Heritage Music Preserving/Canning

Porkchops and Applesauce In The Mountains

old mountain fence

Pork was the primary source of meat for folks in Appalachia up until the 1950s-60s. Most every family had 2 or 3 hogs and usually in late November or early December when the weather had turned off cold the hogs were readied for slaughter.

Pap’s father, Wade, was known as a “good hog butcher” around our area. He was called to various homes and farms throughout the hog killing season. For his services, some folks paid him in money, most paid by giving him part of the meat, and some who couldn’t afford too-didn’t pay at all.

Pigs in Appalachia

Pap shared some of his hog memories with me:

  • They waited until the temperature was under 40 degrees for 4 or 5 days. He said it was okay if it warmed up some during the day, but the nights needed to be cold.
  • Usually the hogs were penned up in a small pen and fed only corn and water for about 2 weeks before they were slaughtered. This ensured the lard and meat would have a good taste.
  • They tried to go by the signs, but sometimes you had to slaughter when you could. Pap said it did make for better meat and lard if you were able to follow the signs.
  • They had a barrel buried in the ground at a 45 degree angle, boiling water was poured into it and then the whole hog lowered into the water. This helped make the hair easier to scrape off.
  • Pap’s family salt cured and sugar cured most all of their pork placing it in a smokehouse hanging on a wire (keeping it on a wire kept the mice off it-eek!). They canned the backbones, ribs, and the sausage they made. They also used the ears, tongue, and parts of the head to make souse meat which is a ground up meat mixture. Pap said the souse meat was eaten up pretty quickly, in about a week or so.
  • Typically the women begin rendering the lard as the men were still butchering.

I’ve never been involved in hog slaughtering. However, one of my favorite meals is pork chops, biscuits, and applesauce all washed down with sweet tea.

David Grier has a song called Pork chops and Applesauce. Guitar Man plays it for this weeks Pickin’ & Grinnin’ In The Kitchen Spot.

Hope you enjoyed the song-pretty good picking for a youngster!


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  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 6, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    The Deerhunter’s Papaw used to kill a couple of hogs every year. I got to help a few times before he quit. It was quite a process. The problem was I wanted to be outside where the real action was going on. But, no, I was a woman and so I had to stay inside with the wives processing what the men brought in and cooking lunch.
    It was really about a 3 day process including rendering the fat, salting the side and hams, and canning the sausage.
    Lots of work but mighty fine eatin!
    That was a different time1!

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    December 2, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    My dad always had a hog and we most always had some pork in the freezer. Darnd if I didn’t know this may have been another piece of his heritage. I wish I would have paid attention as a child to how he did things. My husband loves pork chops and applesauce but I can never seem to make it just right!

  • Reply
    December 2, 2008 at 11:57 am

    I well remember hog killing time. It was a lot of work–and messy. I was always fascinated by the curing salt they used. It seemed to move in the big pot they used to dip the meat to coat it with the salt.
    We had mice too to keep off the meat. And the smoke house always smelled so good when they were smoking the bacon and stuff. We never cured hams, I don’t remember why. Daddy probably preferred it be used in some other way.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Oh Tipper this brings back such memories. My maternal grandfather and my father would butcher a couple of hogs every fall. We usuall had some snow on the ground when this took place. It seems that it was done much the same as your grandfather…the barrel at a 45 degree angle with boiling water (they lit a wood fire under the barrel to keep it boiling). My grandfather built his own smokehouse and he made the best sausage ever. I can’t say that I did anything but watch as a kid. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I’m back from holiday travels and have posted another installment of my short story. This is my favorite installment because I am so enchanted by a new character. Love, love, love this one.
    I don’t eat pork and can’t eat it for religious reasons. Josh and I follow the Biblical dietary laws but I do know that applesauce is served with pork so that it can be better digested.
    Neat pictures and stories!

