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?