Recently we discussed the pig parts that are high and low on the hog, as well as those that fall in the middle. That is not all there is to the useful parts of the pig and we have plenty left to discuss. Without further ado, here are the oddments, offal, and other pig parts!
Oddments are below what is considered to be low on the pig, although their location can make that a bit tricky. For example, fat and organs are generally looked at as 'low' on the hog regardless of where they actually fall in the body. Most organs fall in the oddment category and are used as such:
- Back fat is used in cracklins, chicharrones, in cooking lard, and soap making.
- Bones are used in soup and as stock for stews.
- Caul fat, which is fat located around the intestines is not typically available but can be used to keep roast moist.
- Ears are fried into crisps or made into dog treats.
- Heads are good for soup or stew and let's not forget head cheese/brawn!
- Heart is lean and healthy for the heart of those that consume it and can be prepared in many ways much like a regular piece of meat would be.
- Leaf fat is harder than most fat and is used in pastries and pies.
- Livers are often wrapped in bacon and served.
- Skin is make into pork rinds, jelly, or chicharrones.
- Tongues are pickled or smoked and considered a delicacy amongst many.
- Trotters (pig's feet) are smoked, stewed, pickled, or roasted. They make good soup extenders as well due to the cartilage they contain. Commercially the cartilage is even used in joint supplements.
Next comes the offal (variety or organ meats), which is not very popular amongst consumers and thus not widely available from an USDA approved facility. This is because the demand is too low to justify the effort and expense necessary to inspect these parts to ensure they are fit for consumption. If you wish to have such parts, slaughtering your own or acquiring them through custom slaughter is the way to go. Offal includes:
- Blood is used in plant fertilizer as well as in various sausages.
- Casings have in the past been used to house sausage although in modern times, artificial casings are being used.
- Chitlins are intestines that are thoroughly cleaned and cooked as a meal.
- Lungs are sometimes fried in foreign countries but are not generally available in the U.S.A.
- Stomachs have been in the past used much like a casing might be, except instead of housing sausage, they acted as balloons. Bladders were used in much the same way.
- Testicles to some are a delicacy and are prepared and enjoyed in various ways.
Pictured above: chitlins or chitterlings
If you thought this was all, think again. There is still a little bit more pig left to go, even if it is not pig for eating but pig to use for other purposes. Enter the 'other' category:
- Manure of a pig is excellent in a compost pile or as garden/pasture fertilizer.
- Tusks are used for jewelry and to symbolize luck and fortune in some cultures.
That pretty much sums up the useful parts of the pig. It truly is impressive how far one pig can go. Whether you are feeding your own family or planning to market a few pigs, there is plenty of pig to go around and find purpose. While many things can be said about pigs, one absolute truth is that the word 'waste' is definitely not synonymous with the pig.