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Bringing pigs to a slaughterhouse, bringing back pork...in relation to aging meat

 
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Location: Northeast IL
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Hi, novice question, no pigs yet, just planning things. We're looking forward to raising a couple feeders, and doing them in will likely mean bringing them to a slaughterhouse. My question is, do they hang the meat at the slaughterhouse to age it? Or do we get the cuts back and it's up to us to let everything rest in the fridge prior to freezing? How does all that work?

I know there's some debate whether or not a younger pig needs hanging. I'm going per an article on pigsite.com, which was linked from the Sugar Mountain website.
 
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Most butchers I know don't hang pork, you get the fresh pork back as soon as they are done cutting it up (a few days at most) then either the butcher or you brings the cuts you want smoked to the smoker for curing and cutting you pick that up from the smoker whenever they are done which can be a week, could be months....
 
Gene Water
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Thanks for the response, Adam.
 
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Gene Water wrote:. My question is, do they hang the meat at the slaughterhouse to age it? Or do we get the cuts back and it's up to us to let everything rest in the fridge prior to freezing? How does all that work?



in my experience (our neighbor raises pigs, we buy 2 full hogs a year), the animals comes back from the butcher frozen in individual packages,
if you have the butch cure/smoke parts of the meat, the rest of the pork will generally sit in their freezer until it is all ready to be picked up.



 
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I think this depends on the butcher. The first thing you do is find a good one, because they aren't all the same. I'd suggest calling your local 4-H for info on that. They generally know which are good and which aren't.

Anyway, we've had meat frozen, unfrozen, etc. Depends on the butcher, as I said. If you have a preference certainly let it be known. We like to keep all the bones for our dogs and we've had family request to keep the head so they could age it for decor purposes. I think a good butcher would probably be willing to discuss this with you and would probably be willing to oblige any requests you had, so long as they were reasonable.
 
Gene Water
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Thanks for the responses, guys. Can I ask, do you notice any difference between frozen pork and aged, or do you let it sit out in the fridge for a while after defrosting?
 
Kelly Smith
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i always assume the pork hung at my butchers for a few days (2-5?) before it was cut, but i guess i could be wrong.

we dont let it sit any longer than needed to defrost.
 
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Gene Water wrote:Hi, novice question, no pigs yet, just planning things. We're looking forward to raising a couple feeders, and doing them in will likely mean bringing them to a slaughterhouse. My question is, do they hang the meat at the slaughterhouse to age it? Or do we get the cuts back and it's up to us to let everything rest in the fridge prior to freezing? How does all that work?



This varies with the butcher. I've done testing that showed hanging pork improves the quality just like with beef and other species. More recently scientific research has backed this up. We hang for about a week. Ask your butcher if they'll hang. Hot cutting is very bad and will result in tough meat. It should at least be hung for a day, three is better, five hits into the sweet spot.

Doing it in the fridge after cutting is second best and better than just freezing.

See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2007/08/24/hanging-around/

-Walter
 
Gene Water
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Walter, I saw that page on your website, that's what I'm going by, very helpful.

I was wondering, why do you send out to slaughter if you're doing your own butchering? Is that a USDA requirement for retail? For pig, we'll keep one and sell the other to friends in bits and pieces...not really for sure yet about all the legality stuff there. I looked up chickens, though. Seems we could process our own chickens for retail w/o license if we do less than, well, way more than we're ever hoping to grow in a year.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Gene Water wrote:I was wondering, why do you send out to slaughter if you're doing your own butchering? Is that a USDA requirement for retail?



We are building our USDA/State inspected on-farm meat processing facility in phases.

First we built the shell of the building as one unified structure. This makes it energy efficient and tight against vermin.

The most expensive part of hired processing is the butchering, the meat cutting and packing. This is also the least expensive portion of the facility to finish off first. Thus we finished off the butcher shop portion where we cut the carcasses to chops and such first so that now we are saving that high cost of butchering.

Then we added sausage making which has added regulatory complications but is a minor addition to the process.

Next we'll add smoking which is the next most expensive part of the processing.

Later we'll add the slaughter which is the least expensive part to have someone else do and the most expensive part to finish off in the building.

By breaking the project up into phases it makes it so that we can afford to do it financially and also makes it so that we only take on a small chunk of new learning with each phase. This keeps it all manageable and affordable.

For those curious about how we built our own facility see:

http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop

-Walter
 
Gene Water
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Excellent, thank you.
 
pollinator
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Walter Jeffries wrote:This varies with the butcher. I've done testing that showed hanging pork improves the quality just like with beef and other species. More recently scientific research has backed this up. We hang for about a week. Ask your butcher if they'll hang. Hot cutting is very bad and will result in tough meat. It should at least be hung for a day, three is better, five hits into the sweet spot.

