What breed of pig is used to make pork scratchings?
or if you want to be pedantic.
Which breeds of pig are used to make pork scratchings?
Well, this is a sticky subject! We are going to take a little look at the various breed(s) of pig used to make pork scratchings, but we will also look into ‘Where’ the pork rinds are sourced from, because the two things are linked together.
The skin of a dead pig – A visual feast!
Pork scratchings are not a glamourous catwalk type of food, are they? By this, I mean that it really doesn’t matter what they look like.
Some people would say that as long as there are no hairs then they are fine to eat. But really, hairs are nothing to be concerned about, I mean, it’s part of our website name! We don’t mind a few hairs. But saying that, recently I found a pork scratching that was so hairy that I couldn’t eat it! See the picture. I think the reason why I couldn’t eat it was the blackness and the thickness of the trimmed hairs. So thick, so short, so black, so disgusting!
The infamous pig nipple!
A greater number of people may say that as long as doesn’t look like there is a nipple or a recognisable part of the animal, then they also fine to eat. But I think the sight of a nipple in your bag can tip even the hardest (drunkest) scratching eaters over the disgust threshold.
Some foods are bought because of their looks. Just look in the supermarket at the perfect fruits and vegetables that are bought with the eye and not the nose (but that’s a different argument). My point is that no one is looking at pork rind for its aesthetic appeal. Unless you are putting them on your Christmas tree! All that really matters is the quality of the skin & fat because these are the things are going to make the best scratchings.
Where in the world?
Invariably the rind used for your delicious pork scratchings/pork rinds/chicharrones comes from the cheapest available source. Why wouldn’t it? You would never know where in the world the rind comes from because very few people mention it. Where it comes from is either the nearest place to the producer or probably China (because we get everything from China these days).
Seeing as pork rind can be seen by some as a by-product of the pork market, and pork scratchings are seen as junk food, then you can see why the ‘where it comes from’ doesn’t really matter! But this is not always the case.
In America, their pork rinds are made from American rinds. The demand for pork rinds is easily covered by the available supply. I would argue that this is the case in most countries where they have a reasonably sized pork industry and a demand for the rind that can be adequately matched by the supply.
The United States mainly uses the following 4 breeds to produce their meat, In order, most common first: Yorkshire, Duroc, Hampshire, Landrace. So American pork rinds are made from one of these varieties.
Danish Bacon is a byword for bacon in the UK. It’s everywhere. The Danes produce a hell of a lot of pork. They mainly use the following 3 breeds to produce their meat, Landrace, Yorkshire and Duroc.
If you live in the UK, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Denmark is the largest producer of pork in the whole of Europe, but you’d be wrong. Germany produces the most pork in Europe. They mainly use the following 3 breeds, The German Landrace, Duro and Pietrain.
So, you can expect that the pork rind used for scratchings should come from the country that needs the rinds, correct? But not in the UK. You may think that in the UK, Pork scratchings are produced from British rinds. This may well be true smaller niche producers or local butchers, but the relatively high British demand for pork rind cannot be covered in quantity or quality from the British herd.
Pork Scratchings are usually made from the shank of the pig. The shank is the back leg of the pig. The reason that the shank is used is that the quality of the skin is superior to other parts. Also, the thickness of shank fat is just right, not too thick, not too thin. Both of these qualities are essential for perfect pork scratchings.
So, based upon the fact that only a small part of the pig is used, and there is a limited supply available from the UK, we can see why the larger producer will look further afield for their ingredients.
So most UK pork scratchings are sourced from Danish or German rind. This means that they are probably made from Landrace, Yorkshire, Duroc or Pietrain breeds.
Things can change as your brand grows
When Tom Parker Bowles started Mr Trotter’s in 2011, he said that he had been “incensed” to discover that most pork scratchings sold in pubs came from Danish pigs. So he decided to create a snack made using the rinds of British bred pigs alone.
A few years later and Karyn Walker, director of Mr Trotter’s said that because “the supply has deteriorated and the demand for our product increased”, and they now buy rind from the global meat processing company Danish Crown, which sources its off-cuts from German and Dutch sellers.
This was such a big deal to founders Tom Parker Bowls and Matthew Fort, that they both stepped down from the board of Mr Trotters! Read More here.
Are you looking for pork scratchings made from British rind from British pigs?
The rule would seem to be that if the producer doesn’t mention where the rind comes from, then it’s probably NOT British pork rind used in their scratchings.
I did a Google search for British Pork Scratchings and the results were not what I was looking for! It would seem that British pork scratchings are going to take a little bit more searching for.
We have only found ONE variety that DOES USE British pork rind:
Is Ireland is near enough?
I know it’s over the sea and technically a different country, but still local enough, Scratch My Pork use Irish Pork Rind.
In my opinion, if you ‘promote’ the word ‘British’ in your product, then most of it should come from and be made in Britain. Promote is the salient point here. I’m not overly fussed if you get your salt from Outer Mongolia. Pork scratchings have very few ingredients, one of them is the main ingredient, pork rind. If you say ‘British’ then I suggest that the rind should be British and you should make them in Britain.
I know this is a tricky subject. I bet there are loads of British products that source their materials from another country, and we could get into what percentage of a product constitutes a British product. I’m totally out of my depth here, I don’t know the rules.
Many of the overseas pig breeds were originally from Britain, does that make the rind British?
If the scratchings are cooked in Britain, does that make the scratchings British?
I know cricket is British. Some things are just not Cricket if you see my point.
A Video of Pork Scratchings being made at the G. Simmons Factory
List of Pig Breeds: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pig_breeds
Major UK Swine Breeds: https://www.pork.org/facts/pig-farming/major-swine-breeds/
Native British Pig Breeds: https://www.countryfile.com/wildlife/mammals/native-british-pig-breeds-and-how-to-recognise-them/
British Pedigree Pig Breeds: http://www.britishpigs.org.uk/breedlist.htm
Rare breed British pigs in danger of dying out: https://www.fwi.co.uk/livestock/rare-breed-british-pigs-danger-dying
What breed of pig is used to make pork scratchings?
Most UK pork scratchings are sourced from Danish or German rind. This means that they are probably made from Landrace, Yorkshire, Duroc or Pietrain breeds.