We had a great time on Saturday in spite of the rain and cold. It was Buffalo Growing’s Pig Roast/Cider Pressing at the farm. It began Friday morning when we loaded up the children (and the dogs) and headed to an apple farm on Lake Ontario to collect apples to press into cider. It was a gorgeous day! We had enough apples gathered by lunch time. Then, when we got home, the pig arrived and Dan Ash of Cold Springs Community Garden, a friend of his with pig-roasting experience, and some of us began stuffing the pig with garlic, spices, celery, basil, fresh peppers of ours, dried, smoked peppers of Dan’s, apples, parsley, leeks, onions, and perhaps a few things I’ve forgotten. After we stuffed the cavity, Dan started to sew it up so the innards would stay inside. I left during this process, so I missed the arrival of the real experts who informed those remaining that the spit needed to go into the pig before the vegetable stuffing! So, I’m told that all the stitches were removed, the stuffing came back out, the spit went in, and the stuffing went back in, then the cavity could be sewed up – only these guys had the right tools to do it so it went easier. Finally, the pig was carried into the basement to await the morning and the people all went to bed.
Saturday morning began at 7:00 when Mark and Tucker began to prepare the fire area. Dan had brought enough cinder blocks earlier in the week to make a protected fire place as well as a “pit” to contain the coals that would cook the pig. The iron posts that hold up the spit while it rotates were hammered into place and the firewood was collected. Then the fire started. The pig rotates over the hot coals, so the fire was in one place, and hot coals collected and transferred to the “pit”. The pig was brought out, the motor and pulley that automatically turns the spit set up, coals placed carefully around the periphery, chairs brought out, and we were off …
In the mean time, the vegetables for the stand had to be collected, cleaned and bagged, and the stand itself set up. I did this while the men worked on the pig. During the morning we also received a delivery of manure, answered questions from passers-by, sat down around the fire and played some music with the banjo, guitar, fiddle, and dulcimer, toasted bagels over the fire, sold a bit of produce, and watched the pig turn.
By afternoon, the pig looked brown and yummy, but it still wasn’t done. We pulled off one of the front hocks to boil up with some collards and some of Dan’s famous dried peppers. Patrick from CUFF brought some potatoes, corn and a big hubbard squash to roast around the fire. It was time to begin the cider operation!
We brought the cider press with us when we moved from the farm we used to live on. It was assembled out by the fire. It consists of an apple grinder positioned over a pillow-case lined cylinder. After the cylinder is full of ground apples, a board is placed on top and a handle is turned to press the juice out of the apples. The juice flows into a groove around the base of the cylinder and out into a bucket. There you have it! Before you can do any of this, however, all the apples get washed in a weak bleach water to kill any bacteria on the outside (these apples were drops). Then they all get rinsed off thoroughly. We had quite a few people working on that end of the work flow. After the cider is made, the pulp all gets dumped into the compost pile and the next batch of apples is ground.
About 5:30 the pig-roasting experts arrived to see how the project was going. They recommended allowing the pig to cook for another half-hour and then letting it set for about a half-hour. It began to rain around this point. We were very thankful that someone had a canopy we could set up over part of the table to protect the food and a few people. Around 6:00, we began to eat. Everyone who came was asked to bring a dish to pass, so there was some nice variety to go with the collards and cornbread I made. I also made some hot mulled cider to warm up some chilly people. Finally, at around 6:30, the pig was pronounced finished and the carving began. To say it was delicious would be a gross understatement. The day was a huge success! Perhaps, now that we have experience, we will do it again next year.
This Saturday is our monthly volunteer day from 9 until 12. We have clean-up to do and compost to take care of. We also need to plant a few herbs in the herb garden. So, please come on out an help us.
Here are some pictures my daughter took of the events on Saturday.