Hog Killin’s and Laying in the Larder

Where is all the food in your neighborhood?

What great timing for us to be talking about food and laying up food with Thanksgiving right around the corner.

In this chapter, Joel says: Nobody goes hungry because of the lack of food; they go hungry due to a lack of distribution.

What if your thought on this? Do you agree or disagree?

Joel talks about the local farmer’s markets and canning your own food. He says that if a person went to a market stand and asked for 3 bushels of green bean for canning the next week, that it would through everything into a tizzy. Is your market like this?

I remember one summer, going to our Staunton market and wanting to buy yellow squash for canning. I didn’t get mine in the ground in time that year and I figured it would be in plenty. Can you believe that I had to buy from 4 different vendors and still didn’t get enough? I asked them if they had more at their farms. Nope. Just what was there. I left disappointed, but put up what I could.

Eat Seasonally! Do you? What does this entail?

If you were to lose power for an indefinite period of time, how long would your food supply last? What could you do to change this?


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About Sheri Salatin

Sheri is married to Daniel Salatin. She is the marketing director at Polyface Farm and stay-at-home mom of three children. Sheri is passionate about clean food and is enjoying working the land along side her husband. When not farming, Sheri can be found reading, writing, sewing, baking and serving in her church family.
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26 Responses to Hog Killin’s and Laying in the Larder

  1. Rachel Hoff says:

    I would like to think we would have enough food for at least three months. Starting on July 1st we actually tried it – not buying any food for 3 months – and were successful. We are going to the farmers’ market once a week just to buy odd and ends that we don’t necessarily need but enjoy – mushrooms, stone fruit, etc. We do a lot of canning, but with both of us working full time and then coming home to tend to everything, time goes by much too fast and we have a hard time processing everything other than just freezing it. That said, our kitchen table is no longer usable because of all of our canned goods that won’t fit on our shelves right now. Hopefully next year we’ll actually have a pantry.

  2. Completely agree about the farmers markets. I actually feel BAD when I buy in bulk, because the stands are usually not set up for it. You can almost see them groan when you ask for more than a few of each item. And certainly, the people behind you do, since they just want a head of lettuce and a carton of tomatoes.

    Same thing goes for our local organic food store…

    Just makes me want to be all the more self sufficient, and of course, that’s where our CSA comes in handy. They actually let the members know when they have something in surplus, so we can put some away for winter, if interested. Pretty sweet perk.

  3. Marci says:

    I am actually trying a new way to put somethings up this year. On my summer squash, I let them sit in hot vinegar for about 5 mins. and then put them in a jar and filled it with olive oil, put the lid on and put it on the shelf. We have friends that have done this for year. You keep more of the good taste and more of a firm texture. They do slices for sandwiches, little chunks for salad and we added spears for stir fry. We have only used them once so far, but they were great!! I also did some peppers this way. I also do my sauerkraut in crocks and just eat out of the crock all year instead of canning. The meat is where I would be in trouble if we did not have power. I have canned chicken and lots of broth, but most of our meat is frozen.

  4. Ellen Paulson says:

    Growing up in Rogue River, Oregon, we had one very large garden with 3 smaller gardens and blackberry bushes. We canned TONS of food and it kept us feed year-round for every year we lived there. My dad built an amazing walkin in cooler that was filled to the brim with each years’ harvest. I left home to go to college and met my husband my freshman year…subsequently, I wasn’t able to return ‘home’ and have lived in So Cal ever since. Too many circumstances have kept me from doing what I always wanted to do…get back to my roots 🙁 Well, no more! I currently have 9 different kinds of veggies growing in pots and in the spring the grass is OUT and the garden is IN! I froze quite a few items from our local farmer’s market this year…next year it’s all about canning! Thanks for sharing and for inspiring!

  5. Adam Stevens says:

    I am going to ask the male question, what do you use the canned summer squash in? Soups?

  6. Alison says:

    My family loves to talk about this very subject. How long could we eat off of our own supplies if crisis of some sort struck and we had no choice? Right now, we figure we would do fine since we own a store that sells dried beans, rice, wheat, and other bulk foods. We could live off of our inventory for years!

    But in more normal terms, we have a dairy cow, we raise all of our own chicken, we grow most of our produce and can gobs of it, and we can venison when my dad is able to hunt– there isn’t really much else we need. I’ve even joked about using dried corn husks as toilet paper if we needed to. We only have two acres, so there are some things we can’t do(like growing wheat, or raising beef), but learning to be as self-sufficient as possible is so much fun!

  7. First off, Sheri, I think your next project needs to be a cook book with the Cheesy Squash Casserole recipe in it.

    I do agree with Joel’s thoughts on hunger and food distribution. There is a lot of food out there but most Americans aren’t seeking it or growing it. The only thing they know is the grocery store or a farmer’s market for a head of lettuce or a couple of tomatoes. For countries that get aid sent to them… it is often rerouted in undesirable ways.

