Monday, March 19, 2012

Pictures of the pig butchering - part 1

You are being warned: if you don't want to see pictures of a pig being butchered, then DON'T READ ANY MORE OF THIS POST! I did try to be judicious in my choice of pictures, so you won't see the ones which I thought might be most offensive - but it wouldn't be possible to illustrate the butchering of a pig without showing pictures with some level of "yuck." And honestly, I thought the process was pretty fascinating, so I'd like to share the photos with those who want to see them.

Nuff said? Ready or not, here we go . . .

First, the guys had to get the biggest of the pigs out of the pig fortress, and tied to a tree where they had decided to do the butchering. During this part of the dry season there aren't many leaves on the trees, but they hoped for some shade while they worked. They also wanted to use the tree to hang up the pig carcass, so they could butcher it off the ground. (We looked at blogs and videos of butcherings - sometimes this is done with the pig lying out horizontally, sometimes with the pig hanging head down. Russell - who is in charge of this event - chose the head-down position.)

Russell borrowed a pistol from one of his Honduran relatives, and used that to shoot the pig in the brain. After being shot, the pig flailed about quite a bit. I knew this would happen, from our research (I liken it to the "chicken running around with it's head cut off" scenario), but it was a bit of a nuisance. We'd read that we needed to cut the pig's neck as quickly as possible, while the pig's heart was still beating, as the pumping of the heart would help push out all of the pig's blood. Working together, the three guys together held down the now-dead pig, and "stuck" it in the neck, to drain out the blood.

Next, the guys worked on removing the hair. Here in Honduras the pig skin is always cooked up into a treat - pork rinds. So, the hair removal had to be done quite thoroughly - nobody wants to eat hairy pork rinds! In our internet research, we mostly saw people immersing the entire carcass into a huge kettle of boiling water, which would loosen the hair so that it could then be scraped off. The process here involves adding chalk to boiling hot water, pouring the chalky water over part of the hog, covering that part with sacks to hold in the heat, scraping the hair from that part, then repeating this process until the hair is removed from the entire animal.

Removing all of the hair took a long time. It worried me a bit, as we have to keep this whole process moving along, to get the meat into the freezer before it starts to spoil. Tools used for the scraping involved putty knives, the edges of sharp knives, and broken pieces of ceramic roofing tile.

There was a lot of hair on one little pig! It's easy to see how people used to gather enough to stuff furniture with!

After the pig was hung up on the tree, the hair removal process continued, until the guys were finally satisfied with the job.

Then the pig's head was cut off. No pictures of that will be posted . . . feel free to thank me.

Russell carefully makes the first cut. Cutting too deep could open up the intestines, causing no end of grief. Since Russell hadn't ever done this before, he took it slow.

Here are the guts, all removed from the carcass. We kept the liver, for Allen, Russell took the heart (just because he thought it would be fun to try eating one of the edible organs), and the rest of the edible parts of the guts were given to the workers. I hope you're not grossed out by this picture. I find it oddly beautiful, myself.

Next the carcass was washed down, in preparation for cutting up the meat!

That's all for today - I have other things to do besides blogging, you know. For instance, I need to mix up some cures to turn some of this meat into bacon and ham. Yummy - I hope!


Anonymous said...

I'm odd, too, then, because I paused at the guts pic and thought, "that. is. so. cool!"

I'm loving these pig posts. Far more than the pig, I'm sure. Keep 'em coming, and the more pics the better...

Can you post the recipes and deets (and pics??) for the sausage and bacon making?


Erika said...

I agree that the guts are oddly beautiful. I love how they are all intact and glistening. Looks like your butchers did a fantastic job researching how to get it done!

Anonymous said...

I'm a true city slicker, so this is new to me--the guts are so remarkably clean. It appears the novice butcher did a great job. I'm glad you did it now and didn't save it for a "team" activity!!

Jane Mc