Entries in Farmstead Pork (52)

Sunday
Jan252015

Whole Hog Sausage made from Pastured Pigs

 

Pork is an amazing food and there is a reason it has become one of the most sought after meats to which chefs offer their personal touch of flavor.  Pork excels in taking subtle flavors provided by the chef and transforming them into deliciousness.  

Sausage is the iconic trademark of pork artisans because of its savory deliciousness. Typically, sausage is made from all the trimmings, in which the butcher uses the parts of the pig that could not be sold otherwise.  However, Synergistic Acres sausages are different.   Ours are special as we use the whole hog (except for the bacon --- that would be sacrilegious). By using the whole hog, we ensure that our sausage starts out with the best meat and therefore the best flavor and nutrition.  A truly premium product.  

We off three types of sausages (in additon to our breakfast sausage).  These have been developed by the master butcher and sausage stuffer, Louis at Paradise Meats.  We have an Apple Bratwurst, an Italian with cheese Bratwurst and traditional old world Kielbasa.  Each is special and uses premium ingredients that are simple with no weird stuff that you can't pronounce.

The Italian Sausage

This is MY favorite.  They are juicy and VERY flavorful.  They have just the right amount of kick to make them interesting without a burning aftertaste that would come if they were too hot.  The cheese is barely noticeable, but does add a nice hint of creaminess to the bite.  They are not overly sweet, and instead offer just the right amount of sweet to balance the other flavors.  These are fantastic to use in many dishes, making them extra special. 

Apple Bratwurst

Apple and pork have always been a natural pairing for good reason.  The sweet flavor of apple perfectly compliments the savory deliciousness of the pork.  These are especially good when grilled on an open flame and the sweetness carmelizes on the outside but are also great just sauteed in the skillet for a delicious meal.  One of the great things about these brats is that you can pull them out of the freezer and cook them right away if company shows up and you want to treat them to an easy, great meal.

Kielbasa

This is one of the pride and joy's of Paradise Meats.  They have won many awards with this old-world style Kielbasa that comes from a generations old recipe from their homeland.  It has a strong garlic flavor without a lot of complexity to get in the way of the pork.  The ingredients list is simple - a premium pork, a bit of sugar, a little garlic, a dash of spice = just right.

 

If you would like to eat any of our Sausages or other delicious pork -- just jump on over to our Order form.  After ordering, we'll set up a time you can pick up your pork either from the farm or from our weekly Lenexa drop-off.  

 

Saturday
Nov292014

What does 1/2 a Pig look like?

This week, some of our VERY SPECIAL pork will go on sale by the half.  This is from our rare Heritage Breed pigs that have been raised in continuously rotated woodlots and fed a diverse diet that includes whey, apple pomace, acorns, walnuts, and pumkins in addition to everything they forage from the forest floor and a supplement of 100% Organic grains.  

When buying them by the half, we want people to feel comfortable with exactly what they are buying, so we created this simple guide. 


Americans don't often have to think about buying meat in animal units.  We have become accustomed to going to the store and buying the one cut of meat that we want for dinner tomorrow night instead of buying entire animals.  Therefore, when you decide to look at buying our wonderful meat in bulk it can be intimidating.

Buying meat in bulk is convenient, economical and very rewarding.  It allows you to buy a large supply of meat at one time that will always be ready and waiting for you in the freezer - no more worrying about going to the store to decide on the which cut is the best for your family.  No more wandering up and down the meat aisle deciding which cut to choose.  Instead, you'll simply go to your freezer and pull out the cuts you desire and you're ready to cook.  The best part is, you know that ALL the meat you are using is grown the way you can feel good about.

When you buy pork in bulk, you typically are buying 1/2 a pig.  This means you will be getting all of the meat and other treats from the left or right side of a pig.  These will include your typical cuts like bacon, pork chops and shoulder roasts.  It will also include, if you want them, things like trotters, tails, skin, lard, etc.  

How Much Meat Do I Get?

Let's look at a couple recent 1/2 pig orders so you can see exactly what you can get.  Prior to processing, Jeff will visit with you over the phone and discuss your cut options so you get the types of products you want.

Here are two pictures that show the pork from 1/2 a Pig.  One pic shows the left side of the table and the other the right side of the table with some overlap in the middle.

 

This customer is a chef and so she will be curing her own bacon using the unsliced belly.  She also chose all ham steaks instead of any cured hams.  

