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pig-to-sausag-art - 8/31/98


From pig to sausage. A series of notes by Mordonna DuBois.


NOTE: See also these files: butchering-msg, butch-goat-art, sausages-msg, meat-smoked-msg, p-pigs-msg, hunting-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



Date: Sat, 18 Jul 1998 02:38:34 EDT

From: Mordonna22 at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - sausage and ham smoking


stefan at texas.net writes:

<< Since you have had some experience in actually making sausage and ham and perhaps other meat preserving techniques, I would love to hear more details.>>


It was a complex and daunting undertaking, our extended family (6 or 7 adults)  always invited another family to help, and we went to their "butcherings" to help.  There are several specialties involved.


We always began in the pre-dawn hours of a winter day, at least a month after

the first killing frost.  The young and inexperienced (watched by an elder)  built and tended the fires (at least two).If we were killing swine, his head was placed in a yoke with a bucket of feed under him to prevent him from being afraid.  


Then the "knacker" would give him one short, hard rap between and slightly above the eyes with a hammer, dropping him where he stood.  A good knacker could kill most swine with one hit. For beef, we usually depended on a rifle bullet, as a steer's head is a bit thicker than a boar's. The throat was immediately cut, and the animal hung by it's back legs to drain. While the carcass was draining we gutted it and removed the entrails, being VERY careful to remove the bile duct without rupturing it.  (Bile can defile an entire carcass)


We then removed the hair by pouring boiling water over small patches of hair at a time and using dull knives to pull the hair out. Using a sharp knife tends to shave the hair and leave the roots in the skin. Then we broke up into three crews.  One to deal with the entrails and sausage and one to cut and portion the meat and one to tend the fires and the cook pots and lard pots.


Meat was portioned into pretty standard cuts:  Hams, shoulders, ribs, hocks. The neck bone and tail were special cuts to be saved for feasting later.  With Pork, we usually also cut a section about six inches wide from the length of the backbone.  This was known as "white meat" or "Preacher meat".  It is especially pale and tasty.  Any meat scraps were put in container for sausage, and we usually cut the meat from the skull and one shoulder for sausage. Sometimes, (if we had a lot of friends wanting to buy sausage) we would cut the entire pig up for sausage (saving the backstrap for our selves).


All the fat that could be removed was placed into a large pot over a moderately hot fire and stirred often until it was rendered. The entrails crew would clean the liver,  heart,  "lights" (pancreas), lungs, "tripes" (stomach), kidneys  intestines, and the hooves. The liver, lights, hooves, and lungs were thrown into a pot along with what remained of the skull, and some salt, pepper, onions, cayennes, and a bit of coriander.  This pot was allowed to boil over a hot fire, stirred constantly with a boat paddle especially reserved for the purpose. The tripe and intestines were especially difficult  to clean, and took a LOT of scraping and clear water.  We also often bought commercially prepared sheep intestines for our sausage making, which are sold salted, and had to be soaked and rinsed in clear water several times before being used. The tripe and the heart were sometimes thrown into the pot with the other entrails, and sometimes reserved to be fried for special treats at a later date. If the hams were to be frozen, or eaten immediately (within a week)  they were iced down then refrigerated. If they were to be hung they were packed into salt before they cooled. All the scraps, and the shoulder and head meat were ground fine, then mixed with a combination that included salt, pepper, cayennes, coriander, brown sugar, sage, and other savory spices according to our tastes.  We had our specialist herbalist to spice the sausage.  She is the lady I have spoken of before.  My foster-mother-in-law/great-aunt-in-law/fourth-cousin-in-law.  She was seventy when I met her in 1965, and Corwyn met her last summer.  She still spices the sausage for most of the community.


Sorry about the extended use of bandwidth.  There is much more I could tell, probably, but my memory needs jogging by your questions.  It has been thirteen years since I left there.


Mordonna DuBois



Date: Sat, 18 Jul 1998 08:59:55 EDT

From: Mordonna22 at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Sausage Making


Please forgive the length of my post on butchering.  About half way through I realized I should break it into smaller lessons.  Thus, we shall begin with making sausage.


First, allow me to make a correction.  I called pigs feet “hooves”.  My in-laws called them: ”trotters.” For traditional sausage, we used the meat from one or both shoulders and the head, plus any scrap meat trimmed from any of the other cuts.  We also added fat equal to 1/3 to 1/2 the mass of the lean meat.  The lean meat and fat were cut into pieces of roughly one cubic inch.  This was then put through a coarse grind, then a medium grind.


Seasonings were then added.  I have often been up to my elbows and beyond mixing seasoning into sausage.  Be sure the seasonings are well mixed.  We generally reserved the pork chitterlings either for a dish unto themselves, or to stuff the head pudding.  For sausage we usually used commercially processed “casings”:  salted sheep intestines.  These had to be soaked 30 min. or so in warm water, then rinsed two or three times in cold water, then kept in ice water until stuffed.


The meat mixture was fed into a sausage stuffer, and the casings threaded unto the feed pipe, and the mixture forced into the casings. Once stuffed, there were a variety of ways to store the meat:


        First, if it was to be eaten within a week, you simply kept it in a covered container in the refrigerator until cooked.


        Second, if it was to be frozen, it was cut into suitable lengths and placed in freezer bags.  It would keep about 2 to 3 months like this.


        Third, you might can the sausage.  Using a water bath with salt added, you boiled whole lengths of sausage until done, then canned in glass fruit jars.  This process preserved for a year or so.


