Entries in Farmstead Pork (52)

Saturday
Aug082015

How do I Hook up with Pastured Meat?

'How do I get your food?' is one of the questions we hear a lot.
One of our primary missions is to make getting our food as EASY as possible for people.  Like you, we tend to keep busy and it can be hard to add in extra things...like a country drive to pick up some locally raised and organically fed meat!  

That's why we make a weekly delivery to Kansas City in Lenexa every Wednesday afternoon and Evening.   Just email or order online and we'll bring the food up to you on Wednesday.
 
We also welcome pick up on farm by appointment and would love to show you around while you are here or you can just make a quick stop to pick up your goodies and be on your way.  
Raising our animals in regularly rotated, pastured environments is the hard part - NOT getting it and CERTAINLY NOT eating it :)

 

Monday
Jul202015

the HEAT is ON!

 

This has been a summer for the record books.  We have had more rain on the farm than we have ever had in our short but intense farming careers. Although we have had a great amount of rain -- which has thankfully kept our fields green --  it has not been without the heat, just included even higher than normal humidity.  Did you know humidity affects our animals in much the same way it affects you?  It makes it more difficult for their bodies natural cooling to effectively keep them comfortable and healthy.  

As the farmers entrusted with their care, we do everything possible to reduce that stress.  The most important thing is always ensuring they have fresh available water to keep hydrated. (Have you heard about our exciting and extensive pipeline system designed to provide fresh on-demand water to every animal on the farm all the time?)  The next most important thing is to ensure our animals have protection from the heat. We do this with careful planning of their rotations.  Knowing July and August are going to be the hardest months in regards to heat, we always plan places for the pigs, the cattle and the chickens to be where they will have access to shade and if it's not there naturally, we add it.  An example is right now the cattle are at my Dad's nearby pastures grazing on his amazing sweet clover fields. However, there is not much shade available. So we use a 20-foot stock trailer as a mobile shade structure.  It gets moved with them daily to their new paddock giving them fresh clean shady places to lounge.  The pigs are given wallows, or their favorite -- access to the pond.  The chickens and turkeys spend the hottest part of the day in the shade of the trees scratching and foraging there, then coming out to the pastures to hunt the grasshoppers once the heat begins to wane. 

Even the farmers have to take special precautions.  We choose to live without air conditioning in our house which keeps us very in-tune with the cycle of heat that our animals experience.   We find ways of adjusting to Nature's rhythms as we plan our work schedules to be inside when it's coolest and outside when the house becomes too hot to enjoy. 

We know the same things the animals do.  The summer heat is essential for a thriving healthy ecosystem and as long as we do not get in the way of how nature has developed to keep our animals healthy and thriving during this time, they will do great and be ready for the next season which is inevitable and coming too quickly.

Monday
Jul132015

Featured Product- Ham Steak

Ham has always been a customer favorite.  The Maple Sugar Cured ham is prepared by Louis at Paradise Meats with just the right amount of sweetness to emphasize the incredible savoriness our Heritage pigs have naturally.  The hams are fully coked during the slow smoking process and are ready to serve.  Our family loves to lightly warm them and have a super simple and quick nutritious meal in minutes.  


However, many customers wanted our delicious hams in smaller sizes.   We started offering smaller 5 - 6# hams in addition to our larger 15# hams.  AND NOW...we have ham steaks cut 1/4" thick. 
 These are perfect for pulling out of the freezer and serving right away.  They thaw quickly and can be served without lots of pre-planning.  They also work super well for lunches as they can be easily cut up into sandwich sized pieces to make the world's best sandwiches for your family.  

The other great news, this is all the same great price per pound as our hams.  Our ham steaks have already met with rave reviews for their ease and unique pasture-raised nuances in flavor.

Friday
Jul032015

How to save 25% on all your Pasture Raised Pork

Our Pasture raised pork is a favorite among customers.  They love its rich flavor, its dark red meat, its savory fat, and its unique slight sweetness that comes built into every bite.  They even love how nutritious the pork is that has been raised on pasture with natural forages making up the majority of the pigs diet.  

There is no doubt the pork raised in this way costs more to raise than your typical industrial pork products to which we have become accustomed.  It costs more to purchase because it costs more to raise. Industrial pork and pasture raised pork like you get at Synergistic Acres have very little in common.

 

Our Large Black Hogs intentionally grow very slowly thanks to breeding and diet.  When compared to industrial pork, our pigs live an entire year longer - taking almost 18 months to reach 300# compared to 6 months average for industrial pork.  This extra time growing means that the meat has MUCH more flavor.  Additionally, by focusing their their diet only on natural forages and not processed and chemically-laced foods, we ensure the meat is healthier for your body. These natural forages cost us more to raise due to the time and labor needed to supply them.  

This price increase is most notable when comparing individual cuts of pork from pasture raised pigs to pork from industrial pigs.  However, there is a way to make the cost difference much more negligible.  Buying in bulk.  When you buy a side of pork, you are buying it for $6/# based on the hanging weight of the animal.  Hanging weight is the weight of the animal after initial slaughter but before being cut.  At $6/#, the price is quite a deal for all your pork chops, all your bacon, all your roasts and all your sausage.  This is in addition to knowing that on any given night, you have a freezer full of meat.  No need to go shopping, no need to remember to meal plan, just go to your freezer and see what deliciousness you want to have next.

Many of our customers start out buying pork by the cut.  However, if they are eating pork more than once a week, they often they find it economical to look at buying a side of pork.  Also, buying half a pig is not the same level of commitment as other large meat purchases such as a half of grass fed beef.  A half pig will fit on two shelves of a typical upright freezer.  Here are the cuts a recent customer got from their ½ a pig.

