Delivery & Pickup Route – Backhauling
A few question about your delivery-logistics: You wrote, you drop off pigs and pickup meat. Do you wait a few houres at the butcher-shop until your pigs are butchered and deliver the fresh meat to the costumers? -So you dont have to freeze and store the meat? Or do the butcher store it for you until next time? And if so: what do you think about shock-frosting? -is it really necessary for maintaining meat-quality? Thanks. I’m enjoying reading your blog, while doing my bureau-job, dreaming of land-live…;) best regards, Peter
Good questions. Here’s the sequence, using letters to keep track of pigs:
This week we deliver pigs M using the animal transport area in the back half of our extended body cargo van. They went to Adams Family Slaughterhouse in Massachusetts which is at the ‘A’ on the map above.
After the pigs were unloaded and paper work was done we pickup the meat from pigs L who had been delivered to the butcher last week. This goes into the chest cooler in the middle section of our van.
After dropping off pigs this week we head north again with the meat from pigs L to deliver that day to stores, restaurants and individuals.
On occasion we also go to the smokehouse to drop of meat for hot dogs making or to pickup the next batch of hot dogs. That is the far southern tip of the route.
A little bit of the meat from pigs L, left over from what we picked up this week and delivered, goes into our freezer for future smoked hot dogs and kielbasa as well as a little bit of oddments which go into Farmer’s Baskets or sold in batches as happens with ribs to certain restaurants during some seasons.
Meanwhile, back at the butcher, pigs M who were dropped off this week are held for slaughter until tomorrow morning at the butcher. This gives them a chance to recover from their long trip. The barn where they are held is well lit, has many stalls, hay and was designed by renowned animal science researcher Temple Grandin. Its the Ritz Carlton of barns.
After slaughter the carcasses from pigs M go to the chiller where the heat of the meat is removed and the temperature of the meat is brought down to just above freezing. The meat then hangs over the weekend. The hanging allows the meat to naturally age, tenderize and the flavor to develop.
Monday morning at the butcher shop the carcasses are taken from the hanging room chiller to the cutting room where they get reduced to the primals and cut to chops, roasts, ham, belly and the like, ground as needed, vacuum sealed and labeled.
Next week we’ll drop off pigs N and pickup the meat from pigs M to deliver stores.
The reason for this sequencing is that we can’t hang out at the butcher waiting for the slaughter and cutting, the butcher can’t do it that fast, we need an efficient run and the meat really does need to hang for a while to properly age. Some places kill and cut the meat hot which does not produce the best quality. There is a myth that pork doesn’t need to hang. They used to say that about beef and lamb too. Read here to find out about the experiments I did with hanging time for pork – the short answer is hanging improves quality.
Once we have enough frozen boneless meat and leaf lard in the freezer accumulated for making hot dogs or kielbasa we’ll then take that to the smokehouse at the southern most point of our route for them to make a batch or two. Each batch is about 7,000 hot dogs and it takes a while to accumulate enough extra from weekly deliveries. This week we reached that point of having enough so next week we’ll be doing another batch of hot dogs. Get out your sharp pointy sticks!
Shock freezing, blast freezing and blast cooling are all techniques for fast cooling. With the blast freezing the goal is creating microcrystals of water in the meat instead of the larger crystals. This preserves meat quality since the longer crystals do more damage, puncturing the cell walls and releasing the fluids from the meat. In our butcher shop we’ll be using a blast cooler and a blast freezer to control quality. But that is something for the future when we have our own facility setup. Currently we use a standard chest freezer. Basically, the faster you get across the boundary from liquid to solid the smaller the crystals and the better the quality.
Red Eft – Elf of the Woods who does not travel.
We don’t typically freeze the meat we deliver to stores and restaurants. Part of our niche is to deliver fresh weekly. While we do keep the meat at about 32°F, it is interesting to know that meat doesn’t actually freeze until lower than 32°F. The idea storage temperature is at about 27°F [1, 2]. That keeps the meat quality up for longer without freezing. Since we deliver to the customers so quickly the long term storage is not an issue right now but I would like this ability. In the future when we have our own walk in coolers we will use this technology which means we’ll be able to store pork fresh longer without freezing it.
Developing a routine like this is an important detail that makes the whole system work. The van burns about the same gas per mile full or empty. Keeping it full makes it so we’re moving more weight per gallon, wasting less fuel and time on empty miles and thus make more efficient use of both gas and time. Doing deposits, picking up pomace and other things along the route further increases efficiency of trips. The game isn’t miles per gallon but rather pounds transported per gallon and hour.
Rinse and repeat 52 times a year.
Related article: Hot Pigs
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Tiny Cottage: 65°F/60°F
Daily Spark: “Specialization is for insects.” -Lazarus Long (R.Heinlein)