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Posts Tagged ‘charcuterie’

HOMEGROWN Life: Praising our Pigs

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011






On the heels of Iowa and Florida pushing legislation to criminalize folks who make undercover films showcasing the horrors of industrial animal production, I figured now’s a good time to be a little anti-big-ag and boast a bit about our newest animal project at YellowTree Farm: the Mulefoot pig.

heritage breed pigs

There are seven different pig breeds listed by the American Livestock Breed Conservancy as “critical” status, with Mulefoots being on that roster. They are also on Slow Food USA’s “Arc of Taste” – a catalogue of approximately “200 delicious foods in danger of extinction.”
Their origin in America dates back to when Columbus’ ships first docked on our shores, and though the breed flourished in the early half of the 1900’s, by 1985 the only herd remaining belonged to a gentleman named R. M. Holiday of Missouri. As mega pork producers have foregone heritage breeds like Mulefoots in favor of better producing commodity pigs (a typical commercial sow will give birth to litters of around 12, while Mulefoots are less productive, birthing litters of just half that number), it is estimated that fewer than two hundred purebred Mulefoots exist in our country today – and we are proudly raising nine of them, direct descendants from Holiday himself.

We currently have one sow, one gilt, one boar, and six piglets – all thriving and naturally foraging at our Waterloo, Illinois location. The breed is critical to our deforestation efforts of eradicating invasive weeds and plants: First we run our goats through paddocks of wooded land to eat their fill of high brush; Then we invite the Mulefoots to follow in their path, turning the soil with their snouts as they dig for nuts, persimmon seeds, greens, grubs and worms; Lastly, the chickens come behind and finish cleaning up the mess.

Find more videos like this on HOMEGROWN.ORG

The breed possesses striking, thick, woolly black hair, giving the Mangalista breed (popular with chefs and other gourmets-in-the-know) a run for its money. The meat from Mulefoots is a rich, beefy color, and is valued for it’s high fat content, lending itself deliciously for cured applications like hams and various other charcuterie. While we intend on allowing two years to pass before we’ll consider them ready for slaughter, as an older pig will develop better flavor, we hope that in time our efforts will help to ensure the survival of this rare breed, and help restore a greater diversity to our diets.

Yellow Tree Farm’s web site is


Danielle Yellow Tree

“I’m half of YellowTree Farm, an urban homestead that I founded with my husband in late 2008. Together, my husband and I grow vegetables and raise animals on less than 1/10 of an acre in St. Louis, Missouri. We speak publicly about urban farming, sew, and make our own toiletries.  I don’t have children. I have animals, which is kind of the same thing as being a parent, except I eat my babies.”

HOMEGROWN Life: Bringing Home The Bacon

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

I love bacon. To be honest, I don’t think there is anyone that doesn’t love bacon. I’ve even heard that the hardest part of being vegan is not being able to eat bacon. So when I heard that one of Charcutepalooza’s February Challenge was Bacon, I had to jump on. After reading the instructions on how to cure bacon I realized it didn’t look too difficult and didn’t require any special equipment. Why not make bacon my first experience in curing meat? It didn’t take much time, either, to decide to start curing meat. I saw the challenge in the morning and that afternoon, as soon as I could, I was gathering what I needed so I could start that evening. The hard part, I figured, was getting the curing salt and juniper berries.


Surprisingly the place we purchase spices at carried both. Bonus is that it’s in the same public market as a butcher where I could pick up the 5 lbs of pork belly that I would need. What I like about that butcher is that they only source humanely raised, pastured meat. The pork they carry is also from heritage hogs. Of course it’s not cheap, but going a year without groceries, we’re able to spend the extra money on high quality food, including meat. That evening, after dinner I got all the spices measured out and pulled out the pork belly. I was ridiculously excited. I took lots of photos. I massaged the salt, herbs and spices into the meat until it began to draw out moisture. Stuck it in a pyrex dish and covered it.


Now came the waiting – the most excruciating step of making bacon. Every evening I pulled the pork out of the fridge and massaged it, almost lovingly. I definitely noticed the pork belly becoming more firm as days went by. After 7 days I rinsed all of the herbs, spices and remaining salt from the pork belly, put it on a cookie sheet and roasted it on the lowest setting my oven allowed – 260 deg F. The instructions said 200 deg F, but obviously I couldn’t do that. Ninety minutes later the internal temp had reached 150 deg F. It was done. I pulled it out, put it back in the now-clean pyrex dish and stuck it in the fridge to cool.


It took my entire being to not slice off a piece of it immediately and cook it up. I guess I could have, but I wanted to wait so I could share it with everyone. For lunch we ended up each having a slice of it – thick cut and cooked until crispy. It was delicious! I’m definitely going to try it again, but next time I want to smoke it.

Rachel’s blogs are and

Rachel Dog Island Farm

My friends in college used to call me a Renaissance woman. I was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. I still am. My focus these days, instead of arts and crafts, has been farming as much of my urban quarter acre as humanly possible. With my husband, we run Dog Island Farm in the SF Bay Area. We raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. We’re always keeping busy. If I’m not out in the yard I’m in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!