Mold in season
Today is slicing day. I’m slicing coppa, guancialle, fiocco, and ham (for sandwiches). Of course, we make sure it’s all good as we go. That’s a more important step than one may think. After hanging for some time, the pieces ideally have some mold on them. This helps impart desireable flavors and keep the meat safe–if it’s a good white mold. Green and black mold are BAD. We’re constantly patrolling the hanging room for good molds and bad molds, and I also check as I’m slicing to be sure a given piece doesn’t contain an unpleasant surprise. When we see green or black mold it gets treated with apple cider vinegar. If it’s just a small spot, a spray from a spray bottle usually does the trick. Larger areas require some scrubbing and rinsing in the shop with the vinegar and water. Then the piece dries and hangs in the shop a day or two to make sure it got cleaned thoroughly before returning to the hanging room. Mold spores are airborne, so when I find a little mold on a piece I mist the floor and general area lightly with the vinegar as a precautionary measure. Last year we had more trouble with mold, but this year these measures have worked well.
Another lesson learned this year is that seasonality is an element in the quest for good vs. evil molds. The reasons for harvesting hogs in the fall when the nights are cold include the fact that the cooler temperatures retard mold and allow the pieces to go through the initial cure, when they are most moist and therefore most vulnerable, with greater safety. When the more humid summer months come the pieces are either done and in use, or have a protective layer that is dryer and less conducive to mold growth.
There are many other reasons to harvest pigs in the fall and many other ways to control molds in your hanging room. We discuss them in the classes, which are now all updated and available. Check out either the Saturday classes to jump into the process that interests you, or come to the weekend class to get an intensive experience!