    My daughters sold handcrafted soap at a Farmer’s Market this year and I learned from listening that if you want bulk of something to pre-order it for the next week. But bulk orders are rare at the market because canning is not something the typical suburban or urban does. We tend to go to you picks or actual farms when we are getting food to put up. We pick Strawberries (Jam or frozen), cherries (canned sweets just to eat and sours for baking), blueberries (Jam and frozen), peaches (canned for eating and pie filling)and apples (Dryed,canned applesauce, frozen apple pie filling, and fruit leather). We grow our own peppers but for the rest of the salsa we put up we go to farm stands. I have to confess that I’m a user of commerically canned tomatoes and beans… it is so easy. But no more… next season I will make a farmer’s day by canning my own. I have a ton of zucchini in my freezer. Peppers and zucchini are all we’ve managed to grow in bulk. I think with careful rationing in cooler months/winter we would have at least a month of food. In the summer, without a freezer we’d be in trouble… we’d have lots of food to share for the first couple of days so that it wouldn’t spoil but then we’d be really limited. We do buy staples in bulk so we have lots of rice, flour, sugar and yeast. We also have the ability to cook over a fire so we’d do okay for short term. I’ve thought about long term… we are getting chickens (for eggs)this spring and an angora rabbit to learn about rabbits with and sell the fiber and then we will get meat rabbits and chickens. We are renting a duplex on the suburban/country line so that is really all the animals we can do at this time. (And I think are landlords are great by letting us do that.)We are building a green house this early spring and investing in some cold frames. I have a copy of The Four Season Gardener on hold at the library and we really intend on making the garden and animals our activities from now on. We will camp in the back yard and for-go longer vacations that take us away from home. Joel really inspired me to make big changes. They were changes that I always thought of but lacked the motivation. Thank you Joel.

    We’ve been moving toward a more seasonal diet ever since I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I try not to buy fruit that isn’t in season but I will buy citrus and bananas since they don’t grow in Michigan. I am learning to move away from summer veges during the winter and try new (for us) veges. Beets, turnips and other root veges. I’m hoping a green house will keep us in greens all year long. Of course putting up summer veges will help. I’m tired of living a consumer life.
    My husband and I are purposing to aquire no more debt, dig out of what we have and save up to purchase some land so we can eventually have goats and/or a milk cow, pigs and maybe a beef cow or two. We would love to provide as many needs as possible for ourselves and maybe have extra to sell.

  8. Nita says:

    We plan for a years worth of food, with a combination of canning, freezing, root cellar and winter harvesting. I think our weak point is our freezers – I may be canning more meat if we ever had an extended power outage. Or at that point depending on what caused the extended power outage was caused by, we may just have to let that go. We have enough vegetables, and fruit canned or in storage to survive without meat.

    I have been successful getting two neighbors to purchase Joel’s latest book…there is hope yet for some change.

  9. EllaJac says:

    I loved this chapter, and his description of the ‘hog-killin’. I love the idea of the neighborhood being the ‘storehouse’ of food.

    We’d probably be fine a good long while, if bored. 🙂 We grow our own chickens (have 40+ still in the freezer), keep hens for eggs, and I have a ‘walking storehouse’ in the pasture; a few small jersey steers and a big shaggy cow. Our ‘herd’ I guess. :] I don’t can much; ideally (for better nutrition) I’d lacto-ferment everything, but I mostly freeze things (tomato sauce, apple sauce, zucchini, carrots, green beans). I buy 50 lb boxes of potatoes (of all gorgeous kinds!) in season from an organic farmer down the road – I pay $20/box for good ones, which he sells for $1+/lb at the market. I keep buckets of beans, wheat, rolled oats, though we are moving away from the grains (at least Hubby and I) a bit. I buy milk surreptitiously from cows, and from the store when necessary. I still buy most of my dairy products too. 🙁

    Haven’t found a way to grow bananas, coffee, or olives though. Still buy those… :]

  10. Annie says:

    We could eat for at least 9 months. As winter is approaching, we are stocking up with dry goods (flours, beans, etc.). During the winter is when I do my meat canning, working down my freezers to the pantry shelves. Meals in a jar are a wonder to have and during the winter I have time to do bean soup, meatballs, taco meat, chicken a la king, etc. I love canning! My husband jokes, “Don’t leave anything laying around the kitchen, Annie’ll can it!”

    If you want an excellent canning book, I highly recommend Jackie Clay’s “Growing and Canning Your Own Food”. She covers veggies, fruits, meats, dairy, etc. My other go-to book is The Practical Produce Cookbook, but that’s just veggies and some fruits.

  11. For all you folks who can meat… What does it taste like? Do you cook with it like unprocessed meat? It seems like a good idea but for some reason it just doesn’t sound appetizing. Would you all educate me on this please?

    • when we have canned venison, we first brown it and then simmer it in a sauce that has V8(or the homemade equivilant) in it. Then, after it is canned, it is fully cooked, tender little cubes of stew meat. Very appetizing and not at all what I first imagined canned meat would be like.

