How To Dry Cure 12lbs Of Berkshire Hog Jowls

In the 1894 Berkshire Yearbook And Breeding Herds tome, the Berkshire hog is lauded by W.H Embry and Gregory (livestock commission merchants) thusly: “We consider the English Berkshire, as a class, the best hogs for the market. The Berkshire is the best hog to follow cattle as you can make him weigh 300lbs in 10 months and he will walk farther to market than any breed of same fat and weight.

Notable boars of that distant year were named Bering’s King Lee and Golden Duke VI.

I’m daydreaming about hogs as I motor up I-75 through Eastern Kentucky. I’ve been in contact with Sean Clark, the director of Berea College Farm, and he’s agreed to have a worker set back a few hog jowls that the concern has recently butchered off pigs that were raised on the college’s pastures.

I’ve written about Berea College’s Farm in the past, and suffice to say, if you want pastured pork raised the way hogs were reared back in the 1890s, this is where the conversation begins in Eastern Kentucky.

The old college had already been running for 40 years when that Berkshire Yearbook was published in 1894.

After making my purchase I continued north to Lexington where I could use a work space to submit the jowls to the cure.

How To Dry Cure 12lbs Of Berkshire Hog Jowls

How To Cure 12lbs Of Berkshire Hog Jowls


12lbs (5443 grams) Berkshire Hog Jowls

13.59 grams Sodium Nitrite (.47 ounces) Quick Cure

96.12 grams Salt, kosher (3.39 ounces)


* Thoroughly combine salt and sodium nitrite

* Sprinkle over jowls (be thorough)

* Place jowls on perforated pan or wire grid in fridge

* Make sure there’s a pan beneath the jowls to catch the liquid that will be drawn out by the

* Every 24 hours flip jowls over

* Do this for 12 days

* Rinse cure off jowls with cold water (be thorough)

* Return to fridge, place on wire grid or perforated pan, allow to dry overnight

* Slice a filet off one of the jowls and fry it in a pan to test salinity

* Build fire in smoker with oak, cherry or pecan wood

* Smoke at low temperature for 2-3 hours (I ran my temp at 200 degrees)

* Refrigerate and prepare to slice your jowls

I have a friend who bought a Hobart slicer at a pawn shop, and I use this pro-grade machine to slice all the meats I cure. If you don’t have access to an electric slicer use your sharpest blade and take your time to make the cuts as even as possible.

Do some research in your community and find a farmer who’s raising Duroc, Berkshire, Large Black or other heritage breed pork

If you can’t find heritage pork then go to the local Winn-Dixie and buy jowls from the cold case. They will still taste good.

If you’d like, add sugar, maple syrup, fresh or dried herbs or chili peppers to your cure. I experimented with all these adjuncts before I discovered I like my jowls flavored simply with nothing more than salt and hardwood smoke

Be safe with all your charcuterie projects.

Here is a handy calculator to ensure that you will have correct ratios

In the December 5th 1912 edition of The Citizen (Berea’s newspaper) a H.T Morgan had this to say about Berkshires: “The quality of Berkshire grades and crosses is unusually high. They have long been recognized as profitable killers cutting out good hams, tidy shoulders extra good backs and loins with a high proportion of side and belly cuts”

Mr Morgan left out jowls.

And I can attest that the ones that are butchered off Berkshires raised on Berea’s College Farm stand among the finest in the US.

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