        Fourth we might dry it.  Hang in a cool, dry, dark place. It will keep like this without refrigeration for a week to ten days.


        Fifth we might smoke it.  I recommend hanging over a low fire of well dried hickory for three to four days.  It should keep a month or so without refrigeration if kept in a cool, dry, dark place.


If you make blood sausage or onion sausage,  you should not freeze, under any circumstances.  Freezing drastically alters the flavor. Best to use within a week to ten days of butchering.  Canning is feasable, but diminishes the flavors.


Mordonna (now I’ll have nightmares about being up to my elbows)



Date: Sat, 18 Jul 1998 09:04:54 EDT

From: Mordonna22 at aol.com

Subject: SC - Fwd: Sausage Recipes


We made four different kinds of sausage on the farm:   Traditional Sausage   Hot Sausage   Onion Sausage   Blood Sausage


I have added a recipe for low fat sausage.


You understand that the quantities we dealt with were huge, I have cut down to the best of my ability.  Any of these may be stuffed, or stored as bulk sausage.



1 pkg. sheep’s casings

4 lbs. lean pork

1 lb. pork fat

2 teaspoons each of the following (can be altered more or less to taste or

     omitted):  salt, pepper, sage, ground fresh coriander seed, brown sugar


About an hour before stuffing the sausage, open the casings.


Place them in a bowl of warm water and allow to soak for 30 minutes.


Drain and rinse in cold water three times. Add ice water to keep them until used.


Grind together meat and fat using first a coarse grind then a medium grind. Be sure to mix meat and seasonings thoroughly.


Thread casings onto the spout of the sausage stuffer and force meat mixture gently into the casings.


Allowing to sit for a few days in the refrigerator after it has been stuffed marries the flavors better.




Use 5 lbs of very lean pork and NO additional fat.




To the above recipe, add 4 or 5 whole dried cayenne peppers to the first grinding of the meat. (More or less to taste)




Grind 2 large or 3 small yellow onions with the meat, spice only with salt and pepper.




Add 1 pint swine blood when grinding the meat.  Spice with salt and pepper. Go a bit lighter on the salt and a bit heavier on the pepper.





Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 09:11:26 EDT

From: Mordonna22 at aol.com

Subject: SC - Lard making, and chitterlings


By this point in the butchering, about all you have left of the hog should be the skin and fat,   Actually they are the first to go.  It is easiest to remove the skin and fat in strips while the carcass is still hanging.  Slice strips about 2 to 3 inches wide in the skin and use a very sharp knife to help pull and peel the fat and skin from the entire carcass, except the hams. The two strips from around the belly incision can be reserved for the pot meat.  Cut the rest of the strips into pieces about 1/2 inch wide. Place into a large cast iron pot together with perhaps a bit of water.  Place on a hot fire, and stir constantly for an hour or more, until all the fat is rendered. Strain through cheesecloth into sanitized metal or plastic tubs. Seal and store at room temperature for up to one year.  A 100 lb. pig usually makes 3to 5 gallons of lard.




Never eat chitterlings you have not cleaned yourself!


Remove the stomach and intestines from the carcass.  


Separate the stomach from the intestines.  


Carefully drain the contents into an offal pit.  (A hog was generally starved for a day or two before butchering to help with this process.)  The stomach (known as the "Maw") should be split open and rinsed thoroughly three or four times, then the inner lining should be scraped repeatedly until all the green and brown slime is removed, then rinsed several more times.  Carefully rinse the intestines several times.  Turn them inside out and treat the same.


To cook, boil in salted water until tender.  Drain. Dredge with flour, salt, and pepper.  Deep fry.  DELICIOUS!


Of course, there are many things more I could discuss, such as pickling pig feet, and making souse meat, but I think I don't want to burn anybody out on the subject.  I have given you a lot of info to digest........enjoy!





Date: Sun, 26 Jul 1998 22:03:43 EDT

From: Mordonna22 at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - medieval bacon


PhlipinA at aol.com writes:

>> What was the medieval definition of bacon? And how was if usually cooked?


> Stefan,

> I've been wondering about the definition of bacon as well. I've been working

> on my own translation of the copy of Anthimus that Cariadoc sent me, and

> throughout, the word "lardus" has been translated as bacon- I've been

> wondering if a more proper translation of the word might be "pork", as it

> speaks of taking "bacon" from the leg of the pig. Any insight, anybody?


> Phlip


I know if it comes from the leg, it ain't bacon by today's definition.  We made bacon from the part of the pig between the rib cage and the hams.  That portion on the front of the pig was usually fattier, and sometimes called fatback, or sowbelly.  The part toward the pig's spine usually had more lean than fat, and was called bacon or streak-o'-lean.


Fatback was either cut up for the lard pot, or salted. This is what was known as salt pork. Bacon was either salted, smoked, or boiled and smoked.





Date: Sun, 26 Jul 1998 22:21:02 EDT

From: Mordonna22 at aol.com

Subject: SC - What to do with the head


The head of the hog contains three delicacies:

        The ears

        The tongue

        The Brain

The ears are carefully cleaned and boiled until tender then boiled in a pickling brine with the feet and canned.


The tongue is rinsed, and scraped, and rinsed, and scraped, and rinsed, and scraped until clean then either reserved to be served as a treat boiled with onion or sliced, parboiled, battered, and deep fried.


The brain was reserved for our knacker.  He never failed to have a breakfast the next morning of eggs scrambled with pig's brain.




<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org