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    December 1, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Good pickin!!
    And I’m enjoying the Christmas music.
    I have memories of hog killin time. I remember slopping the hogs with my dad. He’d built a pen for them, to fatten them up.
    I remember the day we slaughtered them, seeing them hung up by their hind legs. Mom in the kitchen cutting up the meat. She made biscuits and fried some tenderloin for supper. Was so good!! She made souse meat, too. Mom said when she was growing up in TN, that the kids took the bladder, washed it good, blew it up and played with it like a ball.
    Porkchops and applesauce–yum!! Biscuits and gravy to go with it. Maybe some fried taters.

    • Reply
      b. Ruth
      November 12, 2018 at 10:52 pm

      My Dad said they did the same thing with the bladder of the hog…Didn’t last long among five rough and tumble mountain boys however he said…Other than that fun…Dad said he hated hog killin’ time…

  • Reply
    December 1, 2008 at 8:06 am

    Hog, BT and I have lots of memories regarding those. One of his best was he was about 5 years old when he knock his 4 yr old sister off a rock wall into the pig pen with some mean sows. All he could do was laugh.
    One of mine is when we were dating (and i was a city girl) I was at the home home place on butchering day. When it came to the killing, his younger brothers and sisters (& in all) though it would be funny to give me the dish pan of blood to stir for the blood sausage. No wonder I still won’t eat the stuff.
    Butchering day was always so much fun at the farm. They would kill 3 to 7 hogs, depending on who in the neighborhood wanted one. Later it was which one of us married kids needed one.
    Those days are gone now for us. His Dad has passed, but my how he loved butchering days. I can still see his fat hands working the meat. Mom rendering the lard for her wonderful pie crust or to fry donuts. The grandmother cleaning casings for sausage. Not a thing was wasted.
    Thanks for bring these memories back.
    Sorry to hear the girls didn’t get deer. Hope the deer hunter got one.
    We have snow too this morning, but just a dusting.
    Have a great week.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2008 at 2:16 am

    i LOVE applesauce with pork…chops, roast, whatever. cannot imagine eating it without applesauce which mark thinks is gross. i just finished cutting up all the fixins for enchildas which will sit in frig overnight before i roll em up tomarrow night. our guild party is thurs and guess what i am bringing? tori will be here soon, i am so happy. hope everyone is doing great!

  • Reply
    November 30, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Wow, I loved that music video! He’s excellent! Keep up the good work!

  • Reply
    November 30, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    I think food one has to work for is the tastiest. What a great reminder of what goes into the making of Sunday supper!

  • Reply
    November 30, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Enjoyed reading and listening as always. When I was very young, we raised hogs. I wanted them as pets and fell in love with them, my parents however, slaugtered them. It was a big day for this, with aunts, uncles and cousins all coming to help out. I watched the whole process in innocent horror and to this day I cannot raise a hog, because I do not want to slaughter it. However, I do love pork. I am afraid, I am not a very good farm girl, because all of the animals here are my babies. LOL. blessings, Kathleen

  • Reply
    November 29, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Because my computer had conked out on me (I now am the proud owner of a new laptop!), I haven’t been around much…missed you and reading your blog! Hope you had a good Thanksgiving!

  • Reply
    November 29, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Sometimes I wonder if you’re not kin to my husband. 🙂
    His daddy’s family were hog farmers and carpenters and raised their pigs in a little holler over the mountain.
    It’s still called Pigpen Holler to this day.
    We have raised hogs ourselves though not in the last couple years.
    That’s about to change…we miss that fresh tenderloin and sausage!
    Add some fried apples and yum yum!

  • Reply
    November 29, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Sometimes I wonder if you’re kin to my husband’s people!
    His daddy’s family were hog famers and carpenters. They used to raise their pigs in a little holler over the mountain, it’s still called Pigpen Holler to this day.
    We still raise a hog occasionally, love that fresh tenderloin and sausage! And fried apples, yum!