 

Cuts

Number

Pounds

Center-cut pork chops

24

14.51

Jowl bacon

2

2.04

Bacon ends

2

1.5

Bacon

7

7.2

Ground Pork

6

6

Shoulder Roasts

5

19.97

Ossobucco

2

4.3

Pork season (stew meat)

1

2.13

Country style ribs

1

2.15

Spare ribs

1

5.14

Lard

2

4.19

Ears

1

0.5

Tail

1

0.25

Trotters

2

3.55

Cured hams

2

23.42

That is 97 pounds of pastured pork, all frozen, labeled, cut and wrapped and ready for your next dinner,  This half cost $765.  If we compared this to buying each of the cuts individually though our farm, that is over a 25% savings.

 

If you would like an even more in-depth look at what ½ a pig looks like and costs associated with it, then read this blog article on our site which explains it in much more detail.  

 

We will have a terrific set of pigs going to the processor this month and have a couple halves available.  This will be the final set before fall/winter.  To reserve your half, go to our Natural Meats page. After the form is submitted, Jeff will get in touch with you to go over the next steps and walk you through the process of filling your freezer with the world’s best pork (that’s our opinion and lots of other loyal customers -- you’ll have to decide for yourself).


 

Tuesday
Feb032015

Lard - a superfood

How to make your own lard

Lard has been demonized in modern day kitchen circles because it has become synonymous with fat which was equated with the opposite of healthy.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  

Lard, when made from the fat of a pasture raised pig, is very nutritious.  It has all kinds of good fats in it and very little bad fats.  As a matter of fact, it's natural balance of essential fatty acids make it one of the healthiest fats with which you can cook.  It is 48% monounsaturated fat (the good stuff that makes olive oil a healthy oil), the high oleic acid content is a heart healthy essential fatty acid that reduces cholesterol, and it has a good balance of Omega-3's - especially when it comes from a pasture raised pig like our Large Blacks.

So why did lard get a bad name in America?  Well, that mostly was a result of marketing from industrial food companies like Crisco, touting their "healthy" alternatives.  It took us a few decades to figure out those the claims of manufactured and highly processed vegetable fats are nowhere near as healthy for the body or as tasty for the mouth as the old-fashioned lard.  After all, waist-lines have not exactly shrunk in the last 40 years.  Instead, we know most of these vegetable oils were developed to use waste products the parts of plants that could not be used otherwise.  Generally, this is a great idea.  However, when the resulting product takes vast amounts of new technology to make them palatable - such as hydrogenation - then the results aren't always better and many cases very harmful to our health.

Another reason lard lost favor in America's kitchen is because once pigs became intensively raised in industrial settings and their feed became more and more complex, the quality of the fat became less desirable.  Fat is one of the biggest ways the body removes toxins from the body.  The fat of an animal tends to have all of the positives and negatives of its diet condensed and intensified within.  Modern day store-bought lard has been highy processed, hydrogenated and preserved.  It has the unwanted trans-fatty acids and very little of the condensed goodness that lard from a pasture raised pig has.  It's no wonder cooks were looking for something different.  

Now there is an alternative though -- lard from Pasture Raised Pigs, like we have at Synergisitic Acres, brings back the wholesome, nutritious food we used to know as lard.  This was the lard your Grandma loved.  This is the lard that had far more health benefits than modern-day shortenings.  This the is lard you can feel good about eating.

Lard comes from the fat of a pig.  There are two types of fat that can be used to make lard.  One is back fat, the more abundant of the fats on a pig.  It is the fat that lies just beneath the skin insulating the flesh from the outside.  The second type is leaf fat.  This is the fat that surrounds the internal organs of the pig.  Leaf lard is the most pure of the fat and should be used when you want the absolute purest lard to use in delicate cooking like with pastries.

Before you can use the fat as lard, it must be rendered.  Rendered is a fancy term for a rather simple process of heating and straining the liquid fat before cooling it and storing it.  As a demonstration, I rendered some of our very special lard in our kitchen and documented the process.  I started with two pounds of frozen back fat.


We put this back fat into the crockpot on low with about 1/4 cup of water and put the lid on.  After about 45 minutes, the fat was soft enough that I could take it out and cut into chunks and put it back into the crockpot to begin rendering. This is the point where I made my first mistake of the process that I would not realize until later.  

After cooking the lard for about 2 hours, very little had rendered down, what was I doing wrong?  I started by turning up the heat on our crockpot to high and continued to let it cook.  More fat rendered down, but still not at a rate recipes seemed to indicate -- so I tried the next thing I could think of --  I cut the chunks into even smaller pieces and this worked like magic.

 

 Very shortly, the potion began to boil and bubble and rendering was now in full force.   After about one more hour of this, I skimmed off the first quart of lard.  When first removed, it looks rich and golden like fresh broth.

 

After cooling outside for just about 1 hour (granted it was 15 with a 20mph wind) it turns a beautiful pure, snow white color.  It is now ready to go into the fridge where it will keep for months.

 The 1.91 pounds of backfat when rendered created 1.5 pints of beautiful, nutritious lard.  

We sell backfat and leaf lard from our pasture raised pigs.  If you would like to buy this or many other pork products such as bacon, sausage, hams, bratwursts, and pork chops, take a look at our pork ordering page. We can bring it to you on our next delivery to Lenexa on Wednesday evenings or you can pick up on farm by appointment.  We are excited to hear how you use lard in your home!

Synergistic Acres - 21733 Iliff Rd, Parker, KS 66072 - 913-735-4769
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