Saturday, May 18, 2013

Nitrate free ham and bacon

Our nitrate free ham and bacon is quite popular. I think I've mentioned before that I personally don't like the nitrate free ham as much as the conventional ham. (I like the bacon). We went into the nitrate free stuff, because I was convinced that nitrates/nitrites are bad for you. You know, cancer causing and all the rest. I also think that our grandparents grew up on corn beef, so it can't be that bad!

Also, because I like my ham and corned beef and I really want to have another go at air drying meat this winter (I made duck breast prosciutto last year) I thought that I would investigate a bit more about the nitrate debate. I'm also reading Art of Fermentation at the moment and Sandor Katz said that he was more concerned about botulism than nitrates.....so my research has confirmed my earlier thoughts, that maybe the nitrates aren't so bad any way. I've included some links
here and here and here .

These are all US sites, however I would assume that our regulations in Australia would be similar. I do think though that caution needs to be in place with eating alot of preserved meats, mainly due to the high fat and salt content in some of them - eg salamis and hot dogs. So sticking to Dawson Valley Free Range ham and bacon is the best idea. Seriuosly though, the ethics of the product do come into it - how the meat is raised and processed.

This winter I'll be trying some air dried pork jowl I think......


My duck breast prosciutto - which I didn't use nitrates in and then worried I was going to poison myself - it was good though - had enough salt to kill anything though!

If you've found different information, please leave a comment.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Healthy Pigs

One of the reasons our pork tastes so good (it just tastes like pork should) is because the pigs are healthy and their pastures are healthy.
These are some of the Growers, which are what we call the pigs in the last couple of months. We select from these to send to the butcher.
 
We also have what we call our paddock sanitiser's in to assist with some of the parasite control. The pigs tend to mess around the outside of the paddocks, so the chooks come along and give it a good clean up. No need for nasty chemicals here.
 
And then of course the chooks and turkeys just like to get an extra feed.
 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

To Vacuum or Not to Vacuum

I'm talking vacuum packing meat here, not the house.


As you may have noticed, if you are an older customer, we have started to vacuum seal our pork. There are a few reasons for this, and there are various pros and cons regarding the process. I thought I would try and explain a bit more here.

The thoughts around the reason not to vacuum seal are based on the idea that it ages the meat (this is called wet aging) and to age the meat, it's actually starting the process of break down - it's a annorobic environment and the bacteria age the meat. This is exactly the reason why a lot of people do vacuum pack meat, as it will also tenderise the product. Our pork does not need to be vacuum packed to tenderise it, it's naturally very tender. I personally think that if you need to do this to tenderise your meat, the producer needs to think about a different breed or different management. However in saying that, it's difficult with our climate and conditions in CQ to produce consistently tender beef and so vacuum sealing is used as a tool.

Our reason for packing this way, is two fold. One: we are now getting the pork delivered for us and so the boxes will hold together better if there is no risk of blood escaping from the packed meat. It also means that we can be surer that our pork will still be fresh and lovely when you get it. We don't have it packed for an extended time, only for the time it needs to travel. Our second reason, is that once we start going to markets, we have to (by law) pack it like this. It also looks a lot nicer presentation wise.

A couple of things to remember when you get your meat home:
  1. It needs to be frozen as soon as possible, although will keep for longer in the vaccum sealed bags, depending on your preference.
  2. If the meat smells a bit, which it may, because of the annorobic conditions, just put it on a plate or bowl for a half hour or so, so that the smell goes away. It's not off, it's just a concentrated smell of meat. This may be more noticeable with the mince and sausages.
Please give me any feedback regarding this packaging.