Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hog Butchering 2011

On Saturday, we had another hog butchering. I've been amazed that these annual butchering posts have been some of the most popular on this blog. As usual, we do things the old way. Scalding the hog, making pon haus, smoking pork loin, curing hams - a lot of work, but fun with family and friends and a whole lot of good eating.

Instead of just sharing pictures, I shot a few videos to give you a little better taste of the day. If reading this in a feed reader or email, you may need to click over the blog to view the videos. I tried to be tactful in not showing too much gore, but this is a butchering so there will be blood.

First cutting up the meat. We did four hogs this year. Everyone pitches in and the work proceeded very smoothly.

This video shows grinding the meat into sausage and making links. In past years, grinding and stuffing sausage were two steps. My brother just acquired this grinder/stuffer which made the process much faster.

Next is straining the lard. After the lard is ladled into the stuffer, it is pressed. The remaining "cracklings" are ground and added to the puddin' - a seasoned meat mixture.

I was recently asked for our pon haus (also known as scrapple) recipe. This video shows why I can't give out recipes. There is no measuring. Salt and pepper are added to the broth until it tastes right. Then flour and cornmeal are added until it is thick enough.

At one of the most crucial parts of butchering, the pon haus and puddin' are briskly stirred. When the pon haus is thick enough, the  pot needs to be immediately removed from the heat, and ladled into pans. The men struggle to move this heavy pot of scalding hot pon haus while still stirring the pot to keep it from sticking. Almost out of sight in the video is Joe, our old neighbor, who though in poor health, was still able to come and make sure we young ones did it right.

And a few still pictures...

 The scalding trough

Table full of pon haus.

One of the old timers who are teaching the skill to the younger ones.

The future generation.

A youngster already learning.

First butchering day, for three more young men. (Just to keep from confusion, for those of you who know these young ladies, they are not all holding their own babies!)

I'm sure this looks like a crazy way to spend a Saturday. By evening I was completely exhausted, and I had not been up at 4:00 like the men! But it is great fun and I'm already looking forward to next year!

Go to last year's butchering post for more information on home butchering.


  1. I love how it brings people together! That would be my favorite part! Enjoy your pork! :)
    Karen T.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this special day with us. We all sat down and watched all your videos. They brought back so many happy memories for me. As a girl growing up we always looked forward to hog butchering day. I certainly wish we lived close to you all. I would love for us to get to participate in this day with you all. Thanks again and God bless.

  3. I can see how this would be a popular post. We used to do more butchering when we had the whole family home. It is rewarding to know exactly what you are eating. Thanks

  4. This is so fascinating to me. I would love to be able to do this. I'm amazed at all of the equipment that you have to be able to pull this off! I'm curious as to what pon haus is, though. I've never heard of it before.

  5. Brings back memories for me too. Though I don't remember much, except helping with the sausage stuffing. So good to see you are keeping the family traditions alive!

  6. What a wonderful way to keep traditon alive and teaching the next generation. Wished I could have watched and learned myself though your blog sure gives a little climp of what it would have been like

  7. Me to Karen I love how they get together and do things! We all need to learn how to do this! I wish our neighborhood would get together and do things. I was telling my husband just yesterday, if we were in an Amish community or Mennonite comm. our piles of tree limbs would already be cleaned up out in front of our yard. We got some large limbs cut off our large oaks out front and planned on cutting them up for firewood. We had started working on the pile by ourselves when we all came down with the stomach flu. My husband is feeling better now so he got out yesterday and picked up some more of the piles of wood he had cut up. We still lack one tree but it's not as much as the other one was.
    When I lived with my grandpa we used to do hogs at this time of the year to. We kept the ears, feet etc. for Grandma to make the hog head cheese. I've never heard of the Pon haus stuff before. I had to look it up to see what that was. Is it like potted meat? I know ya'll had lots of fun doing this. We used to cook the cracklings in a huge black pot and now I can't think of what it's called. We had to wear long dresses but we still got our legs cooked from the fire around the pot.

  8. Awww---seeing those videos really makes me wish I were a part of a big Mennonite family! Thanks for sharing your day with us.

  9. Hi Gina
    What a fantastic post ~ I was sitting here with all my kids with me & we were talking about how you were butchering your hogs ~ something we're hoping to do once our hogs breed & the young ones grow big enough. We felt like we've had a visit to your butchering so thank you!
    Have a wonderful day
    Renata:) ~ & kids :)

  10. WOW! That looks like it would be alot of fun! I've never seen a hog butchering before....well, until now! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Hi Gina and all,

    I was not raised in a community that worked together, and missed out! As an adult, I have found wonderful opportunities to work in community, and there is truly something so blessed about it. I recently joined a local "Can-Can Club" where a bunch of us get together to can stuff. Such a joy to visit, and before you know it, the work is done!! I am always exhausted too, after one of these monthly events, but smiling and happy.
    Thanks for posting!!

  12. Oh this looks like this was such a fun day for your whole family!! Exhausting, no doubt, but what wonderful memories you're making for that next generation!

  13. I love butchering day!!!
    Its definately a skill lost on the younger generations, I am so glad we continue on in our family!!

  14. I really enjoyed your videos, and remember my Dad talking about hog butchering when he was a kid.
    I had heard of pon haus before but never really knew what it was, so it was nice to be able to see how it's made.
    Such a spirit of community and family, and one day maybe we'll be watching your children making these same videos as adults!
    Oh, and I enjoyed your garden tour videos, too. :)

  15. Looks like you all had a productive and happy day. I wish there were more folks around here that did these kinds of things. Sometimes I feel like an odd ball, not many share the same thought on this way of life. God Bless

  16. I love that you shared this post! My hubby has home butchered twice, but he skins the hogs because he didn't know how to scald them or have the equipment. I do try to use the lard, but have had a few issues, After it is ground, do you render it? Do you ever get a meaty scent or flavor? Do you freeze or can to preserve? And do you cure the bacon? Sorry to ask so many questions, Maggie18

  17. Thanks for all your comments.

    I'll try to answer a few of your questions.

    Pon haus, also called scrapple is made with the broth. Salt, pepper, flour and cornmeal is added and heated to make a thick mush. This is cooled in containers. It becomes solid when cool. We eat it by slicing, frying in a skillet and serving with syrup like pancakes. We love it - but maybe it is an acquired taste!

    We do cure out bacons along with our hams. After rendering the lard, we store in a cool dry place, like a cellar. It keeps for about a year without canning or freezing.

    Feel free to ask more questions and I'll try to answer!

  18. I love to hear about keeping old traditions alive. I so wish I would have been raised in a family that would unite and carry out life sustaining projects as yours. May God bless all of you in keeping your way of life alive!


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