Mennonite Heritage and
Memories of . . . pg. 1
Let's take a Look into the Past
Hog Butchering : An all but gone Mennonite Tradition
Charivari or Shivaree
Charivari is the term for a French folk custom in which the community gave a noisy, discordant mock serenade, also pounding on pots and pans, at the home of newlyweds. Wikipedia
I Remember Butchering
by Ruben Flanders and Schwieneschlachlen by Arnold Dyck
For the entire Mennonite Life Oct. 1947 issue :
pg. 1 Click pages to expand
The following memory is from the Mennonite cookbook OFF THE MOUNTAIN LAKE RANGE published in 1958. (No longer in print) (These Low-German Mennonite immigrants came from the same (region) of So. Russia as the Goessel area Mennonites, but settled in Mountain Lake, Minnesota).
As it was formerly done by many families of this community and is still practiced by some.
After the corn was husked came the butchering. Usually two large hogs and sometimes a beef were included. It took several days to prepare for the butchering day. At least four families were asked to help so it had to be planned to suit everyone ! After that, preparations began in earnest. All the crocks and utensils had to be scrubbed clean, and knives must be sharpened, and chickens or ducks had to be dressed for the dinner. Zwieback and raisin bread and about 5 or 6 pies had to be baked, to serve for breakfast.
Everyone arrived before dawn. After breakfast the men would bundle up, take lanterns and slaughter the pigs, one after the other. The scalding water was carried from an iron kettle set up either outside or in the summer kitchen.
The women started the dinner, stuffing the duck or chicken with raisin dressing, and peeling the potatoes, a huge dishpan full. The children also had to be cared for. Each family brought two ar three, wee babies and toddlers. They were supposed to stay in the living room.
Soon the first tubful of "insides" was brought into the kitchen. The women cleaned the fat off the intestines and cleaned the casings for sausages. (The smell of the last meal the pig ate, also arrived with the intestines). Then the cut-up fat was brought in to render it for lard. This was done in an iron cauldron and stirred continually with a wooden paddle. (The big cauldron called a "Meagropa" was most times bricked into a corner of a small building called a "summer kitchen"). After the fat had melted, the spare ribs were put into it and cooked with the cracklings, to a golden brown. The spare ribs were then spread out in a pan and sprinkled with salt. The clear, rendered lard was poured into large dishpans to cool and later poured into stone jars. The cracklings were placed into milk crocks. (The lard, the more the better, was highly valued back then, for use in cooking and baking).
By lunch time, the men had scraped the feet, ears, knees and head and these were cooked in an iron kettle after the lard was done. After lunch the pork sausage was stuffed by the men. Ground meat, mostly lean trimings from the hams, and bones, seasoned with salt and pepper, made up the contents of the sausages. These were smoked the next day. The next job was stuffing the liver sausages. This was made of one part of liver to four parts of meat, trimmings from the neck. These sausages were cooked in water and had to be pierced with a darning needle to prevent them from bursting. The large casing was used for the liver sausage.
Last, but not least, came the head cheese, ground from the cooked head meat with some of the rind thrown in for good measure, and seasoned with salt and pepper. The mixture was put into a cloth sack and laid flat into a flat pan with a board on top of the sack. This board was weighted down with a crock of cracklings to press out the excess fat. Next day the head cheese, feet, ears, heart and tongue were cover with whey in another stone jar. These would be ready to serve on cold winter evenings accompanied with onion ring and vinegar.
From another source we gathered the following variations in carrying out the butchering activities; in stuffing sausages a hollowed out horn with the tip cut off was used. The casing was slipped over the horn and the ground meat was then pushed in by spoonfuls through the hollow horn. This was a vary slow process.
The Henderson, NE community was part of the original group of Low-German Mennonites from the Alexanderwohl village, that emmigrated from So. Russia.
From THE HOMEMAKERS CLUB cookbook Henerson, NE first compiled in 1951 and reprinted and revised in 1970 (No longer in print)
"REP SCHPAR"--At butchering time the ribs were dropped into the kettle of lard being rendered. The ribs were cooked in this lard until done. The test for the ribs having cooked sufficiently was: if by taking hold of a bone, the bone was loose, the meat was done.
HEAD CHEESE ("Silt Flaesch--Sill or Zul Flaesch") Two parts of rind of hog, well cooked: one part head meat. Grind both. Add pepper and salt to taste. Mix wel. Pour mixture into a cloth bag, and put into a pan. Place a weight on it to press out excess fat. Let it cool.
Make the following solution: 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar. Let it boil. Then let it cool. Place the cheese into this solution. In a few days it is ready to eat. It is most often sliced and eaten cold with potatoes or bread. Sometimes it is heated and eaten for breakfast.
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and Agricultural Museum
Created by Fern Bartel nee Schmidt