Rasher-ing, or the bacon conundrum

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Looks like bacon, fries like bacon, smells like bacon, tastes like bacon. Bacon made from pork cheeks (jowl) instead of belly – it IS bacon :D

It makes me really happy that the love for our bacon is growing so strong. 

Recently, I got a request for fifty pounds of bacon. Followed by another order for six pounds, then another for four.  Just bacon.

So, while a great kind of dilemma to have, where am I going to store the rest of the four hogs that come with the sixty pounds of bacon?  And then I will have zero bacon on hand for my regular customers for a while.

Because this is a new-ish and growing farm, my supply chain is a little squeezed by lack of infrastructure and available freezer space.

Now, I can just quietly turn down orders or take on bad debt to try to compete with the grocery store, or maybe I could try to use this opportunity to help illustrate how your local farmers can really use your help in reshaping our food system.

Since the whole point of this farm is about a better, kinder, saner food system, and including you in the reality of building a restorative farm from scratch, here goes.

Pre-selling pork and beef by the mixed box, half, or whole is how we are able to keep the inventory moving through the system.

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I found this somewhere on the internet without proper attribution. Couldn’t resist the greatness.  If it is yours or you know where it’s from please let me know. It’s awesome.

It is a win/win, because we do not have to deal with the unattainable-at-the-moment infrastructure costs of expanding our freezer storage, and you get a better price than if you purchased individual cuts.

Your reliable and committed support helps small farmers like us give our dependable and consistent support to the local businesses we need to raise your meats.

Ethically raised meats rely upon a host of other local farmers to grow the organic and non-GMO grains we need, the local grain mills required to invest in the necessary infrastructure to store and grind the grains, and the small, more humane licensed meat processing services we need to help meet your expectations.

All that supporting infrastructure is required by law, but can only become readily available locally with reliable, consistent revenue.  Over time, as your dollars support your ethics, the price and convenience gap between intensively raised and ethically raised will begin to narrow.

It is a process; Industrial farming is a huge boat to turn around. Until local farmers can trust that we will buy their crops, it is too risky for them to commit to growing the unsubsidized products we SAY we will buy.

 

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Just a thought, have you considered Canadian bacon? It’s a pork loin, cured and smoked just like bacon, but is leaner. Also great for dinner, ’cause it’s just smoked boneless chops.

Okay, blabbityy, blah, blah. I know you’re nodding off as soon as I bring in the words like “Restorative” “Ethical” “Humane” “Sustable”, but, TRUTH.  Moving on now.

I pondered this for a few days, and for some reason, this solution was a little slow in coming. And I figure, if it was slow coming to me, a person who thinks about this stuff all the time, it is definitely not going to suddenly occur to you, a person who just wants some bacon with your eggs on a regular basis.

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Cottage, or Hillbilly bacon is your pork butt roast cured and smoked and sliced like bacon. Often more lean than belly bacon, it’s perfect for summer BLT’s since one slice covers a lotta bread.

Okay,  here’s my revelation:

What if, instead of buying a half hog plus extra commodity bacon, you purchased a whole hog, and widened your breakfast meat repertoire?

One half would provide your expected fresh pork needs – chops, ribs, roasts, sausage, and the other half could be cut specifically to give you the maximum amount of smoked breakfast favorites.

For example, here’s one way you might go about it – each hog varies, so the weights are estimated:

8 – 10 pounds of classic belly bacon

8 – 13 pounds of Canadian Bacon

1 pound of cheek or jowl bacon,

4 – 7 pounds of cottage bacon from the butt roast,

5 – 6 pounds of smoked picnic ham (or keep this one fresh to make pulled pork)

16 – 20 pounds of classic smoked ham, which you can have cut into slices and individually frozen for smaller portions.

If you are not a lover of that much smoked ham, you can have your ham ground into sausage, or leave it as a fresh pork roast confusingly called fresh ham. Ham is after all, before curing and smoking, a regular pork roast, and a delicious one at that.

So, this approach would give you an additional 40 – 50 pounds of smoked meats, plus a little extra fresh like baby back ribs, country ribs and some extra sausage. 

Until you have worked your way through a half of whole hog, a freezer full of meat seems like a daunting purchase. But, once you get used to it, a well stocked freezer is amazingly liberating.

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Classic ham holds its own in the realm of breakfast meats. Big and bulky, if you don’t need a roast, consider having a smoked ham sliced into steaks easier to fry up or grill for supper or eggs.

If this seems like too much meat, consider teaming up with some friends and split the bounty. 

Sliced into tight, tidy packages of breakfast meats this way, your additional half hog won’t take up nearly the freezer space as bulkier roasts and ham.  A whole hog easily fits into 5 – 6 cu. feet of freezer space. For context: a milk crate is slightly more than one cubic foot.

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Packaging your meat into tight packages helps save freezer space.

Anyway, just a win/win thought I had this frosty week as I unrolled giant bales of hay, schlepped buckets of feed and tanks of water down to the hogs by truck and toboggan.

Mud + Snowstorm=YAY.

 

What are your whole-hog bacon tips and tricks? 

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