Learn butch­ery

This month’s course

Country Smallholding - - Inside This Month -

Ifirst read about this pop­u­lar course in a Guardian ar­ti­cle a few years back, where it was feted as one of the best in the UK. As well as teach­ing butch­ery skills with a highly ex­pe­ri­enced teacher, the day it­self is an op­por­tu­nity for good food lovers to take home beau­ti­ful cuts of meat (half a pig’s worth) that they them­selves have learnt to carve.

The course is run by David Cold­man, a sea­soned and en­thu­si­as­tic butcher with more than 35 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence, and I hear, a real knack for ex­plain­ing things in an en­gag­ing down-to-earth way. David’s passion for an­i­mal wel­fare and or­gan­i­cally reared food also makes him the per­fect tu­tor for Em­pire Farm, a Soil As­so­ci­a­tion­cer­ti­fied farm on the Black­more Vale in Som­er­set.

Em­pire Farm runs a range of cour­ses through­out the year, and this tends to be their most pop­u­lar. As the ti­tle sug­gests, it’s a very hands on day. With only four par­tic­i­pant places open at one time (plus four cheaper ob­server spots), num­bers are kept de­lib­er­ately small to en­sure ev­ery­one gets enough guid­ance from David to prop­erly hone their skills. This is the real deal in butch­ery, and the school has an ex­cel­lent rep­u­ta­tion as a re­sult. Monthly dates are avail­able, year round, but places tend to fill up well in ad­vance so you’ll have to be quick if you fancy book­ing a spot.

The course is de­signed for be­gin­ners. Th­ese could be ex­ist­ing small­hold­ers who may be look­ing to di­ver­sify into farm gate or farm shop sales, or just any­one with an in­ter­est in learn­ing the skill of butch­ery. Some at­ten­dees sim­ply take plea­sure in learn­ing where the dif­fer­ent cuts of pork ac­tu­ally come from, and in tak­ing home the hand cut side of pork to fill their freezer.

Start­ing at 9.30am, with tea, cof­fee and in­tro­duc­tions, the ac­tion-packed day also in­cludes lunch, a com­pre­hen­sive hand­out and notes to take home. Par­tic­i­pants are en­cour­aged to bring cool bags and ice blocks where pos­si­ble and to first en­sure they have enough space at home for the var­i­ous roast­ing joints, racks, chops, sausages and so forth, with which they will be laden when they leave.

David cov­ers ev­ery­thing you could need to know when it comes to pro­cess­ing half a pig, from the ba­sic anatomy through to the fin­ished prod­ucts and joints. There is also a sausage-mak­ing ses­sion thrown in at the end, and ba­con mak­ing if time per­mits. He says: “The course of­fers ex­cep­tional value as you get to pack up and take home all the meat you have butchered and your batch of sausages, eas­ily worth £150 if you had to buy it all in a su­per­mar­ket. It is not merely a demon­stra­tion day, but a real op­por­tu­nity to be in­volved in ev­ery part of the process. As some of our at­ten­dees have said, the day puts us back in touch with real meat, not just a packet on a shelf!”

Teacher David Cold­man

Lots to learn!

Learn­ing about cuts

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