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not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
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site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.
Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
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T- CM C
Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida, Gainesville
John T. Woeste, Dean for Extension
Cutting the Pork Carcass
Robert L. Reddish *
The highest grade pork is produced from young,
well-fed hogs that weigh from 180 to 250 pounds.
The fat should be firm and from one to one and
one half inches thick over the center of the back.
The hams should be full and plump, the sides
straight and smooth.
Pork carcasses of highest quality and those most
suitable for the home meat supply are produced
from hogs that are from five to eight months of
age at time of slaughter. Hogs that are fed liberally
on feeds that permit rapid growth and fattening
from weaning time to these ages will produce
pork of proper size and finish.
To prevent spoilage and to insure more efficient
processing, hang the pork carcass in refrigerator
storage for 12 to 24 hours. This period of time is
adequate to properly chill the carcass (380F. to
the bone) if the cooler temperature is held between
1. Place the side of pork on the table with the
inside of the carcass facing up.
2. Pull out the leaf fat or kidney fat and kidney.
If the ham is to be artery pumped, leave the artery
intact at its upper attachment.
3. Cut off the head at the atlas joint or first
joint. Cut the jowls or cheeks off close to the jaw-
bone and trim the remaining meat from the head.
4. Saw off the shoulder across the third rib,
counting from the neck. Remove the neckbones or
spareribs. Avoid cutting into the shoulder.
*Extension Meats Specialist
can sugar-cure pork either dry or in sweet-pickle
brine. Because the dry cure is faster, it is popular in
the South where warm weather makes spoilage a
With either the dry or sweet-pickle cure, re-
member the main essentials:
1. Chill the meat and keep it cold.
2. Use the amount of salt in the recipe.
3. Give the meat enough curing time to absorb
the salt thoroughly.
4. Smoke cured meat long enough to drive out
Weigh meat and curing ingredients carefully.
Too little salt may cause spoilage; too much salt
makes hard, dry, oversalty meat.
Keep meat cold while in cure. Hold curing meat
at a temperature near 360 to 400F. Higher temper-
atures increase the chance of spoilage. Lower temp-
eratures slow salt penetration.
If curing temperatures drop below freezing for
several days, add the same number of days to
curing time. Temperatures below 36*F. slow salt
Frozen meat is difficult to handle. If fresh meat
freezes, thaw it in a chill room or in cold brine
before putting it in cure.
Figure curing time carefully. Too few days in
cure may cause spoilage. Too long a cure in heavy
salt results in loss of quality.
1. "A Hog's Not All CHOPS," Pork Industry Group, Na-
tional Live Stock and Meat Board.
2. "Slaughtering, Cutting, and Processing PORK," USDA
Farmers Bulletin no. 2138.
3. "Meat for the Family," Cornell Extension Bulletin 732,
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
Shoulder-cured whole (a) Picnic cured or
fresh roast (b) Boston butt cured or fresh roasts
and pork steaks.
Ham-cured whole roasts and ham steaks.
Fresh roasts and fresh ham steaks.
Belly or Side-cured and smoked bacon.
Fresh fresh pork slices. Cured dry salt bacon and
Loin-cured and smoked roast and chops.
Fresh loin roast and chops.
Jowls-cured and smoked jowl bacon. Fresh -
Lean and Fat Trimmings-sausage.
Spareribs-fresh, smoked or barbecued spareribs.
Pork Carcass Yields
An additional 30 lbs of fat for lard, bones and
waste further reduces this 150 lb carcass to only
120 lbs of saleable retail cuts-chops, hams, bacon,
ribs and sausage-that the retailer packages and
puts on display in the meat case.
ROA I ;ES
ER^S 31.7 1bs.
23.1 lbs. HAM
Pork is cured in three ways-with salt alone,
with salt and sugar, or with salt, sugar, and salt-
peter. The last is the preferred "sugar cure." You
The shoulder can be kept whole, cured and
smoked, or it can be divided into Boston butt and
picnic and used fresh or cured. If the shoulder is
to be cured, it should be smooth and properly
To divide the shoulder into the picnic ham and
Boston butt, cut the shoulder approximately in
half by cutting about one inch below the shoulder
blade and parallel with the breast. Trim the excess
fat and neck meat from the picnic. Cut the excess
fat off the shoulder butt or Boston butt. Square
the picnic by sawing off the foreleg, parallel to the
cut made in dividing the shoulder.
5. Separate the ham from the middle (side) by
sawing across the backbone and through the pelvic
bone. Make this cut just behind the rise in the
backbone, about 21/ inches (the width of three
fingers) in front of the aitch bone, or pelvic bone,
and at right angles to the length of the leg.
Trim the ham and remove the backbone, tail,
and flank. The ham should be trimmed so that
there will be a uniform layer of fat covering the
ham from the butt end to the shank. Saw off the
hind leg at the hock joint. Remove the hock by
cutting one inch below the thick part of the ham.
The hock can be left on the ham and cured with
6. Separate the loin from the side by making a
straight cut from a point close to the lower edge
of the backbone at the shoulder end to a point just
below the tenderloin muscle from which the ham
was cut. Separate the fat back from the loin. Leave
an even covering of fat, about 1 inch thick on the
7. Trim the regular spareribs from the side or
Turn the blade of the knife towards the ribs
that it will not cut into the meat. Square the
by cutting a strip parallel to the loin and wide
i to remove the nipples. The flank end may
ve to be squared.
This publication was printed at an annual cost
of $122.15, or 2.4 cents per copy, to inform
interested residents on how to cut the pork
Single copies are free to residents of Florida and may be obtained
from the County Extension Office. Bulk rates are available upor
request. Please submit details of the request to C.M. Hinton, Publi
cation Distribution Center, IFAS Building 664, University o
Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611.
OPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE AND HOME EC
(Acts of May 8 and June 30,1914)
Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, Univerity of Florida
and United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperating
K. R. Tefertiller, Director