  12. Jenny B says:

    We’re not on a farm so we run out to the local ‘pick your own farm’ where we can pick bushels of beans for freezing, apples for sauce to can, arm loads of basil for pesto to freeze, buckets of tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onions to can salsa and work that way to store up foods for winter. We freeze peppers and make up some eggplant casseroles while they’re in-season and lay in a supply of potatoes, squash, garlic and onions before they close for the season. We don’t have enough sun on our property to grow much but we do have a cherry tree and currents that we freeze also. I’m excited about trying to expand our growing area in the yard to see how much more we can grow ourselves next year.

  13. Erin Herner says:

    Cynthia, my mom pressure cans beef. It is awesome… extremely tender, juicy and falling apart. We do cook with it. The flavor is great. I’d have to ask her how she prepares it.

  14. I read this chapter this morning before breakfast… OUTSTANDING… last time we had a family hog killin was around 1985 too. I have photos of me as a child carrying hog hearts and livers to the proper bucket. We still have the wooden tripod, the kettles and the sausage stuffer. We don’t have the scalder trough, they are all in the museum I think 🙁

    But, with our 3 hogs we are raising this year we are going to begin to revive the tradition… but we will skin them for now. I am going to invite as many people as are willing to come out….it is critical that we do this before everyone of Joel’s age passes on I think.

    Katherine (my lovely bride) and I are often looked at strangely when we tell people that we are homeschooling, raising chickens, splitting firewood, growing Apple trees instead of Japanese maple, spreading chicken manure/wood chips in our garden, not applying pesticides to our yard, relearning how to can etc. And it is so nice to read this book that supports our efforts and says we are normal.

    We will gather strength this winter to push forward next year and this book will help!

    For anyone who hasn’t killed hogs and is intimidated by the thought and process… what I would say is, “Just Do It!” There are so many Youtube videos out there of things like processing chickens and hogs and such and the thing to remember is that if it is for YOUR meat and not to sell, then you really can’t screw it up. You can always braise pork no matter what the cut looks like. When Katherine and I lived in a small apartment in Colorado I butchered an elk, 2 deer and an antelope in my kitchen using knives, a folding pack saw I bought at WalMart, a kitchenaide mixer with the grinder attachment, and my bathtub (the elk was big!).

    Thanks again and great comments by everyone. Cool stuff. We are not alone!

  15. Eric Reuter says:

    In answer to the question posed, on our full-time market farm in central Missouri, we raise, process, and preserve all our own vegetables, milk (cheese, yogurt), eggs, and meat year-round, with increasing amounts of fruit and grains; we also purchase and preserve almost all our year-round fruit from local sources. Virtually everything we don’t do ourselves or source locally we order in bulk and have on-hand at all times. So we can last a very long time without shopping, or without power (we have a generator as well).

    As a farmers market vendor for the past five years (we’re switching to CSA in 2012), I generally agree with Joel’s point that market shoppers don’t buy for-real. Many of our customers are shopping for a Saturday-night dinner but don’t buy enough to last the week, much less to preserve. We’ve brought home lots and lots of unsold preservable food from market because no one wanted it (one reason for our switch to CSA).

    That being said, it’s a chicken-and-egg question. Knowing this was the prevailing dynamic, we’ve also planned our vegetable production NOT to produce too much of any one thing, to avoid having to dump perishable surpluses at a losing price. So if someone came up to me and asked for 3 bushels of beans, yeah I’d have a heart attack, but mostly because I hadn’t planned for it and can’t make that quantity appear magically from a factory somewhere. If someone contacted me in the spring and guaranteed interest in preservation quantities, it would be easier for us to grow for that demand (also why we’re transitioning to CSA). Customers need to understand that farming has a long lead time, and think ahead if they want preservation quantities, not just show up at a farmers market assuming farmers have lots of surplus just sitting around, because from our perspective it’s quite inefficient and wasteful to grow more than we know we can sell of perishable produce (as opposed to shelf-stable frozen meat).

    We’ll be butchering our personal farm hog on Monday. Any chance of sharing your recipe/method for lard rendering in a crock pot, mentioned in the book? We’ve never done it that way and think it sounds great.

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  17. Eric Reuter says:


    So far the crock-pot rendering is working well for us, and we’re happy with the results. One note, we ended up buying a really cheap crock pot because we were in a hurry and didn’t have time to really shop around. It works, but has a tendency to burn or overcook the lard if we don’t pay attention, and we’re not getting the highest-end results that we could make sweet pastries with. We’ve found we need to set a timer to regularly turn the thing off for a while to keep the lard from overheating and darkening, which is annoying but manageable as we do lots of office work these days and one of us is almost always around to monitor the pot. I suspect that with a better unit, this would be less of a problem. But the lard is fundamentally rendering quite nicely, there’s plenty of it, and it’s still far easier than other methods. Thanks so much for the inspiration and help!

  18. Sheryl Lebman says:

    When I lived in the Czech Republic, they used to have hog killings, and I was invited to a few. I hear the European Union is trying to get rid of them– unregulated slaughter. I do remember going to one fake one– people in my town who no longer had a farm connection, so they bought half a pig and had a feast together, with all of the traditional foods. (I will admit, I will always be too urban for blood soup, but love the rest of it. I was always assigned the unskilled labor shed– chopping meat for sausage with other unranking girls.)