Category Archives: Pigs

Salt Pork

The piglets arrived in late June. They ate all our food scraps, lots of spent plants from the garden, grass and clover in their pasture, and some commercial pellets. During a harsh old spell when the overnight temps dropped close to 0* they enjoyed a can of cracked corn each and extra flakes of hay. Everything was late except the cold weather. I was concerned about Red and White staying warm, and that maybe there wouldn’t be enough fat for salt pork.

There was no need for concern. I made put up 36 pounds of salt pork today. It will sit at the bottom of the cellar stairs, hovering above freezing, for the next month. I’ll check it weekly to be sure it’s curing rather than spoiling.

salt pork

Uncured pork belly.

I wasn’t able to find the tons of information I expected on curing pork, specifically how to make salt pork, online. Turns out there’s not a lot to write about. It’s a simple process.

My pork belly was cut into slabs, vacuum packed and flash frozen by the butcher. I thawed the pork overnight in a cooler.

You’ll need a container for your pork. A crock is great. If you don’t have a crock you can use stainless steel, plastic or glass. Wash your container thoroughly.

Salt Pork Recipe

Cut 2.5 pounds of pork belly into slabs that are six to eight inches wide. Rinse each piece with cool water and dry well with paper towels.

For each 2.5 pounds, mix together:

10 oz Kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup white sugar

That’s it. This is very basic. Coat each piece of pork belly and stack them close together in your containers.


I put a 1/4″ layer of salt and sugar on the bottom of the container before placing the first pieces. Add more salt and sugar blend to the pieces to make up for any you lose when moving the fat. More salt than necessary isn’t better. You don’t want your salt pork to be so salty it’s hard to use.

salt pork, how to make salt pork

My container of salt pork is sitting at the entry of the cold cellar (they lead in from outdoors so it stays cold), on the cold side that hasn’t been blocked to keep the cold out. I’ll check it every few days, and I plan to let it cure for at least a month. When it’s done I’ll wash the salt off, dry the salt pork well, and vacuum pack it before placing it in the freezer. My cellar won’t stay cold

One of the first recipes I’ll use the salt pork in is Boston Baked Beans. They’re a traditional Saturday meal around here. I’ll slice the salt pork and place it on top of the beans. The pork will help the beans stay moist and the meat will be delicious. I’m also going to dice pork to fry pan fried potatoes and saute mixed greens.

There’s always a little concern about using fat. Moderation! Use a little, only what you need. Use the same caution with salt pork that you use with butter and all other fats. This fat is all natural real food. Enjoy!

Spring Pigs

It’s time for the sows to give birth to their adorable piglets! For many years now I’ve bought three or four spring piglets for butcher the following fall. It’s not that I needed that much meat… typically I raise two for my freezer and two for my brother and his family. There is nothing like freshly smoked ham or fresh side pork for a Sunday breakfast!!

All of the photos of piglets on this blog are pigs I’ve raised. If you’ve never raised pigs, it is a very enriching experience. Despite the reputation for being messy and stinky, pigs are much easier to keep than the cows or a horse.

The piglets I buy are usually started in a twelve by twelve pen once weaned and able to consume solid food, though I am notorious for spoiling my piglets with fresh milk from the cow! I build them a straw bale shelter for their piglet months, stuffing the ‘cave’ with loose straw enabling them to burrow in and stay warm on the cooler spring nights. They are always very picky about their pen… never have I had to clean up their house because they pick a corner away from their house and use that for a litter box. This makes it very easy to go out once a day and rake up the few messes into a shovel.. poof… clean pen! I also find the pigs to be very affectionate. The love a good tummy scratch and strong back scratches!

How can I raise these little cuties much like a pet and then put them in the smoker… or the freezer??? I get that question a lot. I feel that every animal on the farm serves a purpose… Cookie gives me great milk… her calves offer me meat… the chickens give me eggs and the pigs give me more meat… all are treated with love and kindness. All are given clean pens and a warm place to sleep (or cool if it’s the heat of summer). Each of them gets a great life on my farm and then when it’s time for them to serve their next purpose, I promise them an instant death and thank them for their gift. Some day I hope to be able to keep a sow and raise my own piglets, but for now I depend on others in the area to keep the sows and reserve my piglets in the winter time.

While Cookie cow will always be my favorite furry… the piglets are a close second and I really enjoy having them around all summer and into early fall. Have you ever raised piglets? If so, please leave a comment… do you enjoy having pigs? Did you enjoy their gift of fresh tender meat? I’d love to hear from you!!