Mark Falgoust and Mike Millé, a hog-cleaning veteran who said he has cleaned or helped clean nearly a thousand hogs in his 65 years, offered some tips to help produce the best-quality meat possible.
Both men agreed that a hog should be cleaned as quickly as possible after it is killed. The fat under the skin of most hogs will insulate the carcass against heat loss, and the meat can actually begin to cook itself.
If the air temperature is below 42 degrees, Falgoust might hang a hog carcass that has been gutted and washed “really, really well” to cool it down.
At higher temperatures, he recommended immediate icing after cleaning.
“You can’t use too much ice,” he emphasized. “A hog’s body temperature is around 100 degrees.”
He recommended that cutting the meat to freeze or use should be done within four days.
If final cutting must be delayed, he suggested brining the meat.
A basic brine can be made by adding four cups of sugar, two cups of salt, 10 cloves of garlic and 10 bay leaves to 2 quarts of cold water and 2 quarts of ice. The addition of 1 tablespoon of Insta Cure No. 1 will keep a nice, rosy bloom on the meat.
Enough brine should be made to completely cover the meat.
At least three more days can be added to the life of the meat by brining it and keeping it cold.
Falgoust mentioned that, during cleaning, it is important not to pierce the urinary bladder, gall bladder or intestine to prevent release of their contents onto the meat.
In any case, he believes in using lots of water during cleaning.
Millé said to be especially careful during cleaning to cut from the inside of the skin outward rather than outside-in to avoid getting hair on the meat.