The otherworldly Mangalica (or Mangalitsa) pig is a fascinating creature and a fantastic eat for those who only want the very best. Fatty and marbled, the meat has a brilliant hint of nuts. Truly the best pork in the world.
The Mangalica pig looks awkward and ancient at the same time, with its woolly coat. It never really adapted to living indoors and looks and behaves more like its wild boar ancestors than like the crossbred pigs they use in commercial farms. It is a charming pig with a friendly disposition.
Its unique qualities come at a price. Mangalica pigs are rare gems that grow incredibly slowly, and they are much less prolific than garden variety pigs. Rumour has it that their fat is incredibly healthy. It is different for sure.
The Berkshire pig is our all-time favorite. It is a perfect compromise between the Mangalica and crossbred pigs. Tastes great, marbles beautifully, with lower pH and short muscle fibers. While not a commercial breed at all, Berkshires are a little less rare and more prolific than Mangalicas. They grow a little faster and dress out quite a lot better than Mangalicas. They are only a little bit more expensive than crossbred pigs, but the taste is already so much better.
Crossbred pigs (Duroc x Landrace x Yorkshire) are bred to perform. And perform they do. They perform as well when raised outside under good circumstances. And they are ubiquitous as they are meant for big commercial farms. Raising them outside, without feeding them industrial by-products does help the quality along a little bit. The meat is lean and there is little marbling. But leanness has advantages too. Most people prefer their bacon a little meatier…
There are other heritage breeds, and we tried some – like Large Black, Large White, Hampshire, Duroc, and Tamworth – in the past. We learnt that we do not want to raise heritage pigs that do not improve meat quality. Unfortunately, tiny genetic pools, haphazard crossbreeding and – let us face it – amateurish farmers, do not do many favors to heritage pigs in general.
Of course, there are many heritage breeds that we have never tried – but like to try. If you are breeding purebred Hereford, Meishan, or Mulefoot pigs, let us know!
But, let us face it. All we can really think of while writing these lines, is the truly amazing and delicate taste of Mangalica pork.