Doing it in the fridge after cutting is second best and better than just freezing.

See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2007/08/24/hanging-around/

-Walter



I've always read that pork (and bear meat, for those who hunt them) ought not be hung on account of the fat going rancid. Any comment?

That said, two years ago we had taken three pigs in, and it took longer than it should have for them to call us to tell us it was ready. When I showed up to pay and collect the meat, I noticed that the butcher's copy of the cut sheet said "Mold--discard" next to "neck bones" for one of the pigs (which they conveniently failed to mention). Clearly that pig, at least, had hung long enough to develop enough mold for bits to be thrown out, yet the rest of the meat was fine.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Wes Hunter wrote:I've always read that pork (and bear meat, for those who hunt them) ought not be hung on account of the fat going rancid. Any comment?



Rates of rancidity depend on what you feed and the temperatures at which you hang. We have not had any problem and we've hung thousands of pig carcasses for a week over the past decade. The latest scientific research mirrors my field experiments that hanging pork improves quality just like with sheep, beef, etc.

Wes Hunter wrote:That said, two years ago we had taken three pigs in, and it took longer than it should have for them to call us to tell us it was ready. When I showed up to pay and collect the meat, I noticed that the butcher's copy of the cut sheet said "Mold--discard" next to "neck bones" for one of the pigs (which they conveniently failed to mention). Clearly that pig, at least, had hung long enough to develop enough mold for bits to be thrown out, yet the rest of the meat was fine.



This suggests the butcher has a dirty cooler, warm cooler, poor ventilation, poor circulation - one or more of those, possibly all of those as they stack. When they hang beef they trim off any mold. When they hang prosciutto and country hams they also trim. Might have been an issue, might not. Too little data to know.

Cheers,

-Walter
 
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Aging pork?

I looked up this subject bc we had to do just that. We butchered an AGH Kune Kune sow for a bbq ourselves. Hubs put the ywo hams a d a shoukder ibto bri e for the bbq immediately, but we had to quarter the rest and put it  into a fridge we keep seperately jist for this.  I was tasked w the job of cutting up the parts and baggi g ut tor the freezer. We butchered on Sunday and life was nonstop busy until Friday. Hubs put the meat in clean feedsacks in the refridgerator.  It is hust for our family, please don't  judge.  I figure, worse case scenario, it is dogfood.

So Friday, I went to cut it up, and it smelled like... rotten meat. Temp has been fine in the fridge.  Some occassional spots of.blue or green in the fat. Most of the fat was left on the meat, bc these pigs are very fatty. I like to shave off the thin outer layer of fat when processing and not use the skin. For.me, it is easier to get all the little hairs cleaned off that way- peel the skin off, wash thoroughly, then shave off outer layer of fat to.get all the remaining dirt or hair, wash again, then cut off the fat fir lard rendering, bag n label.for.freezer.

I'm a bit concerned about this meat, although of the 2 bags, the second bag smelled better. Hubs says it is fine but hubs will eat a lot of things so as not to waste.  I don't want to get sick. It smells lime a dead thing on the side of the road. The fat and muscle groups pulled apart easily w my hands.

Good , or toss?
 
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I vote for tossing it out...    But then I really hate being sick to my stomach.
Some of it might be fine, especially for doggy's. Myself I wouldn't take a chance.  
 
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P Colvin wrote:Aging pork?

I looked up this subject bc we had to do just that. We butchered an AGH Kune Kune sow for a bbq ourselves. Hubs put the ywo hams a d a shoukder ibto bri e for the bbq immediately, but we had to quarter the rest and put it  into a fridge we keep seperately jist for this.  I was tasked w the job of cutting up the parts and baggi g ut tor the freezer. We butchered on Sunday and life was nonstop busy until Friday. Hubs put the meat in clean feedsacks in the refridgerator.  It is hust for our family, please don't  judge.  I figure, worse case scenario, it is dogfood.

So Friday, I went to cut it up, and it smelled like... rotten meat. Temp has been fine in the fridge.  Some occassional spots of.blue or green in the fat. Most of the fat was left on the meat, bc these pigs are very fatty. I like to shave off the thin outer layer of fat when processing and not use the skin. For.me, it is easier to get all the little hairs cleaned off that way- peel the skin off, wash thoroughly, then shave off outer layer of fat to.get all the remaining dirt or hair, wash again, then cut off the fat fir lard rendering, bag n label.for.freezer.

