At one time here in the Lunigiana, butchering was a critical mission. You needed food to get you through the winter without any refrigeration other than the cooling temperatures of the season. You killed your pig quickly and humanely so that adrenaline didn’t tense the muscles, then you immediately went to work butchering it so that you could preserved a good deal of it as prosciutto, salami and other products that fall under the category of salumi.
My neighbor Armando followed the old tradition. The pig he sacrifices in December yields prize winning salame Toscana most years, and he makes great lardo and Culatello as well (the inner muscle of the ham or prosciutto).
I was able to watch and take pictures. Of course, I labored thus after an offer to “help” with the whole deal. The butcher really didn’t seem to need any help, leaving me to my own devices, which included a still camera and video camera.
It took roughly 2 and a half hours to totally break down the pig into pieces that would sit overnight, including processing the intestines into roughly cleaned sausage casings. The next day, early in the morning, the pig was further broken down, some of the meat being ground for the salame toscana, mortadella, and sausage and stuffed into the cleaned intestines. That took the whole morning. By noon we sat down to a pig feast while the preserved meats were hanging handsomely.
I’ve prepared a few pictures that show the process from beginning to end, eliminating the kill of the animal because it upsets some folks.
In case you’re wondering, a citizen can keep two pigs for his own use, and not be considered as owning a farm.
Butchering in December Pictures
These pictures show the work in a rustic building made for these operations.
The next day the meats will be ground and seasoned for to make a variety of different preserved meats like salami and Luniginese Mortadella Lunigianese.