Farm Blog

Place Order
Pigs head: a healthy, traditional food

Posted by: Trevor

January 9, 2012

One of the things about pigs is that almost every part of the animal is edible. But more importantly, certain parts are very nutrient-dense. Such is the pig's head --- an incredible source of naturally-occurring gelatin and various other nutrients.

Although our great-grandparents ate this sort of food regularly, it's a bit unusual nowadays. Too bad, because modern diets that focus on muscle-meats only, but shun the organ meats and fat, are not only nutrient-deficient but also missing out on some of life's common pleasantries.

The gelatin from a pig's head is very high in the amino acid glycine, which scientists say is very useful for our bodies. They say that glycine can convert toxic substances in our bodies into harmless forms which are then excreted. They also say that it may promote better sleep, help with attention and memory, and boost our immune systems. They say that gelatin, in general, promotes joint health.

We can't prove any of those things, but we do know that most cultures around the world have historically eaten pig's head, making it into a dish that we know as "headcheese". From China to Korea to Vietnam to Russia to Poland to Italy to France to England to... The list covers dozens of countries.

The dish itself goes by different names --- sulze, presskopf, salceson, pyeonyuk, giothu, brawn --- but in the end, it's still pig's head.

This traditional food, eaten by the majority of the world's nations for hundreds of years, is now largely abandoned, at least in North America. It's time for a headcheese revival.

But not just any pig's head will do. No, we need an organic pig's head, from a healthy outdoor pig. Example here.

A pig's head may not be pretty to look at, but it has its own special charm, as the following picture demonstrates.


This is the head from one of our healthy, organic, outdoor pigs. He lived a happy life.

When we slaughter our pigs and have them cut & wrapped, we usually make sure the heads are cut in half (lengthwise).

Still, the head is rather large, so to cook it you will need a large pot. We prefer a slow-cooker. Even so, we had to cut the head up to make it fit.


Placing the head in a slow-cooker is an easy way to prepare it.

At this point, we added water until it covered the pig's head. Then we added a few ingredients of our own choosing --- for us, we added garlic cloves, carrots, celery, and leeks. And bay leaves.

Some people add all kinds of different spices or vegetables. Remember, you are not just cooking the pig's head but also making a broth which you will use later in the process, so adding the spices and vegetables is something you'll probably want to do.


Adding some vegetables and herbs such as garlic and bay leaf will improve the flavor.

Now we turn the slow-cooker on to around 200 degrees and just leave it for a few hours. Stir the mixture from time to time. Within 3 to 6 hours the meat will be thoroughly cooked and fall off the bone. At that point, turn off the slow-cooker and allow things to cool down enough so you can remove the meat from the mixture (making sure to remove any bits of meat that are still clinging to the bone).

Let the meat cool on a cutting board, and then cut up into small bits (don't worry if you've got some vegetable bits mixed in with the meat, that's fine).

Meanwhile, as you're cutting the meat up, turn the slow-cooker back on and continue to cook the bones and the broth --- the longer you do this, the more gelatin will be released from the bone. At least another 4 hours, although going longer is fine, just don't let the broth evaporate too much, since you'll need it later.

By the way, to increase the gelatin content of the recipe, some people add pig's feet --- they are loaded with gelatin. We didn't do that here, but many people do.

Now, place the meat you've diced into a meatloaf-style dish, like this.


Now it's time to place the meat once it's diced into a meatloaf-style dish.

Meanwhile, the bones and broth will keep going for a few hours.

Finally, turn off the slow-cooker, and strain the broth out and pour it into a measuring cup. Pour the broth over the meat until it barely covers the whole lot. Place in the refrigerator for several hours, and it should set, as the gelatin congeals (if it doesn't set well, it means there wasn't enough gelatin released from the bones --- one reason that some people add pig's feet).


The headcheese is now ready. We could've had more gelatin if we'd added pig's feet.

Now it's ready. Ours is rather bland, tasting a bit like cold bits of pulled-pork in a jelly. Some would serve it alone, on toast, or on crackers (as we did). However, for those of you with a more culinary bent, you may want to try a stronger mix of herbs to give a stronger flavor (there are more recipes for headcheese than I had imagined).

If any of you would like to try making this dish, you can order a delicious healthy pig's head here.


