ~'Jenny"

Jen said...

PS... I sure lub me some cracklin's.

Hope, Joy and Faith Farm said...

Wow, so impressed and thank you for your step-by-step tutorial. I'm gonna get hubby to read this so we can do more of our own hogs...

Now it's time to rest and recover from all that hard work!

Deb said...

That made me soooo homesick for KY. I got to see you, Jason, Rodger and Josh's legs. And the summer kitchen too. I know all ya'll are proud that this is over. You did a GREAT job of explainin, but I know it is trickier than it sounds. You made it seem sorta simple...I didn't say easy though. Was that fire extinguishers I saw on the back of the truck? I know your Daddy is clapping for you.

stella said...

Gosh yall I am so glad to be done with all the processin. ITs so worth it but lots o hard work too. THe hog proly dressed out about 200 lbs of meat, rather small for my liking but it tastes good. We did cure the hams, the bacon and jowl bacon. The shoulders got ground into the sausage meat. ANd ended up with close to 2 gallon of lard as well. And the crackling are soo yummy lol Ok I wont rub it in. lol

Anonymous said...

My friend and neighbor Lori gave my your blog-site info. Good info. I wanted to add that if you are fortunate to have suet, hog or beef fat, you can put it in a large roaster pan and render it down in the oven. That's how my parents and grandparents did it. Watch the temps so it's not too hot. Then you can make 'griffin' cookies with the cracklins. Liberty Valentine

She Chef said...

you make it look so easy! I have 2 questions: 1) where did you get that fantastic kettle! 2) have you ever made sausage in casing like summer sausage or salami?