BERKSHIRE PORK AND THE KUROBUTA DIFFERENCE
WHAT IS BERKSHIRE PORK?
Berkshire pork comes from a specialty breed of pigs from Berkshire county, England. It is known for its higher level of fat marbling which lends to a tender and more juicy flavor than regular pork. Berkshire pork is often referred to as kurobuta or “black hog” in Japanese, a name given to the pigs when they were first imported to Japan.
Kurobuta pork is the opposite of factory-farmed, commodified pork. Like American Wagyu cattle, Berkshire hogs are genetically predisposed to producing beautifully marbled meat. Marbling means flavor, and Kurobuta pork delivers a robust and rich sensation in every bite. You’ll notice Kurobuta pork has a deeper reddish hue than grocery store pork. That’s a reflection of its naturally higher pH, a product of exceptional marbling and an indicator of deeper flavor. Add to those qualities a closely monitored diet and humane conditions, and you’ve got pork cuts that deliver an unsurpassed dining experience.
BERKSHIRE PIG ORIGINS
Berkshire hogs have been bred and raised in Berkshire county, England for over 400 years. With their distinctive black color and richly hued flesh, Berkshire boars have long been prized as a heritage breed — which means they are raised for exceptional flavor and tenderness, not speed or disease resistance like most commodified animals. Think of them in the same arena as an heirloom tomato.
Berkshire pigs were some of the first imports Japan allowed at the end of its isolationist period in the 1800s. Renamed Kurobuta, which literally translates as “black hog”, their purebred progeny are still raised on the Japanese island of Kyushu, where their full flavor and remarkable juiciness gained acclaim among upscale diners throughout the 20th century.
Sustaining a Heritage of Pure Quality
By the 1950s, Berkshire hogs had made their way to farms in the United States. These black beauties raked in championships and set a high standard for the American palate. In the post-World War II boom of commercial meat production, their popularity waned. Thankfully, a handful of small family farms persevered in cultivating this historic breed across the Midwest, particularly in Iowa.
Much like the visionary founder of Snake River Farms, these hardworking families continue to champion sustainable farming practices and passionately safeguard the purebred genetics and superior quality of Kurobuta pork raised right here in America’s heartland.
BERKSHIRE PIG CHARACTERISTICS
Berkshire boars are medium sized animals that mature to an average weight of around 600 lbs. They are mostly black in color, though many have splashes of white on their faces and snout, as well as white colored legs and tips of their tail. The ears of a berkshire boar tend to point forward.
Berkshire hogs tend to grow quickly and tend to have a calm temperment, especially when raised under the great care and perfected practices at Snake River Farms.
WHERE TO BUY KUROBUTA HAM
Snake River Farms offers a full line of Kurobuta hams that arrive at your door fully cooked and frozen for safe transport. Choose a ham sized to accommodate the number of people you’re serving, with eight to 12 ounces as the portion size. The choice of bone-in vs boneless depends on your priorities:
- Flavorful Tradition: If the best possible flavor is your top concern, go for the traditional look of our half or whole bone-in hams. Not only does the meat closest to the bone achieve an incredibly juicy and tender finish, but the leftover bone makes a savory foundation for soups and stocks.
- Convenient Serving: Opt for an SRF boneless ham if you value convenience at the table. These are comprised of the same high-quality Kurobuta pork and cured to the same level of perfection as bone-in hams, but they’re easier to slice and plate.
Whichever type of SRF ham you choose, be sure to allow several days to safely thaw it before heating it thoroughly in your oven or on the grill. Get amazing flavor just as it is or change it up with our glaze recipe ideas.