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    November 29, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    My dad should have known that raising a hog to kill would not fit in our family. He should have learned from his rabbit raising venture. But he had nine mouths to feed and his workaday job didn’t pay much so he was always trying to find ways to put meat on the table.
    We hadn’t been country people. Before moving to the River in ’53 we had always lived in town. We had seen hog slaughtering but had never raised a pig.
    Before the pig, maybe the year before, he brought home some rabbits. He was going to let them multiply and then take some for meat and sell the extras. None of us seven kids would eat what became our pets and the rabbits didn’t reproduce for some reason, so his enterprise failed.
    When he brought home the little pink piglet, we knew from the start that it was destined to be porkchops.
    But as spring wore into summer and “Oinky” (as we kids had come to call him) began to root out of his crudely fenced confines and follow us around like a puppy, we prayed that the day would never come when our little buddy, our pet, would be sacrificed.
    He grew all summer and into the fall, though still a fairly small pig when winter came on. And, he had become our number one pet and a favorite among the kids up and down the road. We loved him as much as Elvis loved Ol’ Shep.
    Dad knew the deed wouldn’t get any easier, and he intended to send “Oinky” to his destiny quickly, before the pig became even more a part of the family.
    I can still see the picture in my mind, etched there lo these fifty some years.
    Riding home on the school bus, approaching our house, looking out the window as we passed the Rogers’ house down over the bank. There, in Mr. Rogers’ back yard, down by the river, hanging by his back feet from a cross pole, head down and lifeless, was Oinky.
    The Heartbreak and grief was overwhelming. All of us kids broke into a collective wail and moaned all through the evening. Dad tried hard, as did Mom, to get us to understand but we would have none of it.
    By the time we came home from school the next day, Oinky had been converted into meat made for eating. Mom fried up a bunch of the pork chops and put them on the table. Not a single kid ate ary a bite of Oinky; not that night and not the next and, and not ever.
    I don’t think Dad gave Oinky a proper burial but I do remember that his remains were gone the next day and Dad never again tried to raise any animals for food.

  • Reply
    November 29, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    I used to help Grandma and Mom render lard when the menfolk butchered the hogs. It was hard work and the neighbors gathered together to butcher hogs and they went from one farm to the other until the job was done.
    Thanks for the memories. I enjoyed my visit, as always.

  • Reply
    Amy @ parkcitygirl
    November 29, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Very interesting! I feel so far removed from our “food” it’s a great reminder – thanks for sharing your heritage 🙂

  • Reply
    City Mouse/Country House
    November 29, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Awesome pickin! Really, truly a great job! (And that’s coming from a musician in New York.) =)
    I was just reading that chicken was not really a very popular meat in the US until the 1940s and 50s. Interesting. Remember that old Brady Bunch episode … “Pork Chops and Apple Sauce?”

  • Reply
    November 29, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Enjoyed your post. I think in our area they usually butchered the hogs around Thanksgiving. I remember my family doing it when I was a child. I can still hear the pig squeal. We used to fill the bladders with water and toss them like a balloon. I remember “slopping the hogs” as we called it when we took the bucket of “slop” out to pour in their trough at feeding time. I don’t know why we called it slop, it sounds kind of gross, doesn’t it, when you think about it.

  • Reply
    noble pig
    November 29, 2008 at 12:41 am

    I’m sure it more tasty than all the processed stuff we get these days.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    My folks were raised in Kansas in very poor families, both mothers being widowed with large families. I doubt that either of them raised/butchered their own meat, but my Dad could do just about anything. He and Mother kept hogs and calves for the freezer. This was in the 40-50’s. They set up the butchering table outside on a cold day in northern Calif. To make things go faster, my Dad rigged up a motor with a big wheel and long belt to my Mother’s little hand cranked meat grinder! Sure made processing the sausage meat/hamburger/venison a lot easier. Oh, and cracklin’s! Did you ever have those? We kids loved those. Yuck!

  • Reply
    November 28, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    This was so interesting to me! I raised pigs for my FFA project in high school. One of my pigs was a little bit wild and we couldn’t get him loaded when it was time to take him to the butcher shop, so called the local butcher, who was a friend of ours. He brought out his mobile butcher truck and I did help with the butchering. (I was a lot less squeamish in those days!) It was very similar to what you’ve described. Quite an experience.
    Loved todays video. He did a great job!

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    November 28, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Tipper: I also like pork chops. Often when we go to the Texas Roadhouse I’ll order the pork chops and a sweet potatoe.

