Open main menu

Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/708

This page has been validated.

under the name of "measly pork," has not of late years been found in this country. It was due to the presence of the parasite Cystersus cellulosæ, found in the form of a small cyst about the size of a pea, imbedded in the tissue. Thorough cooking also renders this parasite innocuous. Under the insanitary conditions which fattened pigs had been kept in the olden days for a much longer period than is now considered necessary to fit them for the butcher, tuberculosis was not infrequently developed, but even this dread disease has never been proved to have been communicated to human beings by eating the flesh of animals suffering from tuberculosis. The medical profession are still warmly discussing the question of the similarity of this disease as it exists in human beings and in our domesticated animals. The present enlightened system of housing farm animals is fast reducing the number of cases of tuberculosis amongst our live stock.

To Choose Pork.—In the good old times the quality of pork was most variable; the long so-called store period of the life of the pig, when it had to hunt for its living to such an extent that starvation diet was frequently its portion, to be followed by a period of stuffing on more or less rich food and without a possibility of exercise and a breath of sweet air; all these undesirable conditions injuriously affected the quality of the pork produced under such insanitary conditions. At the present time pig keepers are cognisant of the fact that pork made from young pigs which have been well fed from their birth realizes so much more on the market and pays them so much better, that a large proportion of the pigs kept in this country do not know what the old-fashioned store period in the life of a pig was like. There is little doubt that the manner in which pigs were kept in other days was the principal cause for the prejudice which exists against fresh pork as an article of diet. This prejudice is fast dying out now that sanitary arrangements are attended to, and the fatting pigs fed on common sense and humanitarian lines. This improvement is especially valuable to the lower classes, who find pork the most economical meat food, since it can be cooked in so many appetising ways, and every portion of the pig can be utilized for the food of man. It can also be produced at less cost than other meat, and consequently can be sold more cheaply. The percentage of loss in killing is only some 23 per cent. against nearly twice as much in the case of cattle. There is now far less necessity for care in the choice of the joint of pork, since well nigh the whole is of far better quality than a few years since. The fat of the best pork is white, the lean of a brownish hue, ingrained with fat; the rind should be thin and the bone fine but solid; these last are generally accepted as sure indications of good quality of meat.

Ham.—The sources of supply of the finest hams are now far more numerous than a few years since. There is also a great change in the size, form and degree of fatness of the ham now desired. In place of the 20 to 40 lb. hams, by no means uncommon in the past, the