Don't know much about pork cuts?

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If you don't know much about pork cuts, that's alright, we've put together some quick notes here that might be helpful to you.

Determining which cuts of pork you want is not exactly the same as it is for beef. While it is true that the cuts that are higher up on the pig (like the tenderloin) tend to be more expensive and sought-after, the lower parts of the pig can also be in high demand as well (such as spare ribs, bacon, and so on).

The thing to remember is that you can eat nearly every part of a pig, and many of our ancestors did exactly that. And, unlike a beef cow which might be 3 years old at the time of slaughter (our cows take close to 3 years to grow as large as conventional feed-lot beef cows which typically reach slaughter weight in half the time), our pigs are generally slaughtered when they are about 7 months old. As a result, there typically aren't "tough" cuts on our pigs as there would be on a cow (with a beef cow there will be certain cuts that are low on the animal that are tougher, and certain cuts which are higher on the animal which are more tender. With pigs this is less-so).

Various beef cuts
For most of us, the cuts that we're looking for are:
  • bacon (which is taken from the belly aka "side")
  • roasts (these are usually taken from either the "loin" or the "shoulder" or the "leg")
  • ham (which is taken from the "leg")
  • back bacon (from the "loin")
  • tenderloin (again, from the "loin")
  • pork chops (again, usually from the "loin")
  • ribs (the baby back ribs are from the "loin", whereas the spare ribs are down toward the "side")
Now, something about pork chops. Chops from a pig are the equivalent of steaks from a beef cow. Like steaks, there can be many different names for different types of chops. It can get confusing. So here is a quick overview: Normally the higher quality chops are taken from the "loin" section of the pig. Within the loin is a particularly tender area which is known as the tenderloin (just as it is for a beef cow). Sometimes the tenderloin is cut into pieces and sold simply as Pork Tenderloin, and is generally expensive. The chops taken from the center area of the loin are often referred to as center-cut and these chops will often contain a portion of tenderloin, whereas the chops taken from closer to the end areas of the loin will be either rib chops or sirloin chops. So a "center cut loin chop" will have a t-shaped bone in it and will include loin and tenderloin (similar to a Porterhouse / T-Bone steak) making it a sought-after chop. Some refer to this as a Porterhouse Chop. A "top loin chop" will be similar to the Porterhouse Chop except it will have no tenderloin, and it may or may not contain bone. It is similar to a New York strip steak and therefore some refer to it as a New York Chop. A "loin rib chop" comes from the rib-end of the loin, and is similar to a Ribeye steak (and may or may not contain bone) and therefore some refer to it as a Ribeye Chop. All three of these chops (Porterhouse, New York, and Ribeye) are more expensive.

There is so much more we could say here, especially considering we haven't talked much about ribs or roasts yet.

But this is not all. Years ago, many of our ancestors treasured the more exotic cuts of a pig because of their nutritional value and taste. Things such as:
  • leaf lard (the leaf lard is the highest-grade of lard, taken from the kidney area)
  • back lard (this is the lard between the skin and the meat, excellent for frying with)
  • organs (kidney, liver, heart --- these contain many valuable nutrients NOT found in muscle meat)
  • head (used for soups and head cheese, people desire it for its extremely high gelatin content)
  • tail, cheek/jowls (sought-after for the unique texture and flavor)
  • bones (meaty, marrow --- excellent for soups, treasured for the nutritious marrow)
As the butcher is trimming the meat, pieces are left over which are too small or tough to be used for things like chops, roasts or hams and the like; as such they get used for sausages and of course things like stir-fry or ground pork (a very versatile and nutritious product which can be used in a similar fashion to ground beef, or mixed alongside it where recipes call for a higher fat content).

We hope this helps! Place your order here.