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Jul 2, 2009 01:46 PM

Buying a whole pig...

I'm about to split a half hog with a relative....anyone know some good sources?

So far, I'm leaning towards Beef Connections, yes, for pig. The farmer (Robert Huber) has been super helpful in answering my questions and raises hormone-free, quality feed, nice pen, pigs that are at least 50% Berkshire. Ends up being about $300 for a whole pig, cut to my specifications.

Just curious about the experiences other CH'ers have had.

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  1. The very best parts of your hog are beyond the chops and roasts.

    How far will BF process the hog? Will they cure your bacon, hams, hocks, etc. and arrange for smoking? Will they do sausage to your specs? There are many things to do with the liver and heart as well.

    11 Replies
    1. re: DockPotato

      I realize there are more things to do beyond chops and roasts.

      I'm asking for cut to spec, i.e. no procesing. I make my own bacon, pancetta, ham, sausages.

      I was going to make pate and sausage with the liver. But what can you suggest for the heart?

      1. re: grandgourmand

        Definitely stuffed and roasted. Served with a demi glace sauce.
        I'm wondering if a pre-brine, including nitrate, would help. It would stiffen the muscle, and make it harder to stuff.

        My experience with has been exemplary, every time.
        You are getting a Berkshire bred hog which you can visit, for $300. The Charcuterie people around town will be envious.

        If you do visit, be sure to to pick up some fresh eggs, and ground beef, always on hand.

        1. re: grandgourmand

          Well you're all set then - I'm jealous. If you're using the liver for sausage, you might consider "hurka" using the heart as well. It's a fresh Hungarian sausage using rice and offal - very tasty. If you've never had it, try some from Blue Danube Sausage in Etobicoke.

        2. re: DockPotato

          To be more specific, in terms of cuts, I'm asking for:

          2x shoulder
          2x picnic
          4x hocks
          2x hams (maybe some cut into steaks)
          loins, however, I'm not so concerned about how to cut those
          bellies, yes, lots of belly

          beef connections said they'd cut to spec.

          1. re: grandgourmand

            Have you talked to the folks at The Pork Shoppe in Shakespeare? Organic Mennonite pigs, and what they do with them in terms of butchering and bacon is state of the art.

            1. re: Snarf

              Yes! Discovered this store about 5 years ago on the way to Stratford. Best pork I've ever tasted here in Canada. Have bought almost every cut they've had and it's always delicious.

              Funny story the first time we went we were going to Stratford but Pork Shoppe was going to be closed by the time we got back. Owner told us to pay for it now and she'll leave it in the fridge they have outside. I was like what? I had bought $100 worth of pork. She smiled and said, don't worry, it'll be here we're a small town and we go on the honour system! So old school I love it! Sure enough, all our pork was there on the way back. Incredible.

              1. re: Restaurant Dish

                Next time it won't be there, though, because now we all know the secret hiding spot, hahahaha!

            2. re: grandgourmand

              That is bold. Well done. Let us know how it goes.

              1. re: Kooper

                It's been going well. I've made some great sausages with the shoulders. One of the best hams I've ever made (it came fresh, I cured and smoked). However, the pork chops didn't wow me. Oh, and jowl is curing as we speak. If you're getting a jowl, keep a keen eye on bits to be trimmed. There's a lot of glands.

                Oh, and this particular order was screwed up in terms of bellies. I had asked for fresh, they went ahead and turned into bacon on my behalf. That's the fault of the slaughterhouse, not the farmer. Nonetheless, I wasn't pleased.

                I'm making a pseudo headchees this weekend with ears, snoud, tail and tongue.

                1. re: grandgourmand

                  Oooooo - headcheese. That's something I'm definately interested in hearing about. Please update on how it goes and include pics if you can! thanks GG!

                  1. re: grandgourmand

                    Folks, please share any results of your cooking experiences over on the Home Cooking board. You can leave a pointer link in this thread letting people know about it. Thanks!

            3. Just a question re: whole/half pigs, didn't want to start a whole new thread.

              I was all set to purchase a side of pork from a small farmer near Belleville. It fell through, mostly because we wanted to pick up the pork fresh, ie, unfrozen.

              Is this a normal practice? I realize I am going to have to freeze much of it, but we were going to make bacon, ham and some sausage, then freeze the rest. We were going to make a weekend of it. It didn't make sense to take a fresh butt, freeze it, thaw it, cut it into chunks, put it back in the freezer until firm, make sausage, and then freeze it _again_.

              But maybe that's how it's done. I just wanted to see what other peoples experience was before I start looking for another source.



              3 Replies
              1. re: brianl999

                I think most of the time, for a small scale order, you're going to get it frozen. That is, unless you can find out when the farmer is sending pig to the slaughterhouse and picking it up when they're done with it. That may be possible. You can't get it directly from the farmer butchered fresh from the pen, it has to be from an inspected faciltiy (Sorry if you know this already).

                The process you're describing for making sausage is exaclty what I've been doing. Except, I hadn't really considered in that manner. I've encountered no problems. As long as you defrost meat in the fridge, not the counter, I think you're fine to thaw then re-freeze. Or at least, that's what I've been told.

                Bottom line, I think it is possible to get it fresh. But arrangements have to be made with the slaughterhouse. Why did your deal fall through?

                Have fun, I wish you luck. It's a fun thing, if you can get it to work out.

                1. re: grandgourmand

                  Thanks for the info.

                  It fell through for a few reasons, we wanted it cut up a certain way and they are apparently very busy and didn't really want to do a 'special' order. We did know when they were going to send it to the abattoir, and were willing to pick it up there. I grew up in the area and worked just down the road from the abattoir on a farm when I was younger, and have been there many times in the past. My parents still live in the area, and we were going to take the meat there, process what we wanted to process, then package and freeze the rest.

                  I've since been in touch with the folks at Perth Pork Products (, and we'll be making a trip there this weekend to put a down payment on either a Tamworth of Berkshire pig, pickup around Nov 20.

                  Thanks again for the reply,


                  1. re: brianl999

                    Now let me know how that goes. I think I'm making my next purchase from them, for sure.

              2. GG do you know where to get butcher's paper? My cured salmon got too dry in the fridge and too moist in a plastic bag. I don't want to ruin anything.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Kooper

                  Go to a local butcher, but a steak and ask for extra paper? A place like cumbrae's uses butcher paper...or any real butcher shop, that is.

                  1. re: grandgourmand

                    Highland Farms, too

                    Highland Farms
                    850 Ellesmere Rd, Toronto, ON M1P, CA

                  2. re: Kooper

                    Outpost packaging sells rolls of, it's in Hastings. Or ask a local butcher to buy some from him

                  3. I'm about 7 months late with this reply, but have you tried the St. Lawrence Market (north side) on a Saturday? There's a stall that only sells pork and they have whole pigs and suckling pigs hanging in refrigerated glass cases. My mom used to buy their pork bellies to make chicharones and they always came out goooooood. Now I've got a craving for some chicharones.

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