I'm a bit concerned about this meat, although of the 2 bags, the second bag smelled better. Hubs says it is fine but hubs will eat a lot of things so as not to waste.  I don't want to get sick. It smells lime a dead thing on the side of the road. The fat and muscle groups pulled apart easily w my hands.

Good , or toss?



Definitely toss!  I've worked in custom slaughter and processing before, and we always waited until Friday to process all the hogs, so some of them hung for 4 days before processing.  There's a big difference between a home fridge and a meat processing fridge.  Our fridge is kept at 34 degrees and has a blower to keep air circulating.  The animals are hung from a rail system with the body cavity open and not touching any other animals.  It is important to have that so the outer layer can dry and become inhospitable to bacteria.  If they touch in the cooler and the fat between them is able to remain moist, that area will get really nasty.  You might have been ok if the meat had been put unwrapped in single layers on open shelving.  Putting it in the feed sacks was a bad idea because it let them remain moist and retained heat long enough to let bacteria take hold.  It's important to chill completely as quickly as possible and let the outside surface dry and become inhospitable to bacteria, which is why the commercial processing coolers have fans to circulate the air.

When you process another one, don't put it in feedsacks, and keep air space between cuts of meat.  Chilling before processing is actually safer when it comes to cutting it up because the meat retains its shape instead of swarming all over the place like it does when warm.
 
pollinator
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Good advice above..


The hogs I had slaughtered at the licensed gov. monopoly shop ended up hanging over two weeks as they didnt get around to the butchering part before xmas shutdown. If there were any issues I didn't find or hear about them.

The one I did with friends hung about 10 days in their cold room, cavity open, with a chiller but without extra precise temp regulation. It was 100% ok, nice and dry on the outside.


I think you could hang a good part of a pig in a fridge gutted of shelves, but how do you drop the humidity?
 
P Colvin
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Forwarding to hubby, bc we fought about, but we figbt about most things "farm".  I have labeled them "stinky" in the freezer, after much arguing about THAT,  and they may just "dissappear" to the dog.  Typically, when we butcher (which he also fights about), we just cut it and bag it right then.

Something tells me I'm gon a have to.grow some balls and steel myself to do the shooti g part, and then get strong enough to haul the carcass to the butcher place in the yard. Bc the man SAYS "let's do a farm" and then when it comes to "doing", there is just a heckuva lotta arguing.

Dude, I just wanna actually know what us in my food a d raise it humanely. Sigh.  
 
pollinator
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boil it all up (outside!) and label it dog food is what I would do. I'm very sensitive when it comes to that off smell and I won't touch anything with it at all. In this house it would just lurk in our freezer for ever if I thought it was bad. We used to get beef from his dad, and wow was some of it over hung, one time we picked up the carcass from the slaughter house and it had spots of 6 inch thick mold blooms on it. No one commented on this not the butcher it went to after or his dad. the butcher did a bad job of trimming it off (in my opinion and I was there for the butchering too) and the mince was nearly inedible.
A few months later we were served red burgers at their place, mine tasted so bad I couldn't eat it, but everyone else thought it tasted normal. I was the only one not to spend the next day throwing up. Normal my a*?#!. The 70kg of meat we got from that animal I unpacked and heavily trimmed before putting it in the freezer and all the mince was served very very cook and in curry or chili.
 
P Colvin
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Sadly, hubs was still throwing a fit about it. He grew up poor, and he also was VERY against killing a pig. Any pig. He just hates it. I get to man up, it is my farm. He only wants to do the fun stuff. But he does carry around the 80 ln feed sacks and big hay bales, so I'll keep him. I'm thankful that he has stepped right into the "man" roles of doing the heavy stuff. He used to not know to do those things for a female. Nobody ever taught him.  I was raised to be both traditional and independent, and our relationship is so strange and crosses over many of the traditional roles. I carry a sidearm and he won't.  He cooks and I don't. He won't do housekeeping and I do. He prefers to drive. He also prefers to do the fencing. lol And who cleans and puts away the tools? Sharpens the knives? That would be me. Bc discarded and rusty tools drive me nuts. I weld.  I crawl under the truck. Hubs does fluids now, and he always changes the tire. They are heavy. But I can.  Or we change car parts together. Infux the electronics. Us girls were raised by a DIYer and mechanic. Kiddo did her own brakes. And both of us know when we are getting the "girl" treatment in a  auto shop and call them on their b.s. Yet hubs is the one that can lead around the cow, simply bc she likes him and pushes me around. And I do all the paperwork.

