Friday, January 24, 2014

The real thing.

For some time we have been thinking about keeping a pig again. We have an area of ground which has a heavy cover of bramble growing,  according to Permaculture law there are only two ways of getting rid of bramble, dig it out, well neither of us fancy that job, or get a pig.
Before embarking on any enterprise we like to make sure that we can do exactly what we wish to with the end product.
 Keeping a pig for meat means finding out the best way to feed it without being heavily reliant on pig nuts, feeding any animal exclusively on  concentrates results in 'soft' meat with little texture.
 So we have to plan well ahead of what we can grow well  and in quantity to supplement the feed.
 Root veg do well here and pigs like them, Jerusalem Artichokes also grow well, we have a bumper crop of them, but we know that pigs do not like them. Peas and beans go down well and most fruit.
The next thing to consider is where can we get the pig slaughtered, the local factory is a non starter for several reasons, the butcher in our local town charges far too much so it will mean traveling some distance for slaughtering. Butchering we will do ourselves, the main way of butchering here is to whisk everything through a band saw.
Then there is the processing, we will want to make bacon, ham, bathchaps and sausages.
We also have half a Gloucester Old Spot pig coming soon from a friend ,so we thought it was time to start the learning process for processing the carcass.
We thought that sausages would be a good place to start. We hanker over a decent sausage, we have tried most of the ones on sale, including the Organic ones from the Farmers Market but none of them taste as the good old sausage used to. Sausages are something that had gone from our menu.
A quick look on the internet gave us exactly what we wanted, a recipe for traditional pork sausages.
I am lucky enough to have a good Kenwood mixer so I ordered and received the mincing and sausage making attachment.
We ordered the meat, one kg of shoulder and one kg of belly, with strict instructions that the meat should be at least 20% fat. We were not let down. We chopped up all the meat, de-boning and de- skinning it, added finely choped herbs, sage and parsley,fresh from the garden,
plus 20% freshly made bread crumbs, salt, white pepper and allspice. The sausage skins we bought from a local butcher.
                                              The whole process could not have been simpler.
We tested a small sample before filling the skins in case we needed to add anymore seasoning, we did add a few more sage leaves, but the first run needed no further tweaking.
The sausages taste as we remember them. full of flavor, plus we know exactly what has gone into them.
We ended up with 7lb of sausages, six of which are now in the freezer. Cost per lb. 3.60 euros, and something that's worth eating.
The next thing to try is bacon, we would also like to try smoking some bacon. So more pork will be ordered and we will have a go. We should at least have some idea of what works before the half pig arrives, we can then make the decision as to getting our own pig or not.


  1. Those look delicious! Will be following closely on your piggy adventures. What are ¨bathchaps¨ please?

  2. Hi Cole,
    Bathchaps originated in Bath Somerset, I come from the West country so grew up knowing and enjoying them, They taste like ham. Now I think there is only one butcher that still makes them. You cant buy them in supermarkets
    It is the cheek of the pigs head, pickled in brine and herbs for 2-3 weeks, then the meat is boiled for a couple of hours, the bone is then removed, the meat is then rolled in breadcrumbs, at this stage it is wrapped in cling film to keep a wedge shape, normally it would be served cold with salad or pickles. I cant wait to try to do my own, also Simon although he comes from the west of England has never had one. What is left of the pigs head can be made into brawn, which I like but Simon doesn't, it is also quite fiddly to make brawn and not worth me doing just for me.

  3. All looks great, bet they were delicious. I'll definitely be looking out for pig updates but...if you don't end up getting one. Me and Jason can have a bash at digging out the bramble..I find that kind of work strangely satisfying! My favourite tapas here is carrillada. Slow cooked pigs cheek, delicious! xxx

    1. We will make sure to keep some sausages for when you come, I'm sure you will enjoy them. Hope to be making bacon this weekend.

    2. YUM! I am asolutely sure we will! x

  4. Nice porky post which for some reason, sneaked through our net. I must have clicked through it on the day it was up. Sausages look good. Bathchaps intriguing!

    1. I'm looking forward to making the Bathchap, hope it tastes as good as I remember. The sausages turned out very well, and were so easy to do.