Home Butchering: Travelers to Tabletop!

You may remember when we moved home this past May.... we had four sweet little piglets in the back of our truck. Live hams all the way from Virginia.... Nothin' like Viriginia Ham! Then tack on the fact that this is heritage grass-fed, pasture-raised, milk-full MULEFOOT porkers and we've got some sweeeeet meat!
You may remember when we moved home this past May…. we had four sweet little piglets in the back of our truck. Live hams all the way from Virginia…. Nothin’ like Viriginia Ham! Then tack on the fact that this is heritage grass-fed, pasture-raised, milk-full MULEFOOT porkers and we’ve got some sweeeeet meat!
Mid-November we finally got cold enough to butcher/hang (around freezing temps).
Mid-November we finally got cold enough to butcher/hang (around freezing temps).
Dad used a friend's gun and put our pig (Barney) and steer (Ritz) quietly down. They then gutted and skinned both animals and hung them in the barn (on pulleys we bought at the Arden Second Hand store!). We heard that home raised beef does not need to hang to be tender. So, within a few days, both the pig and steer were being processed. We cut them both in half, but did not have meat saws for processing, so the meat was all "boned out".
Dad used a friend’s gun and put our pig (Barney) and steer (Ritz) quietly down. They then gutted and skinned both animals and hung them in the barn (on pulleys we bought at the Arden Second Hand store!). We heard that home raised beef does not need to hang to be tender. So, within a few days, both the pig and steer were being processed. We cut them both in half, but did not have meat saws for processing, so the meat was all “boned out”.
Jay is a master meat cutter (erh...for a beginner!)
Jay is a master meat cutter (erh…for a beginner!)
With a few instructions from my dad, we cut butterfly steaks, filets, and loin for canadian bacon. I'm sure we did a few wrong cuts, but for free, it works!
With a few instructions from my dad, we cut butterfly steaks, filets, and loin for canadian bacon. I’m sure we did a few wrong cuts, but for free, it works!
Our dear friends Jim and Ethel again came to the rescue. They helped with a lot of advice on how to cut and wrap. Ethel showed me to wrap from one corner: fold up the bottom - fold in the sides tightly - wrap up and seal with freezer tape! Works so much nicer than wrapping it square likea present....
Our dear friends Jim and Ethel again came to the rescue. They helped with a lot of advice on how to cut and wrap. Ethel showed me to wrap from one corner: fold up the bottom – fold in the sides tightly – wrap up and seal with freezer tape! Works so much nicer than wrapping it square likea present….

Because we had no saws, our weights were solely meat weights.
Jersey = A few select steaks (and experimenting with herbed steak) and major roast meat. Everything else became stew meat or hamburger. We got over 100# of meat, plus well-endowed bones that will feed our dog all winter.
Mulefoot hog = Butterfly loin steaks (these are amazing in taste!), Canadian bacon, ham galore, bacon, a bunch of ground sausage, and more bones for the favored dog.

  6WrappedCuts

One 10 month old Jersey steer = about half a gallon of tallow, but that wasn't even enough for the hamburger (which is like 99% lean oops) so next year, we'll save some lard to put in the hamburger.Lard = over 3 gallons once rendered down. We had lard coming out our ears!! But WOW, does it work wonders on bakeware and cast iron! I put just a skimming across the bottom of the cast iron pan and I Can cook/flip eggs all the day long. Whoooeee, it's amazing. Works wonders with the stoneware bread pans, too!!
One 10 month old Jersey steer = about half a gallon of tallow, but that wasn’t even enough for the hamburger (which is like 99% lean oops) so next year, we’ll save some lard to put in the hamburger.
Lard = over 3 gallons once rendered down. We had lard coming out our ears!! But WOW, does it work wonders on bakeware and cast iron! I put just a skimming across the bottom of the cast iron pan and I Can cook/flip eggs all the day long. Whoooeee, it’s amazing. Works wonders with the stoneware bread pans, too!!
We were way too picky with quality, because we joke we ended up with "filet hamburger" due to the fact that the legs looked too tendony and we did not want to risk chewy hamburger (hey, how were we to know that would not be the case?). Well, we learned later we can grind up that meat, no problem. Live and Learn. Maisie, our dog, has been extremely happy and homebound....she's not about to let those meaty bones out of her sight!!
We were way too picky with quality, because we joke we ended up with “filet hamburger” due to the fact that the legs looked too tendony and we did not want to risk chewy hamburger (hey, how were we to know that would not be the case?). Well, we learned later we can grind up that meat, no problem. Live and Learn. Maisie, our dog, has been extremely happy and homebound….she’s not about to let those meaty bones out of her sight!!

A few last tips/notes:

1. Render down your lard ASAP to avoid smells. It’s excellent stuff and very valuable. If you have enough Tallow, remember that it is very hard and makes the best soap!

2. Try to keep the meat in below freezing conditions. By the time we got to the last side of beef (our last day of cutting) the meat was too warm. The weather was up to 38-40 and that was too warm to start cutting into the meat. It ended up being very soft and hard to cut clean.

3. We hung the animals in the shop, but cut and wrapped in the basement. Have lots of lighting. A decently warm work environment = longer stamina on your part!

4. Meat grinder is a must. Besides basic knives (SHARP ones, and frequently re-sharpened!)….a meat grinder provides, in my mind, the most essential help to a home processor. In just a few minutes, we could grind several pounds of meat. This year we were given one to borrow from some gracious friends (who also shared their super effective 22 Magnum long rifle if I said that right, gun terminology is not my thing)

5. Mulefoot meat is well-marbled and tasty. Jersey meat is super lean and dark and sweet. Both are favorites of mine. Absolutely biased in opinion, but I can provide references to many others that agree with me! 😉

I chose to dry salt (in the meat world, this is called “curing”) the pork cuts (hams & bacons). I mixed large chunks of cinnamon, nutmeg, dried orange peel and allspice with copious amounts of salt. The cuts of meat were stored in glass bowls surrounded by this salty mixture for several days.

To remove excessive saltiness and restore some moisture, another tip from Jim & Ethel is PAR-boiling. I know, I hadn’t heard of it… It’s easy, just:

  1. Place salted meat in a pot of cold water
  2. Bring to a boil
  3. Take the meat out immediately when the water boils
  4. Put the meat in cold water
  5. Repeat steps if the meat is still too salty

6. Final weights:

Mulefoot – barrow – age 8 mo. –  live weight 285 – 300 #

  • 25 pounds pork sausage
  • 4 pounds butterfly loin steaks
  • 2 sections of Canadian bacon (around 12 lb.)
  • 2 back hams, cut into sections (around 20 lb.)
  • 5 lb. pork shoulder roast
  • 3 gallons lard
  • bones

Jersey – steer – age 10 mo. – live weight maybe 350#

  • 50 pounds hamburger
  • 8 lb. filet cuts
  • 20 lb. stew meat
  • 10 lb. rump roasts 
  • minimal tallow
  • bones

If anyone has advice, please share it. We plan to do this again next year! Also, if you know of any good visuals (photos, videos, charts…) that show specifically how to cut the meat (not just basic “cuts of meat” chart, but more detailed anatomy and such) we would appreciate the help.

Most of all, Jay and I are super excited to have our freezer full of meat. After a year of harvesting our milk, plus cherries, pears, apples…and vegetables from the garden, there is nothing more satisfying than farming for yourself. We can have visitors over for dinner and make them truly homemade meals! What a blessing! We are thankful and grateful to God and all our family and friends who helped make our dreams possible!

p.s. Please don’t ask what happened to the smoker and all our glorious ideas of applewood smoked bacon. Some lessons are just too hard to bear!

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