Bacon, Sausage, and Learning


I spent a large portion of my weekend working with pork—processing it. We did a pig butcher here on Friday morning. We’re getting better at it. We had it cut up, divided and cleaned in about 6hrs, and that was involving a lot of setup in the morning. 


I’ve never made my own sausage or bacon, and both have intrigued me for a long time. I know there are ways to make both that don’t involve MSG or commercial nitrates and I finally found a recipe that eliminated both.


For the bacon I trimmed the pork belly of excess fat and cut it square, rubbed it down heavily with a 1:1 ratio of salt and sugar. I used sea salt from Brittany, France for the texture and because well, I don’t use it all the time because of the coarseness of the salt. I used natural organic cane sugar. For spices I initially used some ground black pepper but added nutmeg, allspice, and cloves to it. 

It’s pretty simple. Coat the bacon in the salt and sugar spice mixture, refrigerate uncovered for 3-7 days depending on size and thickness, smoke the meat, and you’re done. I went all in and I’m working with 35lbs of bacon!


For the sausage I did some research and found there’s more to it than mixing some spices in ground pork and calling it sausage. It’s more like pastry making than I originally understood of it. Everything has to be ice cold, the meat, the fat, and the grinder. You don’t want the fat to melt into the meat just like in pastry, the trick is to keep everything cold so it doesn’t melt before the hot oven temperature hits it! After grinding everything very cold, your spices are added with salt and some liquid, the liquid makes everything moist and fills out the casings better. After everything is added you have to kneed the mixture until it is sticky but not so much that it’s melting. My first attempt at sausage making involved 45lbs of meat and some frustration! Most of the things not going well had to do with sausage casings and figuring out how full or not full to fill them. 


Whenever I’m up against something new I remember what it is to learn something. Remember learning to write, or the first word you spelled or learned to read? It was SO hard at first! It was work, really hard work to figure it out. But as you did it over and over it got easier and easier and you could do harder and harder words and soon it was not work at all but pleasure. Too often we come to a point where we stop learning, we think we’ve figured it out, we’ve achieved a certain level of learning or knowledge and we don’t need anymore. That’s a very dangerous place to be or think you are in because not only does that lead to blind spots and pitfalls, it’s also clearly not true. The smartest man in the world asks the most questions. It’s about not being afraid to look like a fool. When we truly are ourselves, when we express ourselves the way we are that is when we are truly alive. We no longer hide, we are vulnerable, we are choosing to be open. It’s fear that keeps most people from truly living. Afraid of the people that will hate them. But you know, if you never have people who hate you you might not have people that really love you. You have to be willing to show yourself, and some will love you for it and others will despise you for it.


I don’t think we change those around us. We live out of place of listening, walking along side others, and let change take place outside of our control. When we realize it’s not us who’s going change them it takes a huge burden off us and also gives us the right perspective. So choose what is right, what is worthy, what is lovely today. Choose to go out and make something, overcome a hurdle in your life, and give something away!