Friday, December 9, 2011
Butcher Shop 101
does that look like white meat to you?
Ever wonder how they do it? How they actually cut up a hog/beef/sheep? What exactly does it look like back there? How do I know it's my meat? How do they track that?
I recently had the opportunity to come to our butcher's on the day they cut up our hogs, and I really learned a lot. I thought I'd share.
First, after the humane slaughter, the pig is bled out and then gutted. The carcass is placed into a large drum containing very hot water to be scalded, and large paddles rotate around the carcass to remove the hair. Any extra hair is singed off when it comes out of the drum. The carcass is then hung and each carcass has the customer's cutting order card pinned to it.
You can see the cards associated with each side as they rest on a cart (right) waiting to be cut up. This card stays with the carcass all the way through. The meat cutter takes the primals off the cart, looks at the card, and makes the cuts according to instructions. Here is a shot of a ham shank on the cutting table. We had a customer ask for the shank, and we worked with our butcher to get their meat cut exactly as desired. Reminds me of the iconic pictures of hams hanging in the windows of old world butcher shops... by the way, there are two 5 lb. ham roasts sitting behind it, just for reference.
Then the meat is packaged (either vacuum sealed or paper wrapped; customers' preference), labeled, and placed
into a box with the customers' name on it. Then it is rolled back into the freezer until pick up day.
I'd like to thank all the nice folks at Lake Geneva Country Meats for giving me that opportunity! I learned a lot more than what I've posted here, mostly about where each cut of meat comes from, and many of the various ways each section can be cut to produce different products. Those folks are true professionals who are skilled at what they do and take pride in their work. We take great care and pride in the way we raise our animals, and it feels good to entrust them to Lake Geneva to turn them into beautiful end products for our family and our customers.