Pork and other meats make up a significant part of the Amish diet. Conversely, eating pork is usually prohibited by Muslims, Jews, and Seventh-day Adventists due to religious restrictions.
Unlike the mentioned religions, Amish have no restrictions against eating pork or meat from hogs. In fact, the Amish faith or community can eat whatever they like, even pork, because there are no dietary restrictions or limitations.
Pork makes a huge part of the Amish diet in the form of ham, bacon, sausages, and pork chops, among other meat foods.
Additionally, main Amish meals are usually made around hearty meat dishes such as ham, roast beef, pork chops, and meatloaf.
Why do the Amish Raise Pigs?
Most Amish folks are farmers and often raise animals. Among the animals they raise, pigs are inclusive. Hogs are raised in Amish communities for many of the same reasons they were raised on traditional American homesteads.
For starters, hogs do not take up much room. Second, they have an extremely high feed-to-meat conversion ratio. A healthy hog will consume approximately eight pounds of food per day.
Feeding a plain grain ration can add up to a significant amount of money spent on feed. Luckily, hogs are economical, do not require special food, and can thrive on scraps.
Kitchen scraps, ground feed, leftover garden food, excess milk from goats or cows, orchard windfalls, and cornfield gleanings can be enough for a homestead hog. These additional feed sources help offset the cost of feed bought and are also very nutritional.
Amish keep the hogs because they are a good source of delicious meat and protein. When the hogs are slaughtered, they provide meat that is stored as canned meat, lard, bacon, and sausages.
Levavausht, which means liver sausage, and Amish head cheese, are also made.
Pig Butchering in the Amish Community
When a family needs pork, they can raise pigs and fatten one or two for slaughtering. Pigs are usually slaughtered in autumn and then processed to be eaten through winter.
The English folk has long forgotten the act of butchering and processing your own meat, but it is a common scene in the Amish community.
As mentioned, autumn is dedicated to this task because pigs would have fattened by then, and the farm has fewer pressing tasks. To get started with the butchering, a pig must be killed as humanely as possible with a riffle.
Some feed is poured for the pig to try and calm it, and then a shot is taken just above the eyes, off the center of the skull. The next step is bleeding, which is done by slitting the pig’s neck across the jugular veins and allowing blood to run out. Amish love blood sausages and they put the blood in a vessel for later use.
The next step is usually scalding or skinning, where skinning is easier, but scalding is preferred if the family needs to make Levavausht head cheese.
The fat on the skinned animal is used to make lard. The carcass which has been skinned is then opened up, and the guts are removed. The entrails are usually kept, emptied, washed, scrapped, and later stuffed with sausage, but they can be discarded on other occasions.
A raw meat saw removes the feet and splits the carcass. Once the carcass has been split, the halves are hung to cool overnight, which firms the meat and aids in cutting it up and later when processing it.
How the Amish Process Pig Meat
After a night of cooling, the halves of the carcass are cut into various large cuts using sharp knives or meat saws. All the meat is then de-boned and prepared for packing or grinding.
Ribs are, however, exempted from de-boning and are cut into slabs that are convenient for packaging and freezing. Most ribs are often cooked shortly after butchering. In most homes, the de-boned meat is packaged in quart jars or pressure canned because they do not have freezers.
The Amish ladies are usually responsible for packaging the meat in quart jars or cans. The next task is usually rendering the lard. Heavy cast iron kettles are set up to cook the meat. The fat is then cut into small cubes and placed in the empty kettles.
The fat is then heated and begins to liquefy as they are heated. Stirring the kettle continuously is necessary to prevent sticking and burning.
The cooked lard is then poured on the lard press, where all the liquid fat runs through the press into a bucket.
The remaining hard lard is squeezed out of the presser into the bucket. The remaining crackling and cooked bits are salted and snacked on as the day progresses.
How do the Amish make Sausages?
Fresh pork sausages are common within the Amish community. After slaughtering their pigs, meat and trimmings are set aside for sausage-making.
Some fat is also left for this purpose because good sausage requires some fat. The meat is ground by a non-electronic machine and later seasoned and mixed by hand.
The normal seasons are just salt and pepper, but some households prefer a little more seasoning. The seasoned sausage is then put in the stuffer, which can either use store-bought casings or processed intestines.
The casings are soaked for a while. Then they are put on the spout of the sausage press and filled with sausage. The crank can be turned to fill the long casing with meat.
Amish women are tasked with twisting the long casing with meat to create links which they later cut with sharp knives for separation. The individual sausages are then boiled in hot water to gradually bring them to cooking temperatures without bursting them.
Boiled sausages are called water sausages. When the link sausages are sufficiently cooked, they are packed in quart jars. A hot liquid is poured into the jars, and they are then pressure canned on propane stoves. The jars are later cooled and later stored on shelves for later use.
The Amish women can also choose to cook them in hot and liquid fat. Such sausages are packed into jars with liquid fat and processed. After cooling, they are encased with a white chunk of lard and stored on the shelves. To later access these sausages, the jar must be warmed, and the fat poured off for later use.
How do the Amish make Levavausht or Head Cheese?
Amish folks are keen on using all parts of a slaughtered pig, and making head cheese is one part of it. After trimming off the meat, all the bones are cooked to make head cheese.
The liver and kidneys are also added to the kettle for cooking. Strips of skin from a scalded pig are also added to the mixture. A scalded skin that has been stripped off all hair is cooked up and adds to the gelatinous quality of the final sausage.
Jowl meat, fat, and other meat or fat that remains after the processing of the carcass is added to the mixture. The mixture is boiled and cooked until you can easily remove the meat from the bones.
The meat is then dipped onto a table where it can be picked off the bones cleanly. With salt, the Amish family can also nibble or snack on pieces of liver or kidneys as they work.
The contents are then put on a meat grinder and ground to a fine consistency when they are later mixed with seasoning and stuffed into casings or containers. They can also package the contents in bags and store them in freezers.
Other Meals Eaten in the Amish Community
Large families characterize the Amish community as well as heavy and hearty meals due to their activities which involve manual labor.
Some Amish communities have healthier diets, while the majority have diets that are rich in comfort foods. Amish are typically not vegans and enjoy meat and animal products as a source of protein.
It is typical to see an Amish family eating homemade cornmeal for breakfast. Other foods eaten in the morning are cooked cereals, fruits, and eggs.
A lighter meal may constitute cheese, soup, or bologna. For dinner, the Amish make pasta, a potato dish, a meat dish, or vegetables grace their tables.
The meat is usually fried, and bread is served at every meal. Baked products with high sugars and fats are also often eaten in Amish households. Because of the Germanic influence, it is common to see traditional German foods and a lot of Traditional American foods, such as mashed potatoes and pies.
For the Amish, butchering animals like pigs is a necessary task if they want to enjoy pork and other pork products.
In fact, the Amish have a better appreciation for meat because of the process of converting a live animal into something edible.
The task of butchering is necessary as it brings people together, therefore, a sense of appreciation and community. Due to the lack of restrictions on what animals to eat, all meats are enjoyed the same way.