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‘The Family Pig’ Complete Harvest Course, 3 Days; Vashon Island, WA


The Family Pig is an earnest and winsome course in domestic pig raising, harvesting and eating.  Inspired by the pig, we go deep and wide in the preservation of pork, the salting of bacon, the harvesting of innards, the carving of flesh and the unreproved indulgence in fat and salt.  You take with you not only a package of educational material and sausage of your own making, but the working knowledge of harvesting two pigs from the field to the two-year-old prosciutto hanging in your kitchen.



Product Description

Using antique cutlery and your hands, each 3-day event transforms two pigs of heritage breed into fresh, cured and cooked pork.


Current sessions available:

-August 24th-26th, here at Meatsmith Headquarters on the southend of Vashon Island.

October 19th-21st, November 2nd-4th & 9th-1th, both beginning with slaughter days at Burton Hill Farm, and ending with days 2 & 3 here at our butcher shop.

The Curriculum

Each day, we start at 9:00am and finish when the larder is full.  Classes usually continue well into the afternoon or early-evening.  In any case, we work at your pace. Bring notepads and filming devices.

Slaughter on Thursday: Always slaughtering at the pig’s home turf, we’ll begin our harvest in Maple Valley, a ferry ride and scenic drive away from Vashon.  Using your hands, we will impart traditional slaughter, scalding, scraping and eviscerating methods.  All too often, farmers labor to produce beautiful pigs only to have them skinned on the day of slaughter.  This sacrifices all the back fat, the full head, the crackling on your roasts and the bacteria essential to traditional curing.  In resolute opposition to this waste, we will scald and scrape with efficiency and conviction.

Butchery/Curing on Friday: Back at our butcher shop, we’ll be working with four sides of pork.  We will explore the purity of traditional butchery and curing in their simplicity.  We work with your hands, cleavers, sharp knives and antique wood chopping blocks.  While the art of butchery is infinite, you will come away with the ability to break down any four-legged livestock carcass.  Because butchery serves cookery, you will also find that no cut of meat is out of  your culinary reach.  Working with the pig’s physiology will equip you to cook it perfectly.  The secrets are sharp knives and artful quartering.  We’ll also start the essential triumvirate of porcine cures: bacon, proscuitto and guanciale.  Salt and care, being our primary ingredients, supplant slavish reliance on synthetic nitrates and nitrites.

Sausage/Charcuterie on Saturday: We’ll reserve some of the pork shoulder from butchery day for you to mix and hand stuff into links.  As you will see, salt and fat are the most important ingredients to any sausage, and this pork, being from pigs husbanded in a perfect small homestead/dairy condition,  will have the quality and quantity of fat sure to supply.  We’ll refresh our cures from the previous day to continue our curing education, including a discussion on the fermentation of sausages into salami.  Our final labors will be to put the back-fat to its rightful use in liver pâté terrines, crepinettes and blood sausage.  Take home 3 pounds of the sausage you make.

Parting Gifts

Now included with these 3-day events:

These serve as ready refreshers of what you learn with us.  They are unparalleled in American butchery educational materials because they return to the radical orthodoxy of the peasant kitchen.

The Menu

Each day, we break bread together and commemorate our work with an afternoon meal.  Our ingredients come from the pig and from our garden.  Locally roasted coffee and Jersey cream are provided each day.

On Slaughter Day, the pig gives us her offal at its peak of freshness and flavor.  So we enjoy what is historically known as pig cheer, a feast of innards in a simple sauce with leavened bread, greens and wine.

On Butchery Day, a hearty steak-and-kidney pie is our meal, baked in the ineffable crunchiness of a leaf lard crust.  Wine will be served too.

On Charcuterie Day, we do our best to polish off the kitchen’s gallimaufry of boudin noir, pâté, sausages and crepinettes, aided by the welcome freshness of of a quickly fermented kale salad, tangy cheese and, of course, wine.

Each meal will be served with the sauce of labor.

If you want travel and accommodations advice please see our out-of-towners page.  

We look forward to you joining us in our shop.

Please ensure you read our “Student Signup Information and Policies” document.  Due to quick sign-ups, traveling students and small class sizes we maintain a strict refund policy.


Most recent testimonial, Fall 2016: “The utility of this information will have immediate and long-term use.  As a home chef, I expect to use it regularly for my domestic culinary investigations and pleasure.  The long term impact of the class will continue to reveal itself with age.  So much of the material (and the experience) is detailed, inter-disciplinary, bloody, emotional and tasty!  It is one of the those experiences that will always be a culinary, social, emotional reference point to tie to other experiences.  This is one of the principal values of the class in my mind.” -John, Alaska

“I’ve flown halfway across the country to attend a class of yours and watched your videos numerous times. The desire was already there for me to take on the life of sustainability, self-reliance, and kitchen economy. You all just provided the direction and spark… I’m all in because of you folks!” -Jay, Arizona

I’ve participated in two hog processing classes. The classes and videos gave me the courage to raise my own hogs. We partnered with the Meatsmiths to host a class and harvest two of the 5 hogs. With the help of friends we processed three hogs on our own, cured three prosciutto, smoked and cured our own bacon, and made head cheese. In all that, the best part of all the learning is the growth of my family and friends. I can’t tell you how many wonderful people we call friends because of the porcine adventure.” -Jon; Shelton, WA

“You guys have a played a major role in our farm/homestead development of which pigs are the driving factor. Definitely have empowered me and my family. we have done some butchery since watching your videos. I hope to reference you for future marketing development for our farm. And one day get you to do a workshop (fingers crossed) I’m in west Tennessee in case you needed a gage of how far your outreach is. Thanks a million.” –Justin, Tennessee

This 3-day course is unparalleled in breadth and depth of porcine harvesting.  Anyone who wants to seriously learn the art of pork provender for the farm, homestead or home kitchen will want to take this course.  In the industry, we offer the fullest range of experience.  We hope you will consider how this course will impact the life of you and your family and come learn with us.

A visual  idea of what to expect:

Additional Information

Which Day?

Aug. 24th-26th, Oct. 19th-21st, Nov. 2nd-4th, Nov. 9th-11th


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