This weekend was a Mabon like no other. The equinox brought with it our pig harvest, as well as much goodness from the garden. As we tried to get to grips with how to cure bacon, render fat and store two pigs worth of meat in our freezer, friends came and went sharing the goodness with us.
I used this really easy recipe to make pulled pork, it came out beautifully, falling apart and melting in the mouth. I used one of our fresh butt roast joints with a nice layer of vitamin D infused fat, which gave the pork succulence and flavour. I also found this recipe for natural bbq sauce on Youtube, it used ingredients I had and was very easy to make, though I cooked it for about 45 mins on simmer just to get it nice and thick. If the comments from my friends and family were anything to go by it was a winning combination and a good way to use a beautiful joint of meat.
For information on curing our bacon and on using the different cuts we are turning to The River Cottage Meat Book, it has information on raising, slaughtering and butchering all animals. There are many recipes, though some are a little bit more complex than average, and I am using the recipe and method for curing bacon that he recommends. When curing meats lots of people like to use Prague or Pink Salt (a nitrate) to prevent botulism, it is listed as an optional ingredient in the recipe we are using and other British recipe sources I checked. As we will be thoroughly cooking our bacon (botulism is killed when heated above 160) we decided to keep our cure all natural. If we do uncooked deli meats such as salami I think I might use it, just to be on the safe side.
When I think of a harvest festival I am taken back to my childhood, parading up to the front of the local church in my brownie uniform and placing our tinned donation with the others from the community. It was a sedate affair, orderly and controlled. Our harvest, a real harvest, is anything but. It is rushed and busy, noisy and fun, stressful and overwhelming, rewarding and joyful.
As I worked alongside friends this weekend, all learning new skills and delighting in the process, our kids played happily for hours free from the overly watchful gazes of their parents. In their own worlds they explored many crazy fantasies that we listened in on periodically. Their freedom contrasted with our labour and reminded us to lift our heads occasionally and take a break, breathe and watch the sky for a little while.
This week work of the harvest continues as we rush to beat the weather and bring in the goodness of our garden, capturing it in our larder to feed us for the year. In the meantime there is school, other work outside our home, clubs, play dates, camping trips and all the usual goodness of family life. As I wake each day knowing I have more to do than I can achieve, knowing I will never actually meet my own goals no matter how hard I try, I am still so grateful and filled with happiness at the abundance of our harvest.