  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    November 28, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Good pickin’ Guitar Man! You really got that ‘spider fretting’ down. 🙂
    I told you my Grandad raised hogs, but he didn’t butcher his own. He would run them through Pig Town to Cross Street Market where the butcher would take care of everything. The butchers is gone now, but I remember it all.
    I also remember how sweet those pork roasts and chops tasted, although I still don’t care for souse. I do love scrapple though! I also love the pictures of the fields and fence.
    Totally enjoying the Christmas music of Pap and Paul. You know I had to listen to it all before commenting. Thanks for sharing it with us. xxoo

  • Reply
    November 28, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    My grandparents always said “It’s cold enough to kill hogs.” I’ve never seen it done but I do love homemade sausage. The bestest in the whole world.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    We have a neighbor who still butchers his own hogs. When we first moved out here to our farm, I got a big surprise one day. I went out for a run and there was a hog hanging and men/women very busy with everything. I was used to living in a suburban neighorhood. It was quite a shock then, but has become much more commonplace.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Girlfriend, did you bring back some memories. I was a little girl of 5 or 6 and can remember granddad & my great uncles gathering when it was, as they called it, hog killing weather. My brother & I stood & watched granddad do the deed…I won’t gross you out….hoist the hog by the hind legs and do the throat thing…..& all the rest. What a great memory….& those pork chops, black-eyed peas, sweet potatoes and cornbread…..oooohhhhweeee!

  • Reply
    Helen G.
    November 28, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    My daddy was born and reared in Tennessee. There was a lot of years that we’d go back to Wartrace for family reunions. We usually stayed at daddy’s sister and brother-in-law’s place. They had an elderly gentleman that work for them and he smoked the best hams I believe I ever ate. And the red-eye gravy that mom or Aunt Fannie would make was so good in the morning with hot biscuits, fried ham and farm fresh eggs. That was some of the best-ever eating.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    I have memories of hog killing time when I was a little girl. We were not allowed to be around when the slaughter took place, but I remember the hog being hung by hind legs after the scalding took place, and I remember the scraping of the hair off the hog that looked so strange and naked. Life on a farm in S GA was not too different from life on a farm in Appalachia, I guess. We had a smoke house where the meat was hung. I must have been about four or five years old at the time.
    We always had pork, sausage, but Mother would not eat souse. I think it was given to the people who helped with the hog killing.
    You can stir up memories, Tipper. Thanks

  • Reply
    Julie at Elisharose
    November 28, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    My grandfather was a butcher. He taught my dad who, although a chemist, was an avid hunter and usually butchered his own deer. My husband did not grow up with hunters, but has learned from my dad. I’ve helped process the meat once it’s removed from the carcass, but I’ve never been part of the actually butchering. And I CAN say that I don’t want to be.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Wow! Way to go Guitar Man!
    Boo was also impressed!

  • Reply
    November 28, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    That was some awesome picking, indeed!
    I’m enjoying the Christmas tunes you’ve added to your Playlist, too!
    I’ve heard my mom talk about hog butchering time in the fall. One of her favorites was the hog head cheese they made.
    My husband sat with an elderly Alzheimer patient for three years, until the men died earlier this year. Each fall when the weather got colder, the man would start telling my husband they needed to get to the farm, as it was time to butcher the hog. The man didn’t remember who anyone was or that he no longer had a farm, or anything else, really, but when the weather cooled, instinct, I guess, reminded him it was hog butchering time! 😉

  • Reply
    November 28, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    I had an uncle who started out as a butcher. He aised pigs and was known for his fantastic sausage. I can remember as a child climbing and sitting on top of the pig pen fence to watch the pigs go up the chute to be slaughtered. They go behind closed doors, we kids would hear a loud thump and then a bunch of blood would drain down the chute. We would stand there and just gape at the blood pouring down. Sounds horrifying, and I an’t imagine parents allowing kids to do such things today, but other than feeling sorry for the pigs – it never gave me nightmares. I just couldn’t see any other alternative to get the sausage we all craved.But it is a weird childhood memory.

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