Ever had the chance to enjoy a hearty Tirolean “Marend”? The most important part of the Marend and the host’s pride is always a delicious, local charcuterie specialty named ‘speck’. It is distinctively juniper-flavoured, cured and smoked bacon native to Tirol. To find out more about high-quality speck, I visited award-winning speck producers Hannes and Gertraud Danzl in Schwaz. Among others, they were awarded the Gold Medal at the Alpe Adria Meat Tasting Fair in 2016.
This is not your ordinary speck. There is a big difference between the speck sold at supermarkets and the one prepared with love and attention by Tirol farmers, such as Danzl Family does at Kohlerhof Farm. Farmer Hannes and his wife Gerti run a family owned and operated business and provide high quality, farm raised pork. What makes them unique is that the pigs are raised by them and all produce is sold fresh from the farm.
The pigs are roaming free on Kohlerhof Farm and are grazed on large paddocks. If hand fed, the food they are given has also been cropped from the farm. The distance between pasture, stable and feeding bowl couldn’t be any shorter. Moreover, the pigs are never forced fed to promote unhealthy growth. On this family farm, livestock are raised with greater care and personal attention than in an industrial facility. This results in highest quality and most desired pork.
As farmer Hannes Danzl is a certified butcher, pigs are slaughtered on the farm following strict regulations in line with the existing hygiene control systems. This also results in decreased stress of the animals and superior meat quality. To make speck, a leg of pork is deboned and divided into large sections called “baffe”. These primal cuts of pork are then hand-rubbed with salt and spices (spices differ from maker to maker, but generally include marjoram, caraway seeds, garlic and secret ratios of juniper berries and herbs). For about four weeks, the meat is allowed to cure and absorb the spices. After this, the smoking process begins. Speck is cold-smoked slowly and intermittently for a few hours a day for a period of roughly three weeks using beech woods at temperatures that never exceed 22°C.
This method blends the traditions of curing followed by smoking for additional taste and flavour. After this, the meat is air dried in cool, humid rooms for another four weeks. This 12-week production cycle on the farm results in a delicious tasting product that keeps picking up national and international awards along the way. Their high quality speck made from farm-raised pork is available at the Farm Store on Kohlerhof Farm and at the Farmer’s Market in Schwaz.
Although farmers Hannes and Gerti are Internet users, their high quality produce is not available online. They prefer to sell their superb pork products at their own delightful and well-stocked Farm Store on Kohlerhof Farm. In their opinion, the best way to understand how the pigs are raised is to visit the farm and see them in their natural environment. Gerti Danzl will provide customers with great tasting local food. Visit the farm store and taste the difference!
By the way, Tirolean speck does not only add life to any charcuterie and cheese plate—it is a delicious ingredient for mouth-watering Tirol staples like speck (or bacon) dumplings. Here’s my favourite recipe to cook at home: Austrian Bacon Dumplings.
For those who want to stop by and shop for the award winning speck themselves: The Farm Store is open Tuesday to Friday from 8:30am to 11:00am and from 3:00pm to 6:00pm (Ried 29, 6130 Schwaz). On Saturdays, Danzl’s pork products are available at the Farmer’s Market on Pfundplatz Square in the heart of Schwaz from 8:30am to 11:00am.