This is just one side of side meat, now bacon. We have another side to cure later. But the winter has been so warm that we haven't cured hams yet. It's just been to warm in the garage to not worry about the meat spoiling before it was completely cured.
We cured the bacon in a small apartment fridge that Kev uses for beer. It works well for small projects like bacon, but is not big enough to hold hams. I think we need a full sized fridge to use just for curing meat, or better yet, a walk in cooler. No idea where we'd put it, but I salivate over the thought of all that cool storage space!
When we packaged the bacon all up, we had 12 lbs. of bacon at a price far less than what you pay in the stores these days, and much better tasting. (We paid $150 for a 300 lb pig. I don't have any idea how many pounds of meat we ended up with, but if we got 150 lbs of meat, we would have paid...well, you do the math...)
A few weeks ago, my Uncle Dale and Aunt Jo invited Kev and I along with my folks to dinner. I, of course, quizzed Uncle Dale about things that Grandma and Grandad Woodruff did during the 20's and 30's, as they were raising their family. Uncle Dale is now my Dad's oldest surviving sibling, so I didn't want to waste any time getting stories. Besides, by the time Dad was born, my Grandparents were better off financially and were well established, so Uncle Dale's childhood memories are very different than Dad's.
We were talking about butchering, and Uncle Dale mentioned that Grandad would butcher 4 hogs every winter just for their family. In the end, there were 7 children, but Dad wasn't born until 1943, so 4 hogs fed a family of 5-10 people. (Just thinking, they never just fed their family. They had school teachers board with them, they had Eileen, Grandma's niece living with them, and Grandad Cook lived with them for a while, and my Grandad Woodruff's dad for a time too.) The number of pigs butchered didn't throw me for a loop as much as the pounds of potatoes they consumed. Besides what Grandma grew in the garden, (my Dad swears her potato patch was an at least an acre) they always bought 700 lbs of potatoes.
700 lbs of potatoes! Holy cow! That, on top of what they grew! Obviously, they ate a lot of potatoes.
And here, I was thrilled with the 25 lbs we grew last year!
Uncle Dale shared that Grandad dry cured his bacon and hams in the basement. He had a box and wooden shelf that he used. He'd go down and rub the meat every day with cure and after "a while" they'd wrap it up and hang it up and there it would stay until needed.
Our conversation about butchering was just one of many we had that Sunday. I learned so much listening to Uncle Dale and Dad remember. It was a bittersweet day, because I love hearing the stories, but it did make me miss Grandma and Grandad that much more. I'll share more stories because they are just too special to not share.
Anyway, bacon is finished--for now, and we're enjoying every bite!