Making A Scalding

using Ropes: Lay the pig on the platform by the scalding vat. You now need two 30-foot (more or less) ropes. Half-inch rope is fine. You can make do with 1, but 2 are much better. Smaller rope is harder to get hold of and to work with.

Rope the pig up before you put it into the vat. With 1 rope this is a 2-man job. (With 2 ropes you use 4 people to roll the pig.)

1. Make each rope have a U shape.

2. Lay the pig on ropes across the U shape.

3. Bring the 2 free ends of the U over the pig and through the inside of the U.

4. Now take those free U ends back to where they were.

This would be a double half hitch if you pulled the ropes tight. Have 2 people take hold of the bottom of the U's, and 2 other people take the loose ends. You now have 4 people, each with a grip on the ropes, which cross the pig behind its front legs and in front of its hind legs. Two are on the platform on 1 side of the vat, and 2 are on the platform on the other side—with the pig inside the rope. This way you can let it into the vat, and roll it around in there.

Put the pig into the vat slowly so as not to splash. Roll the pig gently back and forth. Now turn it over. Continue the rolling in the water. Keep the rope just snug enough to see if the pig's hair is "slipping" yet. "Slipping" means that you can pull it out. When both sides are scalded and the hair is slipping, then it's ready to scrape. Now haul the pig out. If this is a 2-man job, hand over both rope ends to 1 side so that both can haul the pig out from that side. Knowing When It's Ready. If the hair is worn off where the ropes are around the pig, it's getting pretty close to being ready to come out. It will take 3-6 minutes of scalding to loosen the hair and scurf. The most difficult time of year to get the hair loosened is in the fall when the winter hair is beginning to grow. (That time of year you might benefit from higher water temperatures or longer submersion times.) If you can grab a handful of hair and the scarfskin comes off with it, it's ready. Or better yet, take a hog scraper, or a knife, and just scrape on part of it that's sticking out from the water while it's still in the vat. If the hair comes off, well, it's ready. If the dewclaws will snap off, the feet are scalded enough. If you start to scrape and find out you actually didn't scald the pig long enough you can put it back in to finish the process. If your water is too hot you can make it work by keeping the carcass in constant motion and pulling it from the barrel several times to prevent over-scalding. But if you leave the pig in the vat too long at too high a temperature the hair will set—which makes for quite a problem. The only answer, once the mischief is done, is to scrape as hard as you can and mutter a lot.

Scraping a Pig

Scraping Tools. You'll need a hog scraper or several knives. The scraper is a 3 V2-inch-wide galvanized steel bell-shaped scraper with a 33A-inch hardwood handle. If you have the sharpest scraping knife, you'll be the fastest scraper, but you'll also make

Hog scraper

the most cuts. It doesn't take long for a knife to get dull scraping on that hair though. Scrapers aren't as likely to make cuts. You can mail-order a hog scraper from Lehman's Hardware (also sausage grinders and butcher saws) 888438-5346; www.Lehmans.com.

Extra Hot Water. Scrape your pig right by the barrel or the vat so that you can get hot water for pouring over it. Plan to have hot water to spare, because it helps, especially when scraping older hogs (which get really tough to scrape, especially red-haired ones). The last resort, if scraping doesn't work, is to pour more hot water over them out of a bucket, then pull hair out as if you were pulling chicken feathers.

Scraping Method. As you scrape you get not only hair, but also dirt and the scarfskin. Scoop more water up in your bucket and pour over to keep the pores hot and soft so the hair will keep coming loose. Try not to cut through the hide. Work over the whole body this way. The best scraping motion with a knife is to hold the knife on both ends. Don't pull the way you would slice; that cuts the skins. Pull across (sideways). Scrape the hot carcass as quickly as possible, because the hair tends to "set" as it cools. If you come to a patch of hair that is difficult to scrape because it didn't scald enough (like the mid-section of the pig), cover it with a burlap bag and pour hot water over it until loosens up. It will also help with the scraping if you place the legs or head so as to stretch the skin and smooth out the wrinkles. Scraping the Feet. The feet are hardest to scrape. If you are planning to save the pig's feet for pickling or some such, do them first, while they're hot. You can pull the toe nails and dew-claws from the front feet by inserting a hook into the top of the nail and pulling. Do the same with the rear legs. Grip the legs with both hands and twist to pull off the hair. Leave the feet on for the time being. You can use the scraper on the rest of the carcass.

Scraping the Head. Do the head around the eyes, nose, and jaw next after the feet. On an old hog there will be bristles on the snout (whiskers). You can shave them off with a sharp knife, barber-style, or singe off as you would a chicken. More than 25 percent of your scraping time will be spent working on the head because it's hard to get around the parts of it. Save the ears. They are good to flavor a mess of beans or with kraut. There are a couple of pounds of meat in the jowl (cheeks) that will make good scrapple, headcheese, salt pork, or side meat. Most people leave on the ears.

Scraping the Body. After you're done with feet and head, do the rest. When you get one side of the pig done, roll it over and do the other side.

One-Man Scalding System: This method is from a USDA booklet, "Pork: Slaughtering, Cutting, Preserving, and Cooking on the Farm" (Farmers' Bulletin Number 2265).

Read about scraping, above, before proceeding.

You'll need about 50 gal. of near-boiling water. Once you get the water into your scalding barrel, you can adjust to the more exact temperature (between 140 and 145°, recommended) by adding cold water. If you have 2 barrels, you can use 1, with a fire under it, for heating your water. You can have another one buried in the ground down almost to its lip at about a 45° angle. Having the barrel buried makes it humanly possible without any other machinery or equipment to maneuver the pig in there and out again by hand. You'll have to get it in and out at least twice, once for the head end, while holding it by the rear legs, and once again for the rear end, while holding it by the front legs. Then scrape.

Continue reading here: Skinning a

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