Pork is eaten both as a cooked fresh meat (e.g. pork chops) or as a cured meat. Cured or processed meat products include ham, salami, gammon and bacon. The carcass may be used in many different ways for fresh meat cuts, with the popularity of certain cuts and certain carcass proportions depending on local preference.
Most of the carcass (colloquially "everything but the squeal") can be used to produce fresh meat. In the case of a suckling pig (piglet) the whole body can be spit roasted or oven roasted.
Terminology for different cuts of pork varies by country. The American naming system is:
- Head - Boiled to make brawn, stocks and soups.
- Spare Rib Roast - Either boned out and rolled up as a roasting joint, or cured as bacon".
- Hand - Either cured on the bone to make a ham, or used in sausages.
- Loin - This can be cured to give bacon or divided up into roasting joints and pork chops.
- Belly - Belly pork is used for steaks or diced as a frying meat. Belly pork may be rolled for roasting or cut for streaky bacon.
- Legs/Hams - Although any cut of pork can be cured, only the back leg is entitled to be called a ham.
- Trotters - Both the front and hind trotters can be cooked and eaten or preserved by pickling.
- Pork ribs - Called spare ribs, these are taken from the pig's ribcage and include the surrounding meat.
Pork is particularly common as an ingredient in sausages. Ham, bacon and gammon are made by curing the meat with salt. Smoking the meat in a slow oven is another method of preservation. Ham and bacon are popular foods in the western world although non-western cultures also use preserved pork products. Salted pork or red roasted pork is used in Chinese