Apple cider vinegar is everywhere in the health realm. These are just a few places you can use it:
-drink 1/8 - 1/4 cup to help with weight loss and detox your kidneys.
-Use as a cleaner, several different applications
-Use as a conditioner, yes! it balances the acidic/oils on your scalp and leaves your hair silky.
-reduces inflammation, inside and out
-Relieves sinus pressure
-Helps animals feel better (giving to chickens/livestock)
And literally the list goes on and on and on. I am going to show you a cost effective, easy, proven way to make it. This is how I do it and then I have a bunch for all that I do. It's so versatile that you'll use it if you have it.
15+ cored, peeled apples. I get a baggie going in the freezer and every time I make apple chips, or apple crisp I start saving a bag full of the cores and peels. The bacteria needed is located on the skins/core naturally.
3 gallons of water- little less
3 gallon food grade bucket or any clean bucket of the size you want. If it's larger, just use more apples. Smaller, use less.
3 cups cane sugar or white sugar (you can chose to not add any sugar and you will still get apple cider vinegar just not very strong because you never gave anything for the bacteria to eat, therefore grow. I recommend using cane sugar). The ratio of sugar to gallon is 1:1. One gallon water One cup sugar.
Plate that fits inside the bucket to push down the peels while fermenting.
Rubberband that fits snug over the bucket
Thin dish rag that fits across the opening of the bucket, not allowing anything to get in the bucket. You can use a couple layers of cheesecloth as well, you just need to let the fermenting process get air.
Place the peels and apples into the bucket. Sprinkle sugar on top. Cover with air temp water to almost fill the bucket. Place plate on top and cover with flour sack towel or a very thin kitchen towel, rubberband the towel to the bucket. Let ferment for 3 months. When you get ready to use, you can leave the peels and such in the bucket and just scoop around it OR I like to strain the peels out and put the vinegar in covered 1/2 gallon mason jars. Apple cider vinegar lasts forever, indefinite. So no worries if you make too much, it will still be good!
After just a few days it should be bubbling and start smelling like vinegar. This one was done in a one gallon glass container.
This one is 3 gallons, 3 months later. Apple cider vinegar! It should sound a little fizzy when you stir it. I just wash my hand/arm really good and use it to mush the apples a bit before straining, I like mine cloudy and some of the sediment in it. I think it continues to ferment and get stronger after I jar it.
There you have it, your own apple cider vinegar and all it took was a little effort and time. Subscribe to my blog by email at the top right (above my picture) so you don't miss any money saving, healthy, better quality recipes :)
After raising my two hogs with specific diets, I really get to see the quality of the meat.
It's beautiful, fresh and been taken care of from start to finish. That being said, I was really hoping I wouldn't screw it up now :)
The female I did first. After they hang for about 4 days in the cool weather (30's- 40's), protected, you need to split the carcass down the middle. I did this with a sawzall. You need to get this as close to directly down the spine as possible, this can be a bit difficult but it makes butchering easier in the long run.
After splitting the carcass, it's ready for the butchering table. I watched several videos of how to butcher a half carcass and finally found a 3 part series that was incredibly helpful. I also liked that the butchering was done by a women, Camas Davis. Moving the carcass and cutting into primals (the three major sections) takes a bit of muscle and watching her accomplish this made me know I could certainly do it.
The breed I raised were Yorkshire's, known for free-ranging, good butchering size, and belly fat/striation (bacon). It all held quite true of this breed.
I did quite a few cuts as Camas does in her videos but I also wanted some other cuts as well. And with 4 halves, I had lots to practice with. I thought this French Culinary instructor was good, quick to the point but nothing really specialized. He is more from a restaurant point of view.
And finally, this Canadian Holistic butcher was pretty good and I followed some of the cuts he did. I do not have a meat band - which takes a bit longer to cut (and energy!) but you can maneuver cutting the bones at more angles.
So, after watching some videos and reading about butchering, quality of meat, and specific cuts I don't think I did too bad :)
I did it. From start to finish and didn't take any of it to the butcher. They don't even do most of these cuts! I feel like this was such a rewarding experience and I am so glad I did. The list is long for those that want to purchase healthy pork from me so next year I am doing 6 pigs and making them a special garden that I can feed them from. Super awesome since I was hauling all the garden goodies from the main large garden in the front yard.
I am going to start this by saying...this isn't for the faint of hearts. So, if you are one of those, please stop reading and skip to my gardening blogs :)
With all of the excitement I had from buying to raising to feeding and apple finishing my pigs, I was a little nervous to butcher. EVERYONE and their mother had advised me to "just bring them to the butcher." These are my reasons for not:
1. You may not get the meat you bring in back. Mix ups happen, especially at harvest time.
2. You will not get YOUR lard back.
3. Self-reliant living really isn't sending your stuff out for someone else to finish. I've put too much effort into specific feeding etc. to waste it on paying someone else.
