What do you get back from a whole hog?

These spreads of cuts are from a single pig that had a hanging weight of 173 lbs. (Approx 250 lbs live weight)

Not shown: Head and bellies (they were curing)

Tail: 1.14 lb

Hocks: 11.32 lb

Kidney: 2.31 lb

Liver: 2.65 lb

Trotters Ears

Jowls: 2.89 lb

St Louis Ribs: 4.05 lb

Riblets: 3.44 lb

Heart: .75 lb

Ham Steaks: 11.02 lb

Sausages: 48 lb

Shoulder steaks: 11.39 lb

Sirloin chops: 5.08 lb

Back fat: 7.39

Porterhouse chops: 7.87 lb

Leaf lard: 2.28 lb

Soup bones: 7 lb

Rib chops: 8.74 lb

Skin: 16 lb

Neck bones: 3 lb

We have a lot of sausage because we chosen to use the picnic shoulder and one of the boston butts in the sausage.

This pig was not terribly fat, he was leaner. Most pigs would yield more back fat and leaf lard.

Bellies yielded about 10 lbs of bacon.

Kunekune Pork Osso Buco with Chanterelles, Polenta and Gremolata 

 

An easy & flavorful interpretation of the Northern Italian classic, featuring pork shank instead of veal.

One large pork shank, skin removed.

Salt & pepper shank, dredge in flour and brown on all sides in olive oil, set to side.

Add 2 minced cloves of garlic, one carrot, one stick celery and one onion, diced- to olive oil, add salt, cook until transparent.

Add one cup dry white wine and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, stir well and reduce liquid by half over low heat.

Add pork shank back in, add one cup chicken broth, cover and cook on low until meat is falling off the bone- this time ranges based on size of shank.

Sautee chanterelles in olive oil.

Prepare polenta.

Plate and serve!

Gremolata is a finely diced parsley, garlic & lemon zest added as a final step.

Buon appetito!

What is “Rare Breed” Pork?

 

The question often comes up… what exactly is “rare breed” pork?

Simply put, it’s pork from rare breeds of swine. All rare breeds are heritage breeds, but not all heritage breeds are rare! In many cases, rare breed pork is produced by breed conservators working to secure the future of the rare breeds they work with. Animals have traceable pedigrees and parent stock is registered. Sometimes rare breed pork may be a cross of two rare breeds, such as a Meishan/Kunekune or Meishan/Gloucester Old Spots cross.

The pigs we raise are rare breeds. The Kunekune pig, utilized as we are, for pork production, is incredibly rare for pork use- most Kunekune pigs are sold as pets. The American Kunekune Pig Registry has averaged approximately 1000 piglets born annually over the last fifteen years, but of those, only an average of 300 piglets per year were actually registered as breeding stock (source: AKPR Herd Book). If the Livestock Conservancy did place the Kunekune pig under study, these statistics would place the Kunekune under “Threatened” status, which equates to less than 1,000 animals being registered per annum. “Critically Endangered” status is 200 or less registrations per year, which means the Kunekune are much closer to being Critically Endagered, than they are Threatened. Rare breed pork? You bet. Very rare, and in need of our stewardship.

In the 70’s, the Kunekune was almost extinct- just eighteen pigs saved the breed that today, is recovering. As the Kunekune is very rarely used for pork, it isn’t considered on many livestock lists, or pages showcasing rare breeds. The number of producers offering Kunekune pork in the USA is extremely small- a google search doesn’t yield much about Kunekune pork, or where to purchase it. Our farm is one of few offering USDA cuts and value added products. Commercially available Kunekune pork is a rarity, and dedicated breeders are seeking to change that!

The Meishan pig is globally threatened and under study with the Livestock Conservancy. The number of Meishan pigs in the United States is extremely small, and an even more minute percentage is registered.