Other Farm Blog Posts

September 11, 2017Better Than Garlic Butter, Whipped Lard Is So Good
March 17, 2016Chicken Bone Broth - A Healthy Start to Your Day
March 7, 2016Making Ultra-Nutritious Beef Back Ribs
February 25, 2016How To Make Super Healthy Pork Rinds
February 16, 2016A Delicious And Easy Way To Boost Your CoQ10 Intake
February 9, 2016How To Get Your Daily Dose Of Vitamin D From Pork
August 28, 2015Air-Chilled Chicken: 4 Reasons It's Better
March 19, 2015This Orphan Lamb Is Too Cute!
March 12, 2015These Fascinating Meat-Sheep Are New Additions To Our Farm
September 9, 2014These Pigs Are Having A Picnic In The Forest, Watch Them Having Fun
July 11, 2014Why Happy Cows Love Rotational Grazing... Watch As They Get Moved
June 18, 2014Watch As These Happy Chickens Enjoy Life, On The Grass And In The Sun
June 15, 2014She Went Vegan To Cure Her IBS
June 4, 2014Just Born: New Piglets, And They're Absolutely Adorable
May 20, 2014Alpaca's Getting Haircuts, Just In Time For Summer
May 11, 2014Baby Calves Galore, Momma Cow Has Twins
May 1, 2014Pigs On Spring Pasture At Sumas Mountain Farms
April 24, 2014Could West Coast Maple Syrup Be A Nutrient-Dense Superfood?
April 23, 2014How To Make Your Own West Coast Maple Syrup
April 18, 2014Watch Out For Local Suppliers Selling Fake Organic Food
April 16, 2014How to enjoy the benefits of wild Oregon grapes and thimbleberries
April 11, 2014A Traditional Festive Roasted Ham, With The Bone-In
April 2, 2014The astonishing super-nutrition of red marrow beef bones
December 10, 2013A Christmas Pig's Head Feast
November 20, 2013Buying your chicken in the US? It could be imported from China
November 14, 2013Rethinking seafood: 4 alarming reasons why it may be unhealthy
October 15, 2013Thanksgiving at Sumas Mountain Farms
September 17, 2013Lard: the momentum just keeps growing
August 21, 2013Another big health reason to buy organic, grass-only beef
July 25, 2013How to avoid dangerous fluoride levels in non-organic food
July 18, 2013Why grass-only beef has yellow fat, and why its better
July 9, 2013Shill scientists still bashing organic
May 6, 2013Organic mixed farms vs. conventional monocultures
April 19, 2013Why buying locally produced food isn't enough
April 1, 2013More reasons to love, experience lard
March 25, 2013Dandelion chickens on spring pasture
March 19, 2013Bees and bugs: pollinators in action on our farm
October 30, 2012Small-scale family farms under attack by local governments
October 10, 2012CKNW news "The Bill Good Show" interviews Sumas Mountain Farms
October 8, 2012CBC television news visits Sumas Mountain Farms
October 3, 2012Why organic, local, small scale agriculture is healthier & safer
August 8, 2012Reflections on Lard and vitamins A, D, E & K
June 27, 20126 reasons why pastured pigs are healthier and happier
June 25, 2012The best meatballs I've ever had
June 20, 2012Why organic farms are the best way to increase "green space"
June 18, 2012This tastes so good: Bacon-stuffed Pork Chops
June 11, 2012Cows on spring pasture
June 4, 2012Making parks more useful --- food security 101
May 29, 2012Reconstructing local food economies
May 22, 2012Why our eggs are totally soy-free
April 30, 2012A cow's life at Sumas Mountain Farms
April 24, 2012New Rideshare service allows customers to "carpool" their orders
April 21, 2012Now in stock: certified organic grass-only beef
April 18, 2012Reprieve: no GMO pigs in the food supply... for now
April 12, 2012Is food really too cheap?
March 21, 2012Easter hams are now in stock; more beef in 4 weeks
March 12, 2012Pork tenderloin is now back in stock: soy-free, certified organic, pastured, heritage breed
March 5, 2012Save the bees: What were doing this summer
February 27, 2012Producing and preparing your own food
February 20, 2012Bee wars: the next frontier in global food dominance
February 13, 2012False organic claims: How some local food-suppliers are misleading consumers...
February 6, 2012The best way to avoid eating Roundup
January 30, 2012Tapping big-leaf maple trees for sap
January 23, 2012Snowing on the farm
January 16, 2012What buying local food in the Lower Mainland actually looks like
January 2, 2012Why local, organic food is important to our family
December 26, 2011Lard, Raw Milk, and Organ Meat: a formula for optimal health?
December 19, 2011Livin' Lardge: rendering pork lard, for health
December 9, 2011Organic pastured pork is now in-stock... and it's soy-free
December 6, 2011Maple Sap as an alternative to bottled water
December 1, 2011Soil: the wealth of nations