4. I want to learn. I need to know how to do this sort of stuff. And I needed to know if I had it in me.
Essential items needed for slaughtering, gutting & scalding (hot water bath):
1. 22 caliber rifle
2. 6" boning knife
3. Bone saw, you can use a wood saw - but bone saws are meant for this.
4. Cast iron bath tub (many times old ones are free on craigslist like ours was)
5. Really strong handsome man- I guess they don't have to be handsome but it helps.
6. lifting hoist, tractor or backhoe etc.
7. Cool weather 35-50F is perfect
8. Hanging ropes/chains
9. Thermometer for water temp
10. Cool/dry area for hanging 2-4 days
11. Water hose with spray attachment
We butchered the female (gilt) first. For no apparent reason, that's just how it worked out. She was about 300 lbs. My husband and I did all of the butchering from start to finish. These are the steps for the 'kill' portion.
1. 22 caliber long rifle- not hollow point, shot between the eyes slightly off to the right. Point blank. The female went down well. She kicked a bit at first which is normal. Keep in mind the 22 only stuns them.
2. After they are down, stunned- You to bleed them out. Slit the throat- best done by sticking a 6" boning knife into front base of neck and moving the knife around until you hit the carotid arteries. You will know as the blood will gush and bleed the pig out quickly. You want this. You need to have the pig bleed itself out so the meat is clean and free of blood. This is what kills the pig. We like Green Acres Farm video of this. We didn't follow all his stuff to a tee, but he was really informative, which you can see below with the hot water bath section.
Next is getting the pig hung up from a tree or tractor/backhoe.
We found that cutting behind the back leg/ankle where the tendon runs and putting braided or really tough rope through it and hooking onto the backhoe is the best for hanging. The picture above on the right looks like the cut was much longer than it was. It was just on the skins surface. You really don't want to cut too long into the meat because this part is the ham.
Hanging the carcass securely is important so you don't drop it- which we did once, not far off the ground but enough for us to realize we needed something more secure which is why we cut in front of the tendon behind the back leg bone.
The hooks you latch onto for hanging (on the backhoe) should be about 1.5 feet apart, give or take a bit- it makes gutting much easier. Lift it head down. The following picture is driving it out of the pasture.
We are hot bathing our pigs. For a couple reasons.
1. I get more lard because skinning cuts into the fat.
2. You get a better amount and prettier slabs of bacon.
3. For those that like to utilize the skin for pork rinds/pork crackling this is the best way.
4. The carcass looks nice and neat when you are finished and I like my things clean and tidy.
**Quick note: male pigs- especially Yorkshire breed are sometimes difficult at kill. Our male pig was kind of a shock to us. It took 6 bullets to put him down. He finally went down at the 4th shot, and I insisted we do again in which on the 5th shot - woke him up :/ He jumped back up on all fours and it was game on again. I must admit, if he was my first experience, I may have called it day, named him Earl and kept him as a pet. But no, it wasn't and the 6th shot put him down. My husband stabbed him perfectly and cut the carotid arteries and he bled out quickly. From there on, everything went as planned. Just keep in mind that not everything is perfect and that is normal. Just stay calm and keep your cool.
Hot water bathing includes using a cast iron tub lifted on cinder blocks and filling it about half way with water. Next you need to start a fire under it keeping it going with scrap wood. You need the temp of the water to be 150 degrees before placing your pig in the water. This way the hair is easy to scrape off. We used wide mouth canning lids as our scrapers. They worked great. You don't want to keep the pig in the water too long or it will burn (4-6 minutes) and you need to move the pig around so it doesn't stick to the bottom.
After scouring books and you tube videos we found this one to be most useful for this part. This also includes the kill.
We had to dip each of them twice, which is fine. The pigs that this guy has are about 200 lbs and ours, female 300 and male 350, were much larger so they fit in the tub a bit more snug. We also washed off the pig before putting it into the tub. Keeps the water clean.
Now it's time to gut. Again, Green Acres pulled through with an informative video that we followed exactly.
Below, the picture on the left is me starting to gut the female and on the right is me starting to gut the male. We did the female on Friday evening and the male Saturday afternoon. Each took us about 4 hours. Which, we took a little break in between, took time to get our water up to temp etc. So next year, I imagine we will be much quicker. We also will have everything set up in stations next year. I plan to do at least 6 pigs next year so having everything in specific spots will really reduce the amount of time.
Now it's gutted and ready to hang for 2-4 days so the meat firms up making it easy for butchering. We hung the carcasses in the shop by placing a long ladder across the ceiling trusses (distribution of weight) and with pulley ropes. We are hanging 3 days (weather is nice and cold here in MN mid October).
Stay tuned for my next blog as I cut the carcasses into specific cuts of meat.
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