The moniker “Rare Breed Pork” is often used erroneously.  Example (in the USA) Berkshire isn’t a rare breed.  Duroc isn’t a rare breed. Or Landrace. Or Yorkshire. Or Spots. Or Poland China. Or Bluebutt (that’s a cross!). Or Hampshire. Yorkshire is the most common breed of pig in the United States. Berkshire is the THIRD most common! (source: Pork.org). The former examples could/would more accurately be “Heritage Pork”in some cases (such as utilization of old lines from breeders raising for old fashioned, non-commercialized attributes), although for all intents and purposes, many of the breeders were “modernized” for muscle, leanness, fast growth, and less fat.

So, what breeds in the United STates ARE rare breeds?

Kunekune (Considered rare in the USA, especially for pork production. Conservation status listed with zoos nationwide as “not studied, considered rare” Kunekunes were originally raised for pork by the indigenous Maori people, but most in the UK and US see the breed as a pet)

Meishan * – Critically endangered as per Livestock Conservancy – Fewer than 200 annual registrations in the United States and estimated global population less than 2,000)

Ossabaw *

Mangalitsa – An imported rare breed from Hungary.

Gloucester Old Spots (not to be confused with “spots” or “old spots”– these latter two are not the same breed as the GOS!)

Red Wattle *

Mulefoot *

Choctaw *

American Guinea Hog *

Large Black *

Hereford *

Tamworth *

Saddleback *

* – asterisk breeds are listed rare with Livestock Conservancy.

 

Praise the Lard!

 

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Lard. The word itself often evokes a visceral reaction. Known as “saindoux” in French, “strutto” in Italian, “schmalz” in German, “manteca” in Spanish, and “laridum” in Latin, the word’s etymological source… lard is often used as both a negative connotation and an insult.

Did you ever wonder why most people today see lard as something disgusting and unpalatable? One hundred years ago, lard was found in every home, not only as a primary cooking & baking fat, but also in personal care products and candles. It was also used industrially as a machining lubricant.

Lard fell out of favor in the early 1900’s and is slowly but surely making a comeback. So how did lard fall from grace? It was essentially, a carefully planned corporate coup.

First, there was Upton Sinclair, whose novel “The Jungle” painted an unseemly portrait of meat packing in general, and the fact that the fictional work portrayed men falling into boiling lard rendering vats. Sinclair wrote The Jungle to expose the appalling working conditions in the meat-packing industry. His description of the working conditions and meat itself shocked the public and led to new federal food safety laws.

Next? Crisco. Proctor & Gamble created Crisco in 1910, the hydrogenated vegetable oil that looks like lard. It’s sole purpose was to replace lard in every American kitchen and utilize the cottonseed oil production chain formerly used to create candles. With the invention of the light bulb, candle production waned. Excess oil needed a use- and that use was hydrogenated vegetable oil. Proctor & Gamble led the one of the most expansive food advertising campaigns ever, to boost Crisco while demonizing lard. They gave it away for free, produced cookbooks and ran advertisements that claimed it was more digestible and healthier than lard. Lard wasn’t completely out of the picture, but it’s use was no longer dominant.

Then, in the 1950’s scientists joined in nay-saying lard, with medical claims that saturated fats, such as those found in lard, caused heart disease. Turns out… they were ALL wrong. And it’s actually Crisco and highly processed vegetable oils and hydrogenation that is what’s unhealthy.

Fast forward to the present, where we see lard becoming more accepted and even welcomed- by local food, farm to table movements, pastured livestock farming, and nose-to-tail utilization of humanely raised animals.