Cuts Number Pounds
Pork Chops (1" Thick) 20 16.9
Ham Steaks 9 17.99
Bone-in Shoulder Roast 4 18
Sausage 4 4
Ground Pork 4 4
Lard 2 2.71
Country style ribs 1 1.82
Pork season (stew meat) 1 2.05
Bacon ends 1 1
Jowl bacon 1 1.5
Pork bones 1 1.2
smoked ham hocks 1 4.13
spare ribs 1 4.56
Pork belly (to cure and slice your own bacon) 1

11.29

 

In this example the customer received 91.15 pounds of pork.  

Another customer had a slightly different order.  

This customer order cured hams, cured bacon and ground pork instead of sausage.

Cuts Number Pounds
Porterhouse 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

 

This customer received 97 pounds of pork products.   The difference in the two customers amount of meat came primarily from the differing sizes of their two animals.  However, the types of cuts you order will also affect your final weights.

How Much Space will I need for 1/2 a Pig?


The meat from 1/2 a pig will "nearly" fit into one large cooler.  This photo shows 1/2 a pig in a 70 quart cooler.  As you can see, it did not quite fit.  In a freezer it will take up about 1/3 of typical stand-alone freezer.

How Much Does a 1/2  a Pig Cost?

When you buy 1/2 a Pig, you pay based on the hanging weight of the pig.  This refers to the weight of the pig after it has been slaughtered but not yet cut into pieces.  Your final cuts will be about 20% less than this due to trimming and bones.  Your pork will cost $6/pound of hanging weight.

Looking at the two examples above:

Customer #1 Had a hanging weight of 116.5# which yielded 91.15# of cuts.  Her cost was $741.99

Customer #2 Had a hanging weight of 127.5# which yielded 97# of cuts.  His cost was $765.00

Both customers now have a freezer full of delicious healthy meat that they can rely on being there. A ready store of the best pork you can get without the hassles associated with weekly shopping at the meat counter each week.  Buying Synergistic Acres pork in bulk is definitely the most hassle free way to ensure you always have the highest quality meat to serve your family. 

Be on the lookout for an order form in your email inbox soon with all the details to order your half!

Friday
Nov072014

Visit your Farmer - More of a DEMAND than a REQUEST

When we first started our journey towards healthy food nearly a decade ago, we never thought about a farmer being the key to our food. We simply knew which store it came from. Then we decided that buying straight from the farm would be better. We did this. However, we were still naive and didn't ask many questions. For instance, we bought our beef in bulk for several years from a farmer we believed sold grass-fed beef. It wasn't until after visiting the farm after a few years of purchasing bulk beef that we found he does feed "just a little grain at the end." We were very surprised, for years the meat we thought we had been getting was not completely as advertised.

Fast forward 10 or so years and we feel we are much more sophisticated in seeing food choices. This afterall - is our life. This is why we were VERY DISAPPOINTED recently when we visited another local farm. We had heard they were having a family field day and we had followed this farm online and several of our customers have bought from them since they are very convenient and sell at a large local market.  We were SUPER EXCITED to meet fellow like-minded farmers.

We spent a very busy Saturday busting out an entire weekends worth of chores so we could spend the Sunday traveling and visiting the farm. The farm was over 2 hours away, but, as I said, we were excited to go.

Once we got there we were surprised at what we saw. This farm says it raises pastured pork, chicken and beef. However, what we saw was very different. Instead of pigs being raised on pasture, we saw dozens and dozens of pigs being raised in small mud lots with no pasture access. The only thing pastured about these pigs is that the pens they were housed in were close enough to see the pasture. These pigs have NEVER been on pasture. They lived in small dirt pens and were fed a diet solely of corn. Now, I am not making a judgement based on how the pigs are raised. The pigs didn't seem particularly unhappy, unhealthy or mistreated. However, they were not on pasture as advertised on their website, emails and in person. In fact, their website was particularly misleading since it included many photos that were not taken on their farm at all. A quick Google image search showed several of the pictures on their farm website were actually taken from other farms' websites.

Additionally, many of the items they sell at the market were not even raised by them. They sell "pasture raised" chickens and turkeys -- however, our visit showed no signs of those animals on the farm at all. They had a few egg laying chickens running around their farm that were in full molt -- nowhere near enough to sell the hundreds of eggs they sell each week at the market. Obviously, much of the food being sold under their farms name are being raised by other farmers.

It is not my intention in this post to disparage another farmer and I have intentionally been vague enough to not incriminate any particular farmer. There is not anything inherently wrong with the way these animals were being raised. However, customers are likely not buying what they think they are buying. In fact, I KNOW, several of our customers often buy from this other farm because their prices are a little cheaper, they are a little more convenient and they have more consistent inventory. However, these customers have VISITED OUR FARM -- seen how WE raise our pigs on pasture, in constantly rotated paddocks, seen our chickens who are moved to fresh grass 2x a day, seen our hens that lay our eggs -- AND THEN GO BUY FROM THIS OTHER FARM THINKING ITS THE SAME THING -- IT'S NOT!

