The Berkshire Breed
At the county seat of Berks in England in the 17th-centuy, Oliver Cromwell’s army made their winter quarters and discovered a swine larger than any other. After the war, soldiers went home and told of the newfound swine with superior bacon. The nobility soon found favor with the breed and a large herd of Berkshire could be found at the grounds of Windsor Castle1. Given to the Japanese in the 19th-century, the breed was called “Kurobuta” or “black hog” and has since rivaled the status of Kobe Beef. The first reported Berkshire in the United States occurred in 1823. Heritage pork breeds, including Berkshire Pork, have rekindled an artisanal desire within consumers for their supreme quality and taste and continue to be raised throughout the world2.
History of Red Top Farms
In 1944 entrepreneur Edward Haas purchased a run-down farm in Racine County, WI and promptly enlisted his seven children to white wash the buildings and foundations. Mr. Haas and his children all had bright red hair, thus through a bit of whimsy, he had all the buildings roofed in bright red shingles; thus naming the farm Red Top Farms.
Concurrent to raising beef, pork, chicken and grain on the farm, Edward, or “Red” as he was called, also owned and operated two aluminum foundries, a cast iron foundry and a screw machine shop. Drawing from his experience in the foundry business as well as his farming experience, he produced the “Haas Atomic Tractor” from 1947-1951.
Today the white buildings and red shingles of Red Top Farms® are still standing alongside three generations of the Haas family as they continue to follow his dream and entrepreneurial spirit and provide you with the very best meat possible.
Red Top Farms® is all-natural Berkshire pork raised humanely on family farms. The animals are never ever given antibiotics, hormones, growth promotants, or animal by-products. Our pork is always vegetarian fed and contains no artificial ingredients. With higher levels of pH and Minolta than commodity product, our ratings demonstrate the upmost quality. The unsurpassed traits of Berkshire paired with our expert care and humane craft processing have exceeded even our own expectations and confirmed what our global customers already knew.
With the growing appreciation in America of artisan and authentic traditional foods, Red Top Farms® has spent the last several years refining breeding and production methods similar in stature to Wagyu/Kobe Beef. It is raised and prepared as a delicacy. Berkshire pork possesses considerably more marbling than conventional pork and a richer, deeper color, which consistently produces meat with unparalleled tenderness, moisture, and flavor.
The producers that comprise Red Top Farms® operate small family owned farms, many for generations. All producers are third party audited by two organizations for humane handling, all claims, and operating procedures. By managing our farms, we have been able to selectively develop and refine our breeding stock to maximize flavor and overall quality. Ownership of all boars and refined program standards provides greater program consistency.
To continue our expectations of quality, we sought out a processing partner that embraces the same ideals we hold. Our processor is a small family owned facility that is third party audited for humane treatment, food safety, in addition to accurate and precise processing and packing. The facilities state-of-the-art equipment and procedures ensure a safer, calmer, and more humane environment. Our hogs are also raised a short distance away to minimize transport stress. Equally important to ensuring the highest quality are the traditional craft detail, small batch processing, and expert hand cutting of portions our plant provides. No artificial ingredients, coloring, preservatives are used, and product is never pumped or injected. All products are minimally processed. Together with our processor, we offer a full line of fresh pork from primals to individual cuts.
Value Added Products
For bacon, bratwursts, and sausages, we turned to Usinger’s, Wisconsin’s finest since 1880. The “old fashioned way” is taken literally at Usinger’s. Their two-story smokehouse operates solely with an open flame, providing a truer smokier flavor. Bacon is smoked up to 14 hours and all products have no added nitrates or nitrites. Our Berkshire pork paired with Usinger’s methods lead to an ultra-premium retail ready product.
Handling, Cooking, and Care
- Marbling is a desirable attribute to look for when selecting a piece of meat. Marbling is the intercellular fat, or the white streaks found in meat. Berkshire is known for its superior marbling, which leads to a more tender and tasteful eating experience. Fine marbling is better than thick or coarse marbling.
- pH Level and Color
- pH Level is an important indicator of quality in pork. pH level is correlated with acidity. The higher the pH level, the less acidity found in the meat and the higher the quality due to the increase in flavor and tenderness. Berkshire genetics contribute to our overall higher levels of pH in addition to our humane handling efforts as stress levels at the time of harvesting affect pH levels. Higher pH levels also tend deepen the color in pork. Selecting pork that dark pink to red in color is the best as pale or white pork tends to be lower quality and less flavorful.
Use these tips if you are planning on using frozen meat:
Never wash raw meat, as it can help bacteria spread by splashing on countertops and the sink. Use one cutting board for meat, and another for the fresh produce you will be using with the meal; and always have separate surfaces (plate etc.) for raw and the cooked product. Wash hands before and after handling raw meat.
Due to the flavorful and tender nature of our Red Top Farms® Berkshire Pork, we enjoy a simple sprinkling of salt and pepper before placing on the grill. Check out our social media (@PremierProteins) to find other rubs and marinades if preferred.
Never brown or partially cook pork without the intention of fully cooking. Bacteria that may be present would not be fully eradicated. Measuring temperature is the best indication of doneness. Insert a food thermometer into the thickest section of the meat. Do not allow the thermometer to touch to touch bone or fat. All raw pork chops, roasts, and other non-ground products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F. Ground mixtures, such as our Berkshire Burgers, should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F. Pink coloration remaining after reaching the safe temperatures throughout is safe. Always let meat rest before serving and remember to thoroughly clean thermometers after each use.
Value-added products may already be cooked for your ease. Please read the label for additional information. These products need to be heated thoroughly and then enjoyed.
After enjoying Red Top Farms® Berkshire Pork, refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of cooking at a minimum of 40°F. If the temperature is above 90°F, food should not be out for more than an hour. Use shallow covered containers or wrap in airtight packaging. Plan on eating the leftovers within 3 to 4 days. Red Top Farms® Berkshire Pork ® can be eaten again either cold or reheated3.