Domestic Pig Butchering

Category: Tradition

Butchering a pig is an old Czech tradition which is not as common today as was years ago, and is mainly preserved in Bohemian and Moravian villages.

The zabijacka (butchering), and various pig food products are prepared for winter or early in the year. This includes skvarky (cracklings), Jitrnice (White sausages), Jelita (blood sausages) and the famous blood soup “Prdelacka”.

The butchering usually involves all the family, friend and even neighbors, making it an important social event that takes place during the winter because cold weather prevents the meat from spoiling quickly. This is usually all done outdoors.

The pig is killed in a quick humane way and the butcher proceeds to prepare the carcass by draining all the blood into a container and must be stirred until completely cold to prevent clotting. The pig is washed using a special mixture to remove the hair. The mixture contains hot water (almost boiling) and tree sap. Using a little bell-like object the hair is then easily removed. Sometimes the remaining hair is singed off with a flame.

The pig is then hung and all internal organs are removed. The heart, liver, lungs and head are cleaned and boiled. This is a soup for the workers and the name of the soup is “prdelacka”. Some meat is eaten with horseradish, mustard and rye bread. The meat that is left is ground to be used in the sausages, spices are mixed in as well as cooked barley. Some is chopped and used to make tlacenka (an aspic of meat) The intestines are thoroughly washed and cleaned as they will be used as the casings for sausages when filled they are then boiled and cooled.

The skin together with the fat is cut off in stripes and then cut into cubes which are cooked making “skvarky” cracklings and lard.

When the meat is cold it is cut into the different portions. The meat is then preserved using various methods like freezing, smoking and canning. Making a decent stock for winter.

Historically, the butchering was very common because Czech people needed to prepare food for winter, but now that mass-produced meat is sold in big markets all year around, few people bother raising and butchering their own pigs. And because of that, this amazing social tradition is fading away.