Bacon and Sausage everywhere!!

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Bacon and Sausage everywhere!!  After the processing of the pigs, it is always bacon and sausage time.  With each of the 8 bellies weighing about 9 lbs and about 100 lbs of ground pork, we were in for a busy weekend.

We started by curing the bellies with a traditional salt, sugar, molasses and herb dry rub for 7 days.  On day 3 of the cure, we drained the liquid that had been purged and re-rubbed with more cure.  Using salt as a cure allows us to NOT use pink salt ( sodium nitrite/nitrate).

After day 7, we smoked the bacon with apple, pecan and cherry wood and froze the whole bellies and were ready to slice!

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Once it was frozen, we sliced and packaged the bacon…maybe we ate a bit too.  I’ll never tell!

 Homemade bacon from organically raised pigs is so different from store-bought bacon.  It’s flavor is so concentrated that you really only need to eat a few slices to get your fill.  Even the most carnivorous of folks get their fill after a few pieces.

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There is something so amazingly cool about making/growing your own food.  Actually it is not all that difficult and mainly requires a time commitment.  There are plenty of folks out there that do it and work a full-time job outside the home..it is entirely possible to do, if you really want to. 🙂

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The sausage…it really is the stuff  that dreams are made of!  Last year we went to a different butcher and for some unknown reason, the ground pork that we got wasn’t the best as it had hard chunks in it…gross sounding, I know.  The really unfortunate part was that we didn’t realize until it was too late and we had made 100 lbs of sausage with it and sent it off to our family and friends.  😦  We always taste test the sausage before we stuff it, but didn’t find anything odd in the samples that we tried.  That was last year…this year a different butcher and AMAZING Sausage!  We played around with maple syrup in the sausage, but found that it often burned when cooked, as pure sugar will.   I was poking around Amazon and found this maple syrup powder and thought we’d give it a whirl.

The stuff is amazing and was perfect for our maple breakfast sausage!!  We used quite a bit to get the flavor that we were looking for.  It turned out so yummy!  One word of caution..it is a very fine powder so it will get everywhere if spilled or mixed to fast.

We also made an italian sausage, neither sweet nor spicy…just in the middle and oh so yummy with fresh garlic, rosemary, fennel and other spices!!

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For the past 2 years of sausage and bacon making, we look at each other and say “we are not doing this again next year!”  I am not going to lie…it’s a lot to add to our plate, especially this year.  But, when we get the feedback from those who eat it and want to order again already for next year…it all seems worth it!

 There is a really great feeling that happens when feeding those you care about great, wholesome food.

**sigh**   I do love doing this. 🙂

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Ps…I wanted to add a picture of us making the sausage…but I couldn’t seem to take one that wasn’t terribly phallic. 😉

Bacon, Sausage and Lard…

Phew… we’ve had quite the busy week!

2 – 30 lbs hams curing and waiting to be smoked.

13 pints of lard rendered and canned just waiting for pie crust.

100 lbs of sausage (breakfast and Italian) made, stuffed and packaged.

Almost 70 lbs of bacon cured in molasses and maple for 5 days then smoked, sliced and packaged.

~Blueberry Maple Sausage

~Sweet Italian and Blueberry Maple

~Getting a little Maple Yumminess..

~Rubbed and curing for 4 days

~Resting an hour before the smoker

~Smoked for hours and ready for the oven!

We still have so much to do…I must have 80 lbs of fat left to render, but the majority of the hard work is done.

Rendering fat….

Thankfully a friend rendered fat from a pig that she purchased earlier this month and warned of the odor and being very sensitive to odor myself, I am glad that I decided to cook the fat outside on the porch in slow cookers…It definitely had a certain smell to it.  Outside it wasn’t bad, actually we were cleaning up the yard in anticipation of hurricane Sandy and my son yelled “it smells like potato chips!”, which it did. 🙂  That being said, when all was said and done I had the whitest snow-white lard I’ve ever seen.  Because our pigs spent their lives outside in the sun, their fat is chock full of vitamin D, second only to cod liver oil!  Can you imagine??  Have you ever tried to stomach cod liver oil?  Not my favorite by any means.  Good to know that my pastries and morning eggs will have serious amounts of vitamin D…perfect for the winter. Yay!!

Anywho, here is how I did it.  You can literally set-it and forget-it!

~Sunny day rendering a little lard

Cut your fat into small pieces, the smaller the better, the more lard you will render out.

Place it all in a crockpot

Add 1 inch of cold water to the bottom of the pan

Set the crockpot on the lowest setting

Cover and forget for about 6 hours

You’ll see the fat shrink and the lard will begin to fill the pan.  When the fat (which will become cracklings) begins to brown, it’s time to strain, strain through cheesecloth in a strainer.  This will be the whitest of white lard.  Perfect for baking.  Pour hot lard into sterile jars and top with sterile lids.  They will self seal and be shelf stable.

Place the fat pieces back in the pan and continue to render.  When the cracklings resemble bacon pieces, you can strain it a

gain and this straining will be a bit darker and have  a little bit of a bacon/pork flavor, perfect for breads and frying.  Anything that you want to have a little more of an in-depth flavor.  Some people save the cracklings and add them to salads or anywhere else you’d want a little crunch.  I can imagine that a chicken breast coated in panko crumbs and cracklings would be AMAZING!

I, however ended up tossing them as it was really late and I was kinda tired of them…if I’m being completely honest. 😉

~lard, glorious lard

Here is the dream shot, although not a great one…

Our goal….

~Our own eggs AND bacon!!

From the very first egg gathered from our backyard chicken house over 3 years ago we said “wouldn’t it be great to have our own bacon to go with it!”…

 Much to the nay-say of others and many thinking that we are nuts….we did it!

We did it!!

And we will do it again, next spring.

 It has been so much more than a learning experience, it has really made me more aware of where my food comes from and where I WANT my food to come from.

I do have to admit that I can’t wait until next year to have little piggies running around outside…they really are such neat creatures. ❤

If anyone local is interested for next year….let me know.  We would love to share our home grown food. 🙂