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By: Marcela Smolárová

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Hog killing in Liptovská Teplička is an age long tradition that takes place usually in winter before Christmas or early spring before Easter. Most of the families in Liptovská Teplička bread at least two pigs. This is due to the fact that until recently there were no fridges or freezers and it was very difficult to store the meat due to the heat and the flying insects.
Hog-killing usually takes place early Saturday morning with help of several family members. Some members of the family are able to kill the pig and process the meat by themselves. The ones that can’t do this call the butcher or someone more skilful from the family.

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The whole process starts with boiling water in a cauldron. When the hot water that is needed for the meat processing is boiling the hog killing may proceed. After the kill that is performed by a special gun the pig is let to bleed and the blood is captured to a bowl to be used later to make blood sausage. After the bleeding the pig is put into a wooden manger and boiling water is poured over it. With the help of special bells it is shaven of its hair and washed with more boiling water several times. Hardest part is cleaning the head and ears. 

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Then it is hanged by its hind legs and the belly is cut open. The intestines are carefully removed first so they won’t spoil the meat. The intestines are given to the housewife who takes them to the creek to be washed. Lungs, heart, kidneys, head and skin are put into the boiling water and are cooked and later on are used for blood sausage and head cheese. Now is the time to cut the pig in half on its back, that is done with axe. One half is left hanging and the other is processed on large table. First of all they cut of the front and hind leg. They have to be cleaned really well. Then they cut of the thigh that can be smoked or cut up into pieces. Now is time to slice pork chops, ribs, tenderloin etc.

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There is a lot of bacon that has some meat as well. This meat is carefully cut out to be used in sausages as is the remaining less valuable meat. Large pieces of bacon are smoked. Skin is removed from smaller pieces and they are cut up into small squares and they are melted for lard and cracklings.
During all this work beer and slivovitz is never missing. The whole process usually takes about three hours.
At the beginning of the processing the liver was given to the housewife as well and she cooked it with onions and lard and also prepared special sauerkraut with potatoes. Now it’s the time to eat and everyone eats from one pot in the middle of the table in the summer kitchen.

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After the lunch and drinking some slivovitz and beer the process continues with grinding the meat for sausages and adding several spices to the sausage mix such as salt, black pepper, marjoram, lots of garlic and several other secret spices to the family taste. The mixture is let to sit for a while. Then through a special instrument under pressure they fill thin intestines with it and make sausages. These are later on in the evening taken to the smoke house and are smoked for a week.

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After the sausages is a time to make the headcheese to which they add less valuable pieces of meat that was cooked in the cauldron. This meat is spiced up with several spices and garlic and also it can be placed in a stomach membrane or in plastic sacks. This mixture is then covered with the liquid from the cauldron. When the mixture is in the sacks or the stomach membrane, it is put back to the cauldron to cook for about ten minutes. After the cooking it is let off the waster and something heavy is put over it to make it solid. Then it is taken to the smoke house as well.
Now is the time to make the blood sausages. They can be made with or without blood. In Liptovská Teplička they make only blood sausages. After the killing of the pig the blood is caught into a bowl to which they add later on cooked barley, salt, garlic, black pepper and cooked and grinded guts. This mixture can be left in a pot and warmed up. Some people in Liptovská Teplička process this mixture same as sausages and fill the thin intestines and they aren’t smoked.
Some cuts of meat and bacon are salted after processing and placed into washed and cleaned wooden manger and are salted. They are let to tenderize for two weeks in the attic or in a very cold room. With the help of salt the meat lets out liquid and with this liquid it is sprinkled every other day. After two weeks it is smoked in the smoke house for a week.
When is everything finished there is a short tasting of all products and a toast. Every helper gets a present of products from the housewife that’s usually includes some sausage, meat, blood sausage and soup that was cooked by her whole day from unused pieces of meat. This sup is made with sauerkraut and barley and it is called GREZUPPA.

I am glad that I was able to participate at two hog killings in Liptovská Teplička and I would like to thank the Janík and Smolár families that mate this possible.



Published in the Slovak Heritage Live newsletter Volume 9, No.2, Summer 2001
Copyright © Vladimir Linder 2001
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced, republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic, without the express written permission of
Vladimir Linder. All rights reserved.