Home > Ethical Consumption, Food, Provenance > Oink! A long journey to a pile of Italian sausage

Oink! A long journey to a pile of Italian sausage

Hopefully our porker didn't look like this before it gave its all...

It wasn’t my idea; it was dear friend and fellow foodie Ann Coetzee’s. She’s the one who decided we should buy a half a pig from Sweetwell Pig (or is that Pork?) Farm and turn it into a few decametres of Italian sausage. Not a bad idea, mind, but one that resulted in some surprises along the way.

For instance, the runners (that’s the pork derems (small intestine) that is used to make the sausage) cost R195! And that’s for a quantity to make about 30kg of sausage, says Benny the butcher at Sweetwell.

“But can’t we just take enough for this half pig?” I ask, perplexed. (We’re looking at about 10kg of meat once I’ve boned the half pig, according to Benny), to which he replies (incomprehensibly): “No. You want to see the pile that these (pointing at the bag of salted derems) come from!” he exclaims as if by way of explanation. “What’s the weight of the bag of runners?” I ask, fully expecting it to be about a kilogram or some such expecting the price to be R195 per kilogram. Again incomprehensibly, the bag of runners weighs 2.860kg, promptly trashing my theory of a price per kilogram.

I still don’t understand how we ended up with this huge pile of small intestine, at R195, when the half pig only cost R481.51 (14.6kg at R32.98 per kg). As the little ‘droid in Star Wars (or was that Star Wors??) Episode II said: “That doesn’t compute.”

Sheesh! Our sausage casings didn't look like this ....

Mental gymnastics lead me to the conclusion that this 10kg of sausage is costing us R67 per kilogram so far, and we still need to cost in the herbs and spices, not to mention our physical labour. At what point does cost outweigh fun, I wonder privately to myself.

Nonetheless, having watched Benny and his colleague manhandle the pig through the band-saw, we take both the oink! (so-called since a whole pig is an oink, oink!) and the bag of runners. Turns out that you can store the runners in the fridge in coarse salt for up to four months, so if we’re to make this a paying proposition, we’ll have to do at least two other half pigs over the next four months. That’s one helluva pile of sausage, let’s face it!

A detour via Mooiberge Farm Stall to buy some green fig preserve for Mummsy dear, and a bag of pine nut kernels for Eppie dear (they cost R650 per kilogram at Pick ‘n Pay. Can you believe that? Mooiberge, not my favourite shopping venue for reasons I prefer to not repeat here, asks half the price: R325 per kilogram), so that she can make her famous cabbage salad for Christmas Eve.

A final call at the strawberry pack shed springs loose two by two kg boxes of strawberries, and we head home, munching all the way.

The half pig ends up in Ann’s fridge until tomorrow morning, when we will embark in earnest upon the business of making Italian sausage.

And why did this all come about, you might ask? Because Ann attended a course at La Masseria in the Northern Suburbs (you know, daar agter die boerewors gordyn) where she learned how to make such delicacies as Italian sausage, salami, copa, parma ham and pancetta. I didn’t get to go on the course, so I thought I’d learn by doing with Annie, when she did her first half pig, hence the joint venture.

Because it is mid-summer (well, actually it is the beginning of summer, yesterday – December 21 – having been the summer solstice, which is the astronomical commencement of summer, at 19:57SAST to be precise), it is way to hot to do any of the aforesaid except sausage, since it can be frozen immediately after making. The others have to hang around in the open air to cure, and that’s a risky business with pork, let me assure you, in this heat.

Tomorrow looms….

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