To make things more complicated, all pigs are not created equal. There are “lard breeds” and there are “bacon breeds”. Lard breeds are your old fashioned type of pigs, which fatten easily and produced copious amounts of fine-grained, buttery, firm and delicious lard. Lard breeds are compact and thick, with deep bodies and short legs. They include swine such as Kunekune, Meishan, American Guinea Hog, Ossabaw, Mangalitsa, and Potbelly. Bacon breeds are your commercial meat producers. They are lean, long and muscular and include breeds such as Tamworth, Duroc, Hereford, Yorkshire and Modern Berkshire. Some breeds have a little bit of both! These include English Berkshire, Gloucester Old Spots, Large Black, Red Wattle, and Mulefoot, to name a few. Most pastured pork producers utilize cross-breeds of various bacon-type breeds. Very few use lard breeds because they are smaller, and can take 3-4 times longer to grow out to a smaller weight, at that. Combined with the higher amount of fat on their carcass, they are frequently shunned by pastured pork farmers. We go against the grain by working exclusively with lard breeds. Why? Taste. There is nothing quite like the taste of slow-grown, intricately marbled meat from a lard pig. And the fat quality is unrivaled. All of the lard pig breeds other than potbelly pigs (typically seen as pets) are seen as rare and in some cases, critically or globally endangered. This makes a farmer’s work with them both valuable and important- a form of breed conservation through utilization. Breed the best, eat the rest!

Here’s an example between an old fashioned (English) Berkshire boar, and a modernized American one- selectively bred for fast growth and meat production. The English type is more of a lard type.

But back to lard… the lard you find in the modern grocery store is hydrogenated and shelf stable. Don’t buy this- it isn’t even remotely the same type of product you’d get from small farmers raising swine on pasture and in forest land. Pigs raised outdoor with natural forage, grasses, and a potentially omnivorous diet (pigs can and do eat snakes, amphibians, insects, and more!) produce fats with a much healthier lipid profile, as well as more vitamin D. Better than butter? We sure think so! Lard is lower in saturated fat than other animal fats like butter and tallow, and higher in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat—the type that gives olive oil its popularity. Lard has a high smoke point, making it a choice cooking and frying oil. And it’s one of the best fats to use in baking, especially biscuits or pie crusts!

We offer lard in several ways. At this time, we don’t offer plain, rendered lard. We do offer leaf lard (the internal fat), and back fat (the layer of fat found on the back and partway down the sides). Lard is very easy to render at home, store in the refrigerator or freezer, and utilize as a cooking fat. Southern cuisine is well-known for incorporating “salted fatback”, which is a salt-cured form of the fatback, usually offered sliced. We carry this as well. But our most unique and delicious product utilizing the creamy & pristine fat from our rare breed pigs is our Whipped Lardo, also known as “Crema di Lardo”.

The first time I experienced this was while traveling in central Italy. Umbria, to be exact- during wild boar season. Connor and I ate many dishes with “cinghiale”, and at one point experienced whipped lardo made with leaf fat combined with herbs & spices, vinegar and garlic. It was heaven!

Whipped Lardo can be used wherever you use cooking oils, fats or butter, and it incorporates both your cooking fat and your seasoning! We currently offer it in five different varieties: Rosemary & Garlic, Red Pepper & Fennel, WIldflower Honey & Sea Salt, Italian Herb, and Herbes de Provence. We are one of only a few farms in the entire United States that is producing Whipped Lardo for resale, and at this time- the only farm in South Carolina! Our rare breed lard pigs are exceptionally well-suited to producing the type of premium fat that is utilized in the lardo. In Italy, historically lardy breeds, often acorn-finished- are utilized as well.

We also utilize our lard in personal care products, such as handcrafted lard soaps, salves and balms. Our aim is to fully utilize the whole hog, and the fat is where it’s at! A portion of the hog that many modern-day producers simply end up discarding, for us- is an extremely important product that we choose to utilize and elevate!

Some more interesting reading about lard:

https://www.thedailymeal.com/healthy-eating/5-reasons-why-lard-new-coconut-oil

http://www.asiaone.com/health/pork-fat-ranked-among-top-10-most-nutritious-foods-report

https://www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/a20488068/should-you-be-eating-lard/

 

 

Sticky sesame riblets with spring onions

Something tasty is marinating!

Sticky ginger sesame ribs from our rare breed heritage pigs & riblets is what’s for dinner! We’re pairing them with a farm-grown romaine salad with a sesame dressing. Our ribs and riblets are smaller in size, so they are easy to thaw, marinate and prepare. How do you like your ribs?

