By Sarah, Jun 1 2015 01:44PM
Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll 'pig'in. (Sorry. SORRY.*)
I started making salami in the Spring of 2013, basically because I bloody love food and this very much includes cured meat and charcuterie. The thought of making my own WITH MY OWN PIGS was irresistible.
I stopped at the supermarket on the way home from the abattoir where I had just picked up the meat from my first two pigs to buy the other ingredients needed to make simple salami (black pepper, garlic, wine, salt, fennel seeds), such was the charcuterie shaped bee in my bonnet, or more literally, the pig in my boot. I had already taken delivery of a wide selection of sausage casings and a really rubbish mincer. Only pausing to put the rest of the meat in the freezer, I made some chorizo and salami as soon as I got home, using the recipes in the River Cottage Cook Book by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, patron saint of all would-be hand wringing hobby farmers. I hung it up to dry out in what we then called the Secret Shed (because you could hardly see it due to all the other crap all over the place when we moved here). I left it for about a month. Bingo. By the twin alchemic wonders of salt and fresh air, I had made purest salami and chorizo. I started to air dry small pieces of ham too, flavoured with black pepper or fennel seeds. I fed some of it to friends. I swapped some of it for some posh marshmallows. My brother distributed it to his American in laws. The reports were overwhelmingly favourable. The words 'delicious' ,'authentic' and 'loads better than anything you can get from a supermarket' were used more than once and not just by me repeating them in the mirror.
I began to think about selling charcuterie online and after much scrubbing and fretting and testing and doing of a basic hygiene exam I got permission from the council to make and sell air dried meat sundries from home. I bought a fancy mincer which cost an arm and a leg (unfortunate phrasing, maybe, but you get the picture). I moved hanging operations out of the dingy potting shed full of leaf mould, appropriated a small outbuilding, whitewashed it with leftover Farrow and Ball 'Clunch' and started using it as a hanging room. Then rather accommodatingly my friend Nikola who ran the charcuterie stall at the local farmer's market in Crediton (every first and third Saturday of the month, people) kindly upped and moved to Uganda in the Summer of 2014, and I grabbed her spot as quick as you like / with possibly unseemly haste. I have been in business ever since, and now I am delighted to be able to offer my wares online as well.
I make the salami in small batches of between 5 and 10 kilos in our kitchen. Basically, this is as much as I can do between school runs (you can clock me a mile off in the playground on making days due to the rich aroma of boozy spicy meat). It is flavoured variously with red or white wine, prosecco, local cider, herbs and spices ground by hand in a pestle and mortar where necessary, fresh garlic and sometimes pan roasted nuts too.
Due to landscaping issues we didn't have our own pigs for a while, (ie the driveway is now where we used to keep them) so recently I've been using rare breed, free range meat from friendly local suppliers (South Yeo Farm East, Chagfarm and Duckaller Farm). But as from this Summer, I will once more be making the sausages with our own stock, staring with three lovely Berkshire gilts who are currently coming along very nicely. They now live in a paddock of about 1/4 acre, which features trees under which to shade and scrump acorns, a natural spring which has created a wallow and a lovely hand built shed to try and destroy. All mod pig cons. And let's face it, they deserve it.