Corned Pork on Store Shelves!

Sugar Mountain Farm Corned Pork Label

Before there was corned beef for St. Patrick’s day there was corned pork – an interesting bit of history I recently learned while researching the regulations for our new product label.

Hope and Walter Making Corned Pork Long Ago

I was raised on Corned Beef as a traditional special meal although we didn’t limit it to the holiday. Over a decade ago I inadvertently resurrected the traditional pork version of the Irish dish. According to the USDA web site:

“Corned beef has been around for centuries and has been a staple in many cultures, including most of Europe and the Middle East. It gets its name from the “corns” or large grains of salt used to cure the meat. Ireland became known for exporting corned beef in the 17th century after British land owners brought cattle into Ireland. But the Irish people couldn’t afford to eat it themselves. Their traditional dishes used corned pork instead, and they relied heavily on nutrient-dense potatoes to survive.”

I made corned pork instead of corned beef for the same reason that the Irish people did: cost and it was the meat I had on hand. I quickly learned I could make a very good mock-“corned beef” a.k.a. corned pork our own pigs.

Pork in the Brine

Over the decades I’ve tinkered with my recipe, refining it to get it closer and closer to the taste of the corned beef I remember from childhood. Last year I made a goal of bringing it to market in time for St. Patty’s Day – and succeeded. Now that we have our own on-farm butcher shop I’m able to do these sorts of things.

Ready to Age Under a Glass Plate and Lid

This past year my family got to enjoy frequent corned pork meals as well as the occasional store bought corned beef as I refined my by-the-eye recipe to a formulation I could pass through the rigors of USDA/State inspection and labeling regulations.

Weighing Out Pork and Spices

My corned pork for years has been grey colored like a pork roast since I didn’t typically use the curing salt (nitrates/nitrites) but several taste testers suggested considering it for the added a flavor as well as pinker color to the cooked meat which many people like for presentation. I tried the Prague Cure #1 and then explored the natural celery salt alternative for curing that gives both the color and flavor. I found a version of celery salt that was calibrated. This solved the one complain many have with the natural curing agents. It is interesting to note that spinach, celery and many other vegetables have naturally high levels of these curing agents, far higher than you’ll find in bacon, hams or corned meat. I also used cherry powder, not for color as one might initially guess – it’s a white powder, but because it reacts with the celery powder to aid in the curing process. This addition was the final clincher that made the corned pork taste so much like the corned beef I had at family dinners as a child.

Ready to Age and Eat

Early this year I sampled out portions to local store meat managers and chefs at restaurants on our weekly delivery route and with their feedback I made final refinements. This past week we made our first official inspected batch of 45 corned porks which were delivered to stores and restaurants today just in time for the holiday.

Buy Sugar Mountain Farm Corned Pork at:
Hunger Mountain Coop in Montpelier,
City Market in Burlington,
Springfield Coop in Springfield, (Very Limited Supply 3/17)
Shelburne Supermarket in Shelburne (Very Limited Supply)
Plainfield Food Coop in Plainfield (Available 3/22)

Corned Pork – it’s far better than green eggs and ham for the holiday!

Outdoors: 18°F/4°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 62°F/56°F

Daily Spark: My glass is full because I just refilled it.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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12 Responses to Corned Pork on Store Shelves!

  1. eggyknap says:

    Nice to see you posting again! I don’t want to ask you to disclose your new-found secret recipe, but can you give an idea of the process?

    • The basic recipe you can find on the back page of our brochure on the Literature Page. To that recipe I added 0.8% celery salt, refined some of the spices and reduced the plain salt a bit. Note that sources of celery salt very greatly in their quality and precision. But for home cooking it really isn’t needed although it does accent the flavor and pink up the color which many people like.

      For doing a small number corned porks at home use stainless steel, glass, ceramic or plastic containers since the salts will react with copper, plain steel, iron, etc. Allow three to ten days for penetration depending on thickness of the meat, fat cap and probably temperature. I use our vacuum packer which helps with penetration of the brine into the meat without having to use injectors.

  2. Matt says:

    Glad to see you’re still around… No posts for nearly 3 months and I was starting to get concerned!

  3. Pittman says:

    What cut of the pig are u Corning? Shoulder butts or???

    • I have experimented with brisket, Boston butt, picnic shoulder and two different whole muscle cuts from the ham. The brisket is slightly my favorite although on a pig it produces thin cut. The Boston butt is wonderful but I have a lot of demand for that already so very little supply. The striated muscles of the ham work very well and are often well marbled. The picnic shoulder triceps muscle works quite well too. I found that the darker meat muscles from the ham and picnic shoulder were not as good. Loin was also not as good as it is too lean. Belly works superbly but is really bacon at that point.

  4. Frank Robey says:

    I will occasionally smoke a corned beef, I’ll bet a corned pork would be equally as yummy!! I smoke the beef until it get to around 190 internal @200-225, which can take up to 8 hours depending on how thick it is.

  5. Eileen says:

    Sounds tasty. You may want to correct the spelling of “potato” on your label. Either adding an “s” or removing the “e” would do the job on your next run of labels.

  6. Rox says:

    Walter, I just got an e-mail yesterday about an auction, maybe there is some equipment there you might be interested in. Do register with this company, they handle a lot of top auctions. If there is something you want I can put you in touch with my Trucking Broker. We ship olive oil from France to USA and then my trucking broker arranges all of the deliveries once the container is unloaded in New York , usually about 7 different deliveries and he knows which trucking company has the best rates on what routes. You will end up paying way less for trucking if you go through him.

    Click through all the pages, don’t quit early. There is a lot of nice stuff here.

    I wish we were in the States, my husband could have helped you develop your corned pork recipe. He would have done if for simply a free corned pork, and he is really a pro.

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