Prized Pork: Berkshire is Best
Much like wagyu or Kobe beef, Berkshire pork has a storied history and unique flavor profile that makes it a highly sought-after commodity for both restaurant chefs and home cooks. Moody’s Berkshire pork is all heritage breed Berkshire.
The Berkshire hog breed dates back to the 1600’s, rumored to have been first discovered by Sir Oliver Cromwell who prized Berkshire hogs for their superior meat quality. During this time, the Berkshire was described as a reddish or sandy colored pig. Approximately 320 years ago, East Asian black pigs were imported to England where they crossed with the Berkshire producing the black coat and 6 distinct spots that we see today. The British Royal family has been dedicated to breeding Berkshire hogs and are known to have herds at their Windsor Castle estate.
According to the best available records, the first Berkshires were brought to the United States in 1823. They were quickly absorbed into the general hog population because of the marked improvement they created when crossed with common stock.
In 1875, a group of United States Berkshire breeders and importers met in Springfield, Illinois, to establish a way of keeping the Berkshire breed pure. These agricultural leaders of the day felt the Berkshire should stay pure for the improvement of swine already present in the United States rather than letting it become only a portion of the “Common Hog” of the day. On February 25 of the same year, the American Berkshire Association was founded, becoming the first Swine Registry to be established in the world.
This society drew forth an enthusiastic response from those working with the breed both in this country and England. The first hog ever recorded was the boar, Ace of Spades, bred by Queen Victoria of England.
The American Berkshire Association maintains the records and registry of the most influential breed of swill in the history of the world. Berkshires have had a great influence upon the swine industry for the past 125 years, and the American Berkshire Association has made people aware of the importance of the purebred animals.
In 1876, in the first US Berkshire Publication, the following was printed, “The Berkshire meat is better marbled than that of any other breed of swine. That means it has a greater proportion of lean freely intermixed with small fine streaks of fat making the hams, loins and shoulders sweet, tender, and juicy. This renders the whole carcass not only the more palatable to persons in general, but are unquestionably the most healthy food. Considering these facts, the Berkshire, above all other, should be the favorite swine in the United States. We ought to take all possible pains in breeding Berkshires in such a manner as to enhance this superior quality, not only for the home use but also for the foreign market.”
BERKSHIRE PORK CHARACTERISTICS
Berkshire pig is a medium to large sized animal. Modern animals are almost entirely black in color, but the original stock was sandy-brown.
The modern animals have white points on the feet, nose and tail. They have relatively short legs, and have prick ears. And they have a relatively short snout with an upturned nose.
The Berkshire pigs are intelligent animals and they are well suited for the extensive pig farming. They are well known for their quality meat production.
The Berkshire pork is prized for juiciness, flavor and tenderness, is pink-hued and heavily marbled. The meat is rich in high fat content which makes it very suitable for long cooking and high-temperature cooking.
IT’S HARD TO FIND – WITH GOOD REASON
Without access to a specialty butcher like Moody’s, it’s unlikely that you’ll find much Berkshire pork on your grocery shelves. Why is this? Since Berkshire pork can only be labeled as such if farmers are connected to the American Berkshire Association, large-scale grocery chains don’t have the time to source these small connections.
If you’re used to buying ordinary grocery store pork, you’ll find chops and cuts with very little fat content, no marbling, and a vaguely pink exterior. The result is a mild meat. Berkshire pork is different because of its intense marbling, bright crimson color, and care that is exercised in the animal’s processing to reduce stress. The result is a highly flavorful cut of meat that is tender, juicy and tastes slightly smoky like cured bacon.
The value of Berkshire pork is in a variety of factors, like it being bred in much smaller quantities and with very strict quality standards. For a pig to be called “Berkshire,” it has to be bred according to the American Berkshire Association’s strict guidelines.
MOODY’S BERKSHIRE PORK
Moody’s Berkshire pork are characterized by:
- Single source pigs. 100% registered pure Berkshire herd for consistency.
- Custom formulated vegetarian diet.
- Segregated by size and raised in small groups to avoid stress.
- Hand-fed multiple times per day (this permits careful monitoring of feed intake).
- No antibiotics, no hormones, no medicated feed.