It is IMPERATIVE that you insist on visiting any farm with whom you are establishing a connection. DO NOT rely solely on their website, their Facebook page or their slick talk. The only way to know for sure what you are buying is what you want to buy is to visit them. If they give any excuses as to why you cannot visit their farm, be immediately wary. Far too many farms hide behind claims of biosecurity, or liability insurance, or hectic schedules. However, visiting and seeing up close and personal your food being raised is one of the primary tenets that separates slow food from industrial agriculture.

We make a systematic point on our farm to ask every customer to come visit the farm. We have an open-door policy that encourages customers to come see our animals and our farming practices. When they visit, we are glad to show them exactly what we feed our animals, the areas they are raised in and the care that they are given. Our customers support the farm generously and giving them open and free access is part of what they purchase when they support our farm.  We give DOZENS of farm tours to HUNDREDS of customers every year.

In addition, we bring people to our farm virtually nearly everyday with real life photos. Every photo we share is of OUR farm. When you are looking at the pictures of farms, look to see if they are showing you wide views or only very close cropped pictures that are likely giving you a deceiving overall view. Video can also give you a more realistic view of what their farm is like. Ask questions about what you see. If you see a farmer is offering a product that you never see pictures of -- ask them about it. If you see the pictures don't show examples throughout their lifespan, ask them about them. It might be they are not on the farm their entire lives.

Ultimately, information is power. We have been trained to believe that farmers are trustworthy. However, I unfortunately know of MANY examples where farmers misrepresent the food they are selling. There are MANY great farmers out there as well. However, I can't encourage people enough to make the investment in time and energy to go and visit their Farmer. We are talking about one of the most important things in your life -- your food!

Know your farmer, know your food.

On a related note -- We will be having two tours coming up on our Farm in conjunction with people picking up their Thanksgiving Turkey.  (did you know we had made a few more turkeys available if you haven't preordered yet -- it's not too late!)    The tours will be on Sunday, November 16th, and Sunday, November 23rd at 3:00pm,  The tours will include a narrated hayride tour where you will get to see exactly how every animal on our farm is raised. Drop us a line and let us know if you are coming, so we can make sure we have enough haybales set out on the wagons.  We'd love to have you!

 

 

Thursday
Oct232014

Ugly Pumpkin Round Up

 Halloween will be over and the pumpkin patch will be full of ugly, misshapen and unwanted pumpkins. They may not be the perfect jack-o-lantern, but they will make an incredibly delicious treat for our always hungry pigs.  

Our Heritage Pigs feast on this natural treat for many weeks. To gather them though, we need your help! 

Meet us at a local Pumpkin Patch on Sunday, November 2nd at 10:00am. We will have trailers ready to load with hundreds of pumpkins. Any age can help toss pumpkins into the trailers so bring the family, help a farmer and have fun! We will go though their fields picking up as many pumpkins as we can find. 

After loading the trailers, we invite you to come back to farm with us and help us feed them to the pigs. They will love their first pumpkin treats of the year.

Please comment, call or email and we will make sure to meet up with you there.  Thank you!

Saturday
Jul052014

Pastured Pork is now Available - Ordering Info below

 

At Synergistic Acres, we raise pigs the way pigs were meant to be raised - outside in fresh and rotated woodlots.  Our pigs are DIFFERENT!  We started from day 1 of raising pigs with a focus on giving them the greatest life while ensuring they produce EXCEPTIONALLY TASTY pork.

Pork is only a byproduct however.  The pigs are an essential part of our farm and our passion to improve the land year after year.  Their rooting, foraging, and fertilizing ensure that our woodlands thrive with renewed life every time they are rotated to the next lush paddock.

This is just one more example of the synergistic "magic" animals and land can have when allowed to flourish in their natural environments.  

There are three main points that make our pork exceptional.

#1 Diet (whey, acorns, pumpkins, vegetable scraps, natural forage, organic grains)

 

Since our pigs are rotated through wooded paddocks, a large part of their diet is made of natural forages (nuts, grass, roots, insects, toads, etc)  that they spend their days searching for. 

In addition to what forage our pigs find, they also get delicious healthy whey from a local, organic dairy.  Whey is an important part of our pigs diet, and one that adds immensely to the flavor and healthfulness of the pork.  Since whey contains many healthy amino acids and other minerals not in other foods, it means our pork also contains these same healthy minerals and amino acids.  our pigs drink over 500 gallons a week during the dairies milking season.

