Skinning

19.&20.  David Krause, Roger VanMeter, and Levi Prieb 1972 bog butchering with the skinning method, and the use of hydraulic lifts.  Lehigh, Kansas

Skinning a hogRoger VanMeter skinning a hog

Up until the last thirty years many of these early ethnic groups and their descendants in Kansas used this scalding-scraping procedure.  They used it in order to obtain the rind for their cultural dishes, to avoid waste, and to obtain large amounts of lard.  However with the passing of time many have become more affluent and thus less worried about waste.  With new preservation methods, provided by new inventions, they no longer need large amounts of lard for the larding down preservation method.  For these reasons many that still butcher have recently changed to the quicker skinning method.  Walt Bartel said, “I rather skin a hog than scald it, because it is less work, but the skin is wasted, and of course there is no rind for head cheese.”  Edna Prieb wrote in a letter to her sister on December 17, 1961, “we helped a neighbor butcher a hog last Tuesday.  Yes, in that zero weather, but it wasn’t bad for us.  He had a man come and skin it.”  Over the years many descendants of these immigrants farmers thus have lost some of their thrifty self-sufficient character on this New World.
The skinning method to remove the hog’s hide was easier and quicker for the farmer, however it produced less lard and no rind for the immigrant’s traditional preservation methods and cultural dishes.  To skin a hog the farmer hoisted the hog up with any of the same hoisting equipment that was used to hoist up a scalding hog.  The hog was skinned with a curved six-inch skinning knife.  This knife allowed the skin to be removed easier and smoother than if a regular straight butcher knife was used.

21. 6 inch curved skinning knife of Levi Prieb that were used for butchering.

6 inch curved skinning knife
22. Singe trees of Adobe Museum, Hillsboro, Kansas.

Singe Trees from the Adobe Museum

Laverne Kopsa recalled that even if he skinned the hog he did not waste the hog’s Skin.  He cut the skin into little squares and used the lard that was left on the skin to grease skillets.  The skin was even used for shoe soles, bearings, and liners for wooden boxes.
Olive Huncovsky recalled an incident concerning the choice of skinning a hog.  It was the only time she can remember they ever skinned a hog.  It was once when time was of utmost necessity.  A good old Kansas tornado had stuck a neighbor’s barn and killed several hogs.  They had to butcher the hogs immediately.  Since they had no prior notice or ample time to heat the water for scalding, they resorted to skinning the hogs.  Of course they could not afford to waste the meat.  So even when disaster struck, these thrifty farmers thought of a way not to be wasteful.

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