By Frances Lowery Garner
Most every household owned a sausage grinder (not just for sausage) but this was the main use of it during the winter months.
It would be fastened to a table top with a tube attachment on the end of the grinder and the casings would be rolled onto it. As the ground meat came out through the grinder it would fill the casing.
The filled casings were twisted off in desired lengths and these were chilled and hung over the poles in the smokehouse until the smoke process began.
This sausage as well as other parts of the hog would be smoked over hickory wood for several days and then left hanging until ready to eat.
However, some preferred to can some of the sausage, after frying, in quart jars and they would be packed in their own grease similar to Vienna sausage.
That would assure them of having sausage year round even after those in the smokehouse were gone. They were especially good on days like “wash day” when there was little time to cook.
A favorite of ours was boiled rice, hot buttered biscuits, and open a jar of canned sausage and just warm them.
The flavor of the sausage would be determined by those in charge of the seasonings. Typically the seasoning used was salt, pepper, and red roasted home grown peppers.
The women would usually have the last word after sample patties were cooked on the open fire in an iron fryer as the men were prone to make them too hot for the “chillun” to eat.
Hams and other parts that were smoked were first salted down for about three weeks and then hung in the smokehouse to smoke.
The salt would be washed from the hams or other meat and allowed to drip for a day and night before the smoking began.
Bear grass was gathered from an old field. It was put in hot water to soften and it would be pliable like a string.
The salt would be washed from the hams or other meat and allowed to drip for a day and a night before the smoking began.
After the smoking, borax acid was applied to the meat and a big brown paper sack tied over it to keep the skipper flies out.
It would take 3-4 weeks to smoke the large pieces of meat. Green hickory wood was chosen because it was not easy to blaze. Sometimes sassafras would be mixed with this to give it more flavor.
If the fire blazed another green piece of wood would be placed on it. Of course, someone had to check the smokehouse every couple of hours during the smoking process.
Even with additional help, all the work could not be completed in one day.
The hog head was cleaned as well as the feet, but the souse (sometimes called hog head cheese) was a job for the women of the house the next day.
The feet and head had to be boiled until all the bones could be easily removed. This was all mixed and seasoned well and packed into a clean pillowcase, flour sack, or cheese cloth if available.
The grease would be squeezed out and allowed to drip good.
Results would be a large volley ball shape delicacy that could be sliced cold and eaten with any meal or in a sandwich if store bought bread was available and this was not usually the case.
Although there was no refrigeration, this would be good for several days as long as it was kept in a cool place.
The salt in the barreled meat would be brine and melted by spring and would not spoil.
If you dipped your hand into the barrel it would be very cold to the touch.
Although “Hog Killings” meant a lot of hard work, it was also a time of being neighborly and swapping work and a time of sharing.
All who helped went home with fresh meat as their pay. It had been a day of manual labor, fellowship, a good meal, and extra groceries in the house.
They would get together again when the next family decided their hogs were ready to kill.
No matter how convenient it is today to buy our prepackaged meat and a lot of it pre-cooked, nothing can compare with the flavor of a fresh fried pork chop that has been home grown and butchered as well as a country smoked ham with red eye gravy.
Those who never experienced, it will never know what they missed.
Fried skins and cracklins was a treat when the school children got off the bus on hog killing day.