Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Question from Email: Eating boars

Question from a reader about eating boars:

your boar story caught my attention.. i was curious how old that boar was.. 700 pounds 
I'd guess he was over 18 months.. My dad is in [town removed, but about 20 miles from
 me] and buys those boars and cuts them then feeds them for a few months then 
butchers them and still turns it into sausage.. i am in maryland now and farms 
out here are nonexistent and i have access to a 400 pound hampshire for like 30
 cents a pound and the boar is 9 months old and am trying to decide if i just 
want to butcher him straight away or try to castrate him and then feed him 
out for another couple months.. i've killed wild hogs (all sows) because of
 the smell issue and i have noticed that even wild sows meat smell bad 
but just like all other wild game i just discard all the fat.. unfortunately
 i love pork chop fat but if it has to go it has to go.. another issue is
 the anectdotal toughness which could be more related to age than
 sex.. at any rate, i was trying to find otu what your results of the
 smoked hams and stuff were and how old that boar was you 
described to help me kind of make up my mind.. considering hogs 
are still selling at a buck a pound live weight here im thinking this 
boar turned into sausage is still a lot cheaper than taking more days
 off from work to go deer hunting :) if you could let me know some of
 that info i would really appreciate it.

thanks in advance..

I think that he's referring to this blog entry in this message, where i talk about
eating a 700lb boar that we culled.  I was curious to see what the meat was
like, as I'd read about other folks eating boars, and frankly, the market price
 on big boars is Terrible, truly horrible.  

And that's what he's talking about there.  400lb boar at $0.30/lb is $120.00
 for the animal, which for meat is very, very cheap.  That's part of the
 reason that I never sell boars at auction, and I don't sell many to customers.
  I usually will cull and process them here on the farm.  

My experience with that particular boar was that the meat was fine,
 particularly in sausage form.   I really couldn't tell the difference between
 old boar sausage and sausage made from a younger pig.  I'm going to
 talk about why that is now.  

The issue with boars, and this is reflected in the market price, is that
 there is a risk that the boar will have an unpleasant taste present in
 its fat.  It's commonly referred to as "boar taint", and concern
about the potential for boar taint is the primary reason that male
 pigs are castrated routinely in the US market.  Without testicles
 the animal will not have boar taint.  

Boar taint is only detectable to a small percentage of the population;
I've found about 1 person in 20, or 5%, can detect it.  For someone
 who can smell boar taint, the smell of cooking boar has an
amonia/wet dog odor that is pretty strong.  The meat is edible, its
just the smell that puts folks off.    In my immediate family my brother
 Bryan cannot smell it, nor can my brother Ken, but I can.  

I processed another boar that did have boar taint, and couldn't stand
 the smell of the cooked meat.  I gave the bacon to my brothers, and
 they both said that it was great.  No complaints.  So I ended up giving
 the whole animal to them, and they, and their families ate it. 

With older animals the meat is tougher, and is better suited to slower
 cooking methods.  I wouldn't grill an older animals pork chops,
 but I sure would stew them.  Sausage is the easiest thing to do, as
 the grinding of the meat removes any toughness issues.  But the
boar taint issue remains.    The hams were tough and chewy.
Tasty, but probably better as sausage.  

This may sound gross so far, but realize that a lot of the sausage you
see in the store is culled sows from hog units.  The meat is fine, and
sausage spicing is such that it really is the dominate flavor.  Even if
 there were boar taint you wouldn't detect it in sausage.  

Yes, you can buy boars at a relatively low cost, but there's a small
 chance that you can't eat them.  The only way that I've been able to
 reliably tell is to cook a bit of the fat with a propane torch at time of
 slaughter.  Since I can smell it if has boar taint then I will usually
 either turn the animal into spiced sausage -- pepperoni, andui,
chorizo -- or I'll grind the animal and use it to feed my airedales.  
 Good quality dog food is north of $1/lb, and so I'm basically getting
 at least that when I use it to feed my pack.  

I do not reccomend castrating a big boar; the testicles are huge,
 have a big blood supply, and unless you have a way to stop the
 bleeding can cause the death of the animal.  Plus it is a 700lb
 animal, and major surgery on that size pig is a big undertaking.
  A big boar is a very, very powerful animal, and if he gets wind of
what you're thinking...  

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