But I digress ...  The meat.  He threw a fit about the meat. It went in the freezer, and before I could find time to sneak it away and make it dissappear.  It was labelled as "stinky", and then my daughter came and raided my freezer and garden. I explained to her about the meat and she took it anyway. She is smart, she will toss it if it is icky. She is also dirt poor right now, so a bit less picky.  And hubs has done this thing about meat (that time from the food bank, and it was freezer burnt, orange and VERY old pork) before when she was 13 and he was the only one that ate it while me and kiddo set there n watched him get sick n said "I told ya so".  But ideally, her spoiled rotten, useless boyfriend will eat it, and once again be reminded of why he likes it better in his mommy's basement (literally, they lived in her basement. Stereotypical video game playin,  nonworking buffoon), and maybe run away home.  One can only hope.  Yes, I'm a horrible person. I housed this 28 yr old boy for 6 months and then sent him packing to his mother's on a Greyhound bus, more than a lot of folks would have done. Sadly, my daughter followed. She's "in love".  That's what the kids are calling it these days.  .

So the meat has gone to good use, either way.
 
pollinator
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Haha, reminds me of watching someone I know cook and eat a store-bought chicken that sat in the fridge for 7 days and was turning GREEN.  They insisted that because it was shrink-wrapped in plastic, it couldn't go rotten.  He was throwing up for 2 days but still insisted it wasn't the green chicken.


Anyway.  I'm a HUGE fan of aging meat.  My personal preference is to brine.  I brine EVERYTHING.  Poultry, rabbits, squirrels, pigs, deer, beef, rats- I mean, uh.  You don't need to know EVERYTHING I eat, I guess.... *cough*.  Anyway.

I like a good salty brine with a splash of vinegar.  I've also brined with salt and hard alcohol (just an experiment with some sake someone gave me, since I don't drink, came out very sweet!).  The meat tenderizes and to me the meat acquires less "animal" taste and more sweetness.   I like to brine AT LEAST over night, but have brined for up to 10 days.   I try to keep the water as chilly as possible. If I don't have access to ice for it, I make it extra salty.  Granted I use unrefined salt, NOT sodium chloride.  Unrefined salt is comprised of dozens of natural minerals.  It doesn't have a sharp, pungent, penetrating "salt" taste that refined sodium chloride does.  

For small birds and chickens, 1-3 days is my usual for bringing.  I like using ACV for the fruity zing.
I've brined turkeys up to 10 days. OH MAN.  Talk about a good bird.
Red meats I try to brine 3-7 days.  I change red meat brine more frequently (daily) as it leeches the blood out of the muscle.  
Pork I've brined for 10-12 days.  It's been the most prone to absorbing salty taste, so it needs a good rinsing or a soak in non-salted water when its done.  I don't worry about the fat during brining, ever had a problem with it as long as it's ice-cold.

Brines can be pure salt, or like I said you can add vinegars (or alcohols...? I have no idea about the chemical process on those, I just did it the once with sake.  Alcohol WILL preserve meat, so I don't see why it wouldn't work just as well as cooking vinegar).    You can also flavor the meat by adding cut fruit (apples, citrus, etc).  My partner brined his bacon in fresh pressed apple cider once, he says it was out of this world.   I've also thrown in herbs, like cloves and such, to cold-steep in the brine and lightly influence the meat flavor and aroma.

There's a LOT of fun stuff you can do!

The salt content in the brine is another thing.  I've read "enough salt to float a potato", and woah.  Wanna talk about salty.   For our pork, we follow the guidelines of "1 cup salt to 1 gallon water".  that works well but leaves the pork pretty salty.  When I do smaller batches of meat or smaller animals, I just kind of wing it.  The colder and more icy I can keep the water, I add a little less salt.  If I have less access to ice I make it saltier.  The salt help inhibit bacterial growth; which DOESN'T indicate 'dangerous evil microbes'!  Normal bacterial growth in meat is part of an organic process that begins breaking down the muscle fibers and is basically the precursor to full-on decomposition.  Bacteria doesn't automatically mean E. Coli or something like that!  

I find that I enjoy and digest meats much better when I've aged/brined them properly.  During the process, I check on the meat every day, or multiple times per day.  I stir it, make sure it's fully submerged, and if for any reason I'm at all worried about it, I pull it out, wash it, and give it a good sniff.  If its scent at all indicates a shift towards decomp to me, I immediately stop the brine and use or freeze the meat.  That only happens when I muss my process or brines up though (not enough salt, water too warm, left it too long, etc.).
 
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