Update- these ribs were a hit. For some reason, our customer demographic doesn’t purchase riblets, so we’re always looking for great recipes to prepare them with. I think if more people knew how delicious they were, they’d fly out of the freezer quite fast!

Get the recipe HERE.

Pork steaks marinated in honey/yogurt/garlic/turmeric glaze, with beet & snow pea salad

Part of a modern farmer’s job is showing you delicious, seasonal things that you can cook with our products!

I love to cook and wish I could cook like this every day. Alas, my days are usually much more simple and speedy fare with the hectic schedule that we keep.

This is a fresh Meishan ham steak (fresh, not cured thin sliced pork steak) marinated overnight in a yogurt/honey/garlic/turmeric mixture and pan-seared about 3 minutes per side. If this were supermarket pork, you’d says “gosh, that’s raw!” But this is heritage pork, that starts off as red as beef… so the finished color is also pink, not white. This is just my preference for cooking, I consider this to be “medium”.

We fixed this over jasmine rice, with a chilled beet and snow pea salad over the top, using Chioggia and golden beets from the garden, green onion, and snow peas. It was delicious!

If you’d like snow peas or beets to pick up at the Saturday market, send me a PM. I’ll be custom-harvesting beets for customers who’d like to purchase, because my beet harvest is limited.

Get the recipe HERE.

Greenville Rare Breed Heritage Pork Delivery- we need your help to make it happen!

Greetings!

Corva Bella Farm is a small permaculture farm located in Oconee County, SC. We are unique from other pork-producing farm models in that our farm’s main focus is rare breed conservation. We maintain the largest and most genetically diverse herd of registered Kunekune pigs in the state of South Carolina, and we also work with rare and critically threatened Meishan pigs.

Our pork is also unique. It’s deep red and marbled, with firm and flavorful fat. Pastured pork fat is one of the healthiest fats in the world, believe it or not! The pork we make available is part of our conservation breeding program, where we strive to allow only the best examples of the breed move forward in our herd, or other farm’s breeding programs. Pigs that are weaker in breed characteristics, or not well-suited for breeding, become members of our meat herd.

At this time, we work on a very small scale, and only have enough pigs growing out to be able to offer retail cuts, sausages and dry cured bacon for sale direct to consumers. We don’t have enough pigs to offer whole or half hogs, roasting pigs, or to sell to chefs. These are all things we hope to transition into being able to do in the near future, as the infrastructure of our young farm expands, and we grow slowly without stressing our natural resources.

We did several farmers markets last year, and it was very difficult for us. As farmers, we have limited resources in that we’re a Mother/Son team. I’m also a single parent who homeschools and works a second job to make farming possible, as my Son more than anything wants to work in agriculture. He is currently 16 and we hope to have our farm at a stage in two years, where Connor can begin to take on a major role in crafting an agricultural career, working with our established breeding stock, and providing our unique craft pork on a wider scale, to high end chefs who want to elevate our breed-specific pork through snout to tail, whole hog artistry, as well as offering premium pig roasts, and potentially charcuterie.

For now, we dream of the future and work hard to educate others about the breeds we work with, and the unique pork that we provide. In lieu of being unable to attend more than one farmers market per week, we are hoping to set up a weekly delivery service to Greenville, SC. We don’t have the online reach to do this on our own. We need your help!

We are trying to determine the best date, time and place for such a delivery to take place. We used to live in Greenville so have basic geographic familiarity with the city and outlying areas. Our dream is to be able to take pre-paid pork orders throughout the week, and then on a weekly basis, make the two hour round trip into Greenville, to our delivery point, and within a set time window, meet you so that you can pick up your orders.

If you are interested in placing an order and being a part of our delivery, please send me a message through the form below! Underneath that form, I’ve included more information about our pork- price lists, photos of the product raw and also cooked.

You can also learn more about our pork here. And how we care for and feed our pigs, here.

 

 

Check out photos of our pork, both raw, and prepped or cooked into various dishes. Choose our pork for your next special occasion!

