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Hog Butchering
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Submitted by Mrs. Jane (Aurandt) Steele.


Three or four hogs were slaughtered each Thanksgiving at our home farm along Poplar Run creek near Puzzletown, Pennsylvania, about 10 miles from Altoona.  By Thanksgiving the weather was cold, and everybody was off work so there were plenty of hands to help. Each pig was shot between the eyes with a .22 caliber rifle, and then the hog's throat was cut to drain out the blood.  


Men Butchering hog

The next step was to place the carcass in a long metal tank with hot water in it that had been boiled in a kettle over the outdoor fireplace (in background). (You can see the tank at the bottom right of the picture where someone's foot is on it). This softened the hair so that when the pig was laid on the table, Bill, Floyd, and brother-in-law Bob Hugar could scrape off the hair and bristles. We rubbed rosin over the hair first to help get a better grip. The rosin is the same as the pitcher uses before a base ball game. Grumpy (grandpa) cleaned the meat off of the hogs' heads to make meat pudding.


Removing the walls of the intestines of hog

The walls of the intestines of the pig are removed for cleaning to use to put sausage in. All the unused material from inside the pig we dumped in the woods for skunks and other varmits to clean up. George Aurandt is in this picture.


Two men removing hog intestines

Another year, son-in-law Ken Steele helps Pap (William "Dan" Aurandt)  with the final stages.


Men cutting meat in basement

Cutting up meat in the basement.  Pap is at the left, then my nephew Georgie, brother Bill, and niece Amy. Near Bill are some hams, and at Pap's right hand a front quarter with ham and ribs.


Author's mother with sides of meat in basement

Here is Mom, Iva (Ritchey) Aurandt, with the sides of ribs hanging up above the stairs in the spring house.


Hogs' feet on basement stairs

On the stairs are the feet of the pigs. These are boiled with vinegar, salt, and pepper to make pig's foot jelly (souse).


Author's mother salting meat

In the spring house, with newspapers on the floor to keep it from getting so slippery and to make it easier to clean up, Mom put salt on the quarters (hams) for them to cure.


Meat hanging in smakehouse

The hams are now in the smokehouse.


Making cracklin's outdoors

Bill Aurandt, son Georgie, daughter Amy (in green hat), and wife, Pauline, are making  'cracklings.'  Behind Amy can be seen a piece of 4" by 4" wood for supporting a large metal kettle over the outdoor fireplace.  This kettle or pot is used to cook down pieces of (raw) pork fat cut into 1-inch cubes.  A clean axe handle is used to stir the cooking pork fat in the pot. The firm fat is a lot easier to make into nice cubes than the 'sow-belly,' which is slippery and hard to cut.

The melted lard and cooked fat are placed in an apparatus called a lard press and a heavy lid put on top.  In the picture, Bill is turning the crank that squeezes all the liquid lard out of the pork that then runs down and out the metal spout (just above the table top) and into a metal container. The container is solid metal and is covered with a cheesecloth strainer, held in place with clothespins.  Click on the link to see an illustration of a lard press in action. The cracklings (also called chitlins further south) are stored in a cool place and eaten as a snack the same way as corn chips.



Pap would season the sausage by mixing salt and pepper in with the ground-up pieces of left-over pork.  He didn't use sage or other seasonings and would taste the mix until the right amount of salt and pepper was in it.  The sausage would be packed into sausage casing made of intestines. Mom prepared the casing by using her fingers and thumb to squeeze out all the loose contents of the intestines.  Then she laid them on a smooth board and used the dull side of a kitchen table knife to scrape the internal lining of the intestines out, a sort of pink gook.  Once the intestine was clean we took the same machine as used for getting the lard out of the cracklings to the basement., and put ground up meat into the top part, then turned the crank to press the sausage meat out through the same tube that the lard came out.  The intestine was threaded up over the tube, and as the meat came out it filled the intestine which becomes the sausage in casing.  When the casing got full Mom would say 'Whoops" for them to stop cranking-I can still hear her saying that.  She would twist the casing around the end with her fingers-it did not need to be tied.  Mom would can these sausages because we did not have a freezer.  During the winter we could cut the sausages into 2" to 4" pieces and serve with buckwheat pancakes. Click on the link to see a video of stuffing sausages with a lard press.

We used the pig's livers to make panhaus (also called scrapple).  First Mom would cook the liver in the kettle outside.  Sometimes she would get a piece of liver out with a fork and let us have a piece-it was good.  Then she would mix corn meal and water to a soupy texture and stir that into the kettle with ground-up liver to make the scrapple.  She said that when the stir-marks stay on the surface then it's done. We were a family of 7 kids and all liked the liver, and one time we all ate so much that Pap had to go to a butcher shop for more pig liver for the scrapple.

We didn't have balloons in those days, so we used the pig's bladder to make a balloon.  We got a piece of wheat straw from the barn and used that to blow up the bladder, then tied it shut.  I still have a bladder; it's about 6 inches across.

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