Cracklings, Anyone?

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Hog butchering is done frequently this time of year on Amish farms.  The job is messy and no one wants to render lard or clean intestines when its 100 degrees outside in July.  So late winter, before the busy gardening season begins, is prime time for pork.  Elizabeth Coblentz, the original Amish Cook, wrote about hog butchering in an early column. She wrote about it with graphic accuracy.  Back in those days I would try to sell the column to newspapers by sending a sales packet with sample Amish Cook writings in it.  I sent one of my packets to Ron Krueger, food editor of The Flint Journal in Michigan.  He couldn’t be persuaded to subscribe to The Amish Cook (a huge disappointment to me at the time) but he wanted to run one column, the one about hog butchering because he found it “fascinating.”  So, with my blessing, he published it. And that concluded the column’s briefest of runs in The Flint Journal.

One of the most fascinating aspects of pork butchering columns written by The Amish Cook is the reference to “cracklin’s” or “cracklings.”  These are fried or roasted pig skin, that some people really like or really dislike.  The top photo is a picture of some of Lovina’s recently made cracklin’s.  And below are a picture of cracklin’s made by an Amish-Mennonite family in Kansas that I visited over the winter. Notice how different each version of “cracklings” look?  I ‘m not sure what accounts for the difference, and it’s possible that these are different pork parts altogether, different types of hogs, or maybe I just don’t enough about pork to write about it:)   Any pork people out there know much about cracklings and what accounts for the different coloration and texture?

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The Discussion

  1. Zelka Cani says:

    The top picture of pork crackling is just chopped up or diced pork fat. Please note that the skin itself is actually removed, it is not used in the crackling process, it is the thick fat under the skin that is fried up. The picture below is fat that has been shredded or ground and then fried, hence the different texture. The shredded crackling will be a more ‘melt in your mouth’ crackling. Some tend to have some meat on it also which is a more flavoursome crackling others will remove the meat all together and just have pure fat. When the fat is rendered, the solid bits are called crackling and the liquid fat that is left is what is called lard. It is allowed to set and then used in cooking etc..In old times it was used to make soap also. It does not make a difference what type of hog is used, it all depends on how much fat is on that hog. Yummy, please send us some. My husband would move the earth for fresh made crackling.

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  2. Donna Vincent says:

    I live in south Louisiana and cracklings are quite common. You can buy them in grocery stores. Here we cut up the skin with a little fat on it and fry in a little lard . It actually makes more lard in the process and you have cracklings . What made the difference in the 2 pics is temperature and size. Frying at high temps will make darker cracklings. We like to cut them larger and fry them at medium heat. You have to watch them close as they cook. What does Lovina do with hers. Does she cook with with them or snack on them? Here we snack on them and also put them in cornbread.

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