Pumpkintown Pork Delivery… every Saturday!

Let’s MEAT UP this Saturday, from 2-3 PM at Pumpkintown’s Mountain Market! We are now offering pork delivery to Pumpkintown during the market, so you can pick up your rare breed pork and enjoy the market!

This week, we have our full range of premium rare breed heritage cuts, as well as six types of gourmet linked sausages, and dry cured bacon. (See photos for list of varieties and also price list)

Delivery date is pending a minimum delivery total of $100 for all combined orders from all customers, because it’s a 90 minute round trip for us to Pumpkintown.

Please send me a PM if you have any questions, or would like to put together an order. I’ll get together the cuts and items you’d like, and message you back with a price. Payment is pre-paid, via paypal invoicing (you don’t need a paypal account to pay).

Then, we meet on Saturday from 2-3 PM and I’ll have your order bagged up and ready to go in my cooler!

I hope to make it to Pumpkintown for a “meat up” every week. Let’s make this happen. Put rare breed heritage pork on your fork!

Check out photos of our pork, both raw, and prepped or cooked into various dishes. Choose our pork for your next special occasion!

Put [rare breed heritage pork] on your fork! How our pork differs from “supermarket” pork

Market season has begun, and with it we continue our work ardently educating our customers about our breed conservation efforts and how our pork is different. This is our greatest challenge, as people are so used to seeing pork as a cheap, white, readily available meat. We are going against the grain, and it’s not easy to change mindsets.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 In the South, it’s not uncommon for even small farmers to raise pigs in confinement, on concrete- or in a small pen. Some folks are always surprised that our pigs are free ranging, or that they are smaller in size, or that we don’t sell “whole hog sausage” for $3/lb. We live in a society where meat is seen as a cheap commodity, while vegetables are seen as a luxury. Most customers will readily spend $4-5 per pound for fresh broccoli, but balk at spending $12/lb for a beautiful & marbled nutrient-rich pork chop that took 12-18 months and a whole lot of hard work, love and dedication to produce.
 .
The reason for this is that we are trained to expect meat to be cheap. And factory farms pump out millions of animals per year to meet that cheap, government subsidized demand. What most consumers don’t understand is that the vast majority of large-scale agriculture, from corn & wheat to pork & beef out of confinement buildings and feed lots- is government subsidized. You do pay more for that meat, you just don’t realize where your tax dollars are going. Factory farms unfortunately are necessary to meet demand, but as consumers we always have the choice to take our buying power where we wish, and keeping dollars local and invested in small farms is the smart choice for sustainability and our local economy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 Our pork is a premium product, that you won’t find at any grocery store and you may not even be able to find a product like it at most farmer’s markets. It is unusual for a small farm to be centered solely around rare breed conservation and working with smaller pigs with long growout times and smaller meat yields- but here we are, doing just that.
 .
The topic of confinement pork- what almost all “supermarket pork” is, always comes up at the farmers market. Factory farmed pork consists of thousands of pigs being raised indoors, in an enclosed space. There is no comparison between this and what pastured farmers do!
 .
In our case, we also factor in the unique meat and fat quality of our rare breed pigs. Both the Kunekune and Meishan pigs produce intricately marbled meat- the equivalent of being the “Waygu beef of the pork world”.
.
How are our pigs different?
.
  • Unlike supermarket pork, our pigs are bred for taste rather than leanness. They are an old fashioned style pig, known as a “lard breed”.
  • Our pork is different by sight alone- the deep red color is both inherent to the breed’s genetics, as well as the slow, outdoor rearing.
  • Pigs reared outdoors, and raised slowly (12-18 months) results in excellent marbling and intramuscular fat, creating incredibly tender pork.
  • Slow growth means a tastier product.
  • Our are happy pigs, and happy pigs taste better. We’d never consider raising pigs in a tiny pen, indoors, or on concrete. Ours are reared outside, free ranging on pasture and in the forest. Piglets stay with their mothers until 6-10 weeks of age depending on breed, litter size, and sow condition.
  • Kunekune and Meishan pigs are bred by a few select breeders who prioritize the breed’s purity, conformation and traceability via pedigreed registration.
  • In buying rare breed pork, you are helping to create demand for rare breeds in need of conservation, which in turn will encourage breeders to continue working with these amazing animals to meet demand for both breeding stock and meat stock!
  • In short, every bite of our pork helps to conserve the breeds we work with. It makes it possible for us to continue our work, manage the intricacies of our breeding program, and do our best work possible.
Thank you for putting rare breed heritage pork on your fork!

