Saturday, April 27, 2013

Meat, Bacon, Canning and stuff...

I have had a busy few weeks as the pigs are no more and have been processed into tasty things. I miss them as they are really fun animals to have, but the land needs a rest as it is very compacted. In the future it will be lovely fertile land with all that pig muck... Anyway, back to the kitchen.

As we had 5 pigs to cut up I decided to have a go at one myself. I bought myself a new knife, cleaned the hack saw put on the "pig in a day" video by River Cottage and set to work. I wanted to make lots of bacon and our normal helper did not know how to make back bacon and I wanted to give it a go. It took me a long time but this is half a pig in bits (minus the back leg!). The bottom left big pieces are bacon, lower is back upper is streaky. Top left is the shoulder which I was going to turn into sausages.  Top right is filet (tenderloin) and middle bit is a roasting joint, right is the bones cut out from the back bacon (the spine and some ribs - which made lovely bbq bits!) I cut up the back leg into some smaller ham joints and then used the rest to make sausages.

After de-boning the shoulder and other bits I pressure cooked the bones and then picked off the meat and stuffed it into jars and canned it!

William, a neighbour, came over to help me cut up the meat ready for the mincing machine and we also had another helper.....Had it heard about all this meat??!! A sparrow hawk.

This is what our back bacon looked like before I cut out the bones and ribs:

Canning endlessly..... I did 2 different methods. I first pan fried some of the chunks and mince to brown it. This should improve the flavour and also creates a bit of shrinkage which is good to do as you can end up with lots of wasted space in the jars when it cooks and shrinks. I then just felt I had too much to do, so I just raw packed the other half of it, stuffing it into the jars! I can only do four 1/2 litre or two 1 litre jars at a time so it takes a long long time to do a large batch. On the right is raw packed, on the left is all done!

The sun was shining and I had all those spare ribs so I thought that I would enjoy a BBQ, the corn was from the freezer, yum!

At the end of the bottling marathon I had 8 X litre jars of cubes, 4 X 1/2 litre jars of cubes, 7 X 1/2 litre jars of mince and 4 X 1/2 litre jars of the meat from the bones to make soups etc.
It takes 90 minutes to do each batch, (Plus all the heating up and cooling down times before you can start timing or before you can open the pressure cooker!) That is 12 hours at pressure! It probably takes an extra 30 minutes each batch, so it's a lot of time, but it will now store for a long time. I did look at importing a proper canner from America, but it was quite expensive and I would have had to pay import duty. It would however have saved me a LOT of time and wood as I think you can do 14 X 1/2 litre jars in one go and maybe about 8 X litre ones. Perhaps I will invest in it one day.....

I also had a sausage marathon. This is just half of them!! I made about 200 in the end. On the right, the longer ones, are chorizo and salami. We are having a go at making some for the first time. We used the narrower pig casings as they dry quicker. They have been hung outside in the breeze but we have to wait a long time before we can test it, about 4 or 5 weeks! I made 3 different flavours of normal sausages: Pork and onion, English banger, and baking chorizo.

The bacon is salted using a sweet dry pickle. 1kg salt, 1/2 kg muskovado sugar (did not have any soft brown sugar!) some bay leaves, juniper berries and back pepper corns all crushed up and mixed up. Ever day I rub the mixture into the surface and drain off the liquid. This is our back bacon looking very good indeed!!

The bacon is hung up to dry off for a day or so:

And the tasting......delicious!

Last year we froze our bacon and it did not keep well in the freezer. We have now learnt that salted meat does not keep its flavour very well so, guess what.....I decided to can it!!!
First you lay out the bacon on baking paper and fold one end in over the edge (see left hand side)

Then you fold the bottom bit over the bacon. This stops it sticking together when you do the next fold.

Folded in half:

Then you roll it up and try and stuff it in the jar.....But 10 rashers does not fit! I removed 2, so each jar has around 8 in them:

And now it fits!

When you make the bacon you end up with all the funny shaped bits so I cut them up into cubes and we have some jars of bits all ready to go. The next lot of bacon is all sliced up and ready to go:

Really thick bacon!!

Then I ran out of paper! So I crammed about 12 pieces into the jar and we will see if they stick together too much. I am hoping that because our bacon is so thick it will be easy to flatten out!!

Bottled bacon! On the left are the 2 jars of whole bits rammed in. On the right are the paper rolled bacon rashers, then in the middle some bacon bits. I can't wait to test them.....I hope they will be ok!!!

We use a hand cranked bacon slicer. You can set the thickness with the dial on the bottom right. It is a fantastic bit of kit, there is no need for an expensive electric one!! Well maybe it is better if you want really thin bits!!

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