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How do you read the butcher chart for pork?

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Quick Answer

A butcher chart for pork presents a pig divided into five section. Each section indicates the cuts of meat that can be produced from that area. All cuts are labeled, and some charts, such as the one provided by Sugar Mountain Farm's website, also indicate how each cut can be prepared.

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Full Answer

Starting at the top of the pig's back, just behind the head, is the first section containing the neck and Boston shoulder. The neck can be ground, while the Boston shoulder, also called the Boston butt shoulder, is typically turned into sausage, ground meat, roasts, pulled pork or hot dogs.

The loin section, located on the pig's back, contains four types of loins: blade end, rib end, center and sirloin end. This area can produce up to 23 pork chops, or it can be prepared as loin roast or tenderloins.

The ham section stretches from the top of the butt end to the shank end, or just behind the pig's tail to just above its back legs. This area produces up to 15 pounds of fresh ham and can be prepared as smoked ham, ground meat, ham steaks, hot dogs or sausage.

The center to the underside of the pig is considered the side section. This is where both rib and belly bacon are produced, as well as spare ribs.

The final section is the picnic shoulder. This area is typically used in roasts, but it can also be ground, used as steak, cooked as pulled pork or used in hot dogs.

Typical butcher charts do not account for the legs or head of the pig. A pig's legs can be used as ham hocks, while its feet can be pickled. Parts of the head can be ground or fried.

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