How our Pork is Different!

Market season has begun, and with it we continue our work ardently educating our customers about our breed conservation efforts and how our pork is different. This is our greatest challenge, as people are so used to seeing pork as a cheap, white, readily available meat. We are going against the grain, and it’s not easy to change mindsets.

 In the South, it’s not uncommon for even small farmers to raise pigs in confinement, on concrete- or in a small pen. Some folks are always surprised that our pigs are free ranging, or that they are smaller in size, or that we don’t sell “whole hog sausage” for $3/lb. We live in a society where meat is seen as a cheap commodity, while vegetables are seen as a luxury. Most customers will readily spend $4-5 per pound for fresh broccoli, but balk at spending $12/lb for a beautiful & marbled nutrient-rich pork chop that took 12-18 months and a whole lot of hard work, love and dedication to produce.
 .
The reason for this is that we are trained to expect meat to be cheap. And factory farms pump out millions of animals per year to meet that cheap, government subsidized demand. What most consumers don’t understand is that the vast majority of large-scale agriculture, from corn & wheat to pork & beef out of confinement buildings and feed lots- is government subsidized. You do pay more for that meat, you just don’t realize where your tax dollars are going. Factory farms unfortunately are necessary to meet demand, but as consumers we always have the choice to take our buying power where we wish, and keeping dollars local and invested in small farms is the smart choice for sustainability and our local economy!
 Our pork is a premium product, that you won’t find at any grocery store and you may not even be able to find a product like it at most farmer’s markets. It is unusual for a small farm to be centered solely around rare breed conservation and working with smaller pigs with long growout times and smaller meat yields- but here we are, doing just that.
 .
The topic of confinement pork- what almost all “supermarket pork” is, always comes up at the farmers market. Factory farmed pork consists of thousands of pigs being raised indoors, in an enclosed space. There is no comparison between this and what pastured farmers do!
 .
In our case, we also factor in the unique meat and fat quality of our rare breed pigs. Both the Kunekune and Meishan pigs produce intricately marbled meat- the equivalent of being the “Waygu beef of the pork world”.
.
How are our pigs different?
.
  • Unlike supermarket pork, our pigs are bred for taste rather than leanness. They are an old fashioned style pig, known as a “lard breed”.
  • Our pork is different by sight alone- the deep red color is both inherent to the breed’s genetics, as well as the slow, outdoor rearing.
  • Pigs reared outdoors, and raised slowly (12-18 months) results in excellent marbling and intramuscular fat, creating incredibly tender pork.
  • Slow growth means a tastier product.
  • Our are happy pigs, and happy pigs taste better. We’d never consider raising pigs in a tiny pen, indoors, or on concrete. Ours are reared outside, free ranging on pasture and in the forest. Piglets stay with their mothers until 6-10 weeks of age depending on breed, litter size, and sow condition.
  • Kunekune and Meishan pigs are bred by a few select breeders who prioritize the breed’s purity, conformation and traceability via pedigreed registration.
  • In buying rare breed pork, you are helping to create demand for rare breeds in need of conservation, which in turn will encourage breeders to continue working with these amazing animals to meet demand for both breeding stock and meat stock!
  • In short, every bite of our pork helps to conserve the breeds we work with. It makes it possible for us to continue our work, manage the intricacies of our breeding program, and do our best work possible.
Thank you for putting rare breed heritage pork on your fork!