We also provide seasonal surpluses to our pigs.  In the fall, they get thousands of pounds of pumpkins, in the winter they eat hundreds of pounds of acorns and year-round, they eat all the great vegetable scraps we get from local organic groceries.

#2 Natural Living

These pigs live outside their entire lives acting like Pigs.  They root, they wallow, they snort, they fight, they play, they chase and they hunt for food.  Being outside fundamentally changes the animal and makes for outstanding, flavorful pork.  However, our pigs don't just live outside in permanent mucky "pig stys."  Instead, they are regularly rotated to new, fresh paddocks, where they forage and graze, but move on before they damage the land.  

An added benefit of all this natural, healthy living is we do not need to add anything artificial to our pigs.  No antibiotics, no artificial hormones and no wormers.

#3 Heritage genetics

Our pigs come from a Heritage breed that has held on to old-world genetics.  Large Black is the name of the very special breed we raise.  The meat you get from them has not been bred to be grown fast and cheaply.   Instead, it has been bred to be flavorful and nutritious.  A notable difference!  Specifically, our pigs, Large Blacks, have been bred for generations to have outstanding meat characteristics.  They have a uniquely micro-marbled meat with short fibers ensuring tenderness.  If the only pork you have eaten before is from the grocery store, you are in for a real treat! 

All of our Pork is slaughtered at Paradise Meats -- Kansas City's premier meat processing plant, specializing in heritage and pasture raised meats.  Paradise is family owned and operated by the Fantasma family.  They are true artisans in their craft. 

Additionally, our pigs live longer and grow larger than is the standard for other farms.  This ensures lots of flavor has been grown into these pigs from all of the forages they eat.  In addition, it ensures there will lots of large, delicious cuts to enjoy. We are anticipating these pigs to weigh around 300#. The reason most farms don't grow pigs out to this size is that it costs considerably more to feed them after they have reached 200# in addition to managing them on the land for an extended time. However, it is also when the flavor begins to be set -- and that's what we are after - the best tasting pork ever!

Now.....here is how to get yours!

We sell pork directly to our consumers in two different ways.  One is by the retail cut, similar to what you might find at the store. You can stop by the farm and buy one pork chop or a pound of bacon.

A more economical way to buy your pork is to buy in bulk by buying what is known as 1/2 a pig or a 'side of pork.'  This will usually end up being almost a one year supply of pork for many families.  

Buying Pork by the side from Synergistic Acres

When you buy an entire side of pork - commonly referred to as half a pig - you are buying all of the meat that comes on a pig - on one side.  When you buy pork by the side you end up with about 70 pounds of your normal pork cuts plus as much or as little of less used cuts like ham hocks and jowls.  This will typically fit tightly into a large cooler.  

We are anticipating the weight of our pigs to be 300 pounds on the hoof.  The price you pay for the pigs is not based on this weight however, it is based on hanging weight.

Hanging weight is the weight of the carcass after it has been slaughtered and cleaned.  Essentially, it is the weight of just the pig meat, skin and bones before being divided into pieces.  A 300 pound pig typically has a hanging weight of around 215 pounds.  

When you buy half a pig, your price would be based on half of that hanging weight.  In this example, that would be 108 pounds.  

Our typical pig, purchased by the half, will result in approximately the following pork:

  • 15# - Pork chops cut at 1″ – total of 23 pork chops
  • 4# - Spare Ribs
  • 10# - Sausage/ground meat in 1 lb packages
  • 15# - Fresh Ham – easily brined or sent for smoking by the butcher
  • 10# - Fresh Bacon Slab – brine & slice or sent for smoking by the butcher
  • 12# - Shoulder Roast
  • 6# - Butt Pork Roast
  • 5# - Fat – you can render this to use in the kitchen
  • oddiments (trotters, jowls, ears, etc.)

 What is the cost?

The cost of the pork is $6/# based on the hanging weight of the animal.  For our typical pig with a hanging weight of 215 pounds, a half would cost $6*(215/2) =$648. 

This includes all processing fees from the butcher except for curing fees.  If you choose to have some of the cuts cured (bacon, hams, etc), there is a fee based on poundage, in most cases about $30.  

Therefore, your final cost on a typical pig would be $6/# of hanging weight = $648 + $30 curing fee = $678.  Your actual cost will depend on the weight of the side you order.  This will provide most families with a year of pork.  

How do I order?

Cick the Natural Pasture Raised Meats tab above to order yours.  Pigs will be taken to the market on July 11th.  

We are excited to be able to offer this naturally-raised, woodlot, heritage pork to you & appreciate your support as we have worked to grow this unique product for you.

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