It’s hard to believe it was only 2008 when I butchered my first side of Berkshire pig from the Irvings’ farm. It was the beginning of an adventure in charcuterie, and as I sit here about to make another batch of saucisson sec, I can’t help but feel grateful. Since that first side, we’ve done 18 – most from their farm, all done in my garage, generally done like this.
Alan and Nicola are wonderful, hard working folks tackling not only the animal husbandry business, but the meat processing side as well – specializing in British sausages and cured products they grew up with. They’ve filled a void in the charcuterie game around here, no question, and it’s keeping them busy. So busy that a lot of the pork they process is from other local farms – something Nicola talked about on camera, but didn’t make the edit.
In this video, Nicola talks about Berkshires, feed, what got them started, and shares some frustration about a general lack of understanding on the consumer’s part about nitrites [which I share]. One piece that got me quite excited is their plan to start rotational pasturing their pigs on their 80 acres – when they do, I’ll be writing about it.
Very interesting! Thanks.
What a fantastic window into the like of Alan and Nicola! I had no idea they had such a massive processing plant on their property. I have my wheels turning on that one… can you picture a sausage making day out there with them for – oh – 8 to 10 of us… making our own recipes. Wouldn’t that be a BLAST. I asked Alan once why he doesn’t smoke anything – and he said… “Hmmm. Mainly because I don’t have a smoker.” Now, I understand that a bit more… why not… but, knowing how easy it is it build a small one that would smoke a huge amount (as Vanja’s dad does), they might want to consider that, too… not that they are not busy enough. But, it adds a huge dimension to what they are already doing. I saw the smoker they have at Sylvan Star cheese (there is a pic of it on my post about the tour) and it was an indoor stainless steel smoker…not what I envision here. And, why a smoker? Because there is no place for the public to hang and smoke their own meat in the city. The need is there.
Excellent information. I want to go! I buy all of my pork from them and it IS exceptional! They are exceptional people, and the Edmonton Slow FOod Winter Solstice will be roasting one of their pigs… (but NOT Cinder and ELLA….!!!!)
VGC – you’re welcome, glad you enjoyed it.
Valerie – their kitchen is certainly large, as you can see, and I’m glad it’s got you thinking of those types of possibilities!! They have a fairly high capacity smoker – it’s in the shot pointing at its chimney panning downward…not sure that’d help find it. Having a facility open to the public is an ambitious concept, esp given fire and botulism are considerations. But insofar as having commercial gear for smoking available for a class – totally see why that’d rock. Do I hear a bacon class in the works?
Congratulations Kevin on a great video of us!!
Not so sure I like the very unattractive video of me in my ‘pig clothes’, but that’s just how things are when we are out on the farm getting our hands dirty!!
You’ve covered some great issues – it is nice that we get a chance to air our thoughts and feelings on subjects that very rarely get talked about – it’s time consumers understood what happens in industrial farming, and the huge difference between what industrial food stands for, and what we, as small local producers’ stand for. There is more to it than just $$$.
Thanks to everyone who supports what we do – this is one huge show of your support!
Cool video. Nicola, you look fine, and are a wonderful advocate for small producers. This is how food production should be. As you know, my background is in Ag. Econ. Aberystywth Uni,. where I earned my degree, was the first in the world to coin the term holistic agriculture – and that’s what you do. Thank you, to you, Alan, and the children for doing what you do, you make my world a better place. And thank you Kevin for this: the Irvings are very special people.
Great to hear Nicola talk about the need to educate people on nitrites and nitrates. Many people think that since nitrite is a preservative it must be a harmful product associated with industrial processing. Really it’s the essential ingredient to all meat-curing, whether done in a home kitchen or a factory. It’s what makes the meat SAFE to eat!
NIcola – thanks for leaving a comment, and a well worded one, no less. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and thanks again for being willing to be a part of the project.
Ann – I appreciate your kind words aimed in their direction. They deserve it.
Allan – I agree. ‘Nitrate-free’ = ‘new and improved with potential botulism!’
Great video! I spoke with Nicola over the phone recently and I have now ordered my first side, which I’m scheduled to pick up this weekend (can’t wait). Nicola was excellent to deal with and she really helped me figure out how to have the side cut. I look forward to doing more business with the Irvings.
I had all but given up on eating sausages et al becasue of all of the by products and amount of sodium in them. But over the holidays i had occasion to have some of the sausages patties my daughter purchased that were sodium and filler free.
They were, to say the least, fabulous. Not only were they very delicious but cooking them was very easy as well.
We will definately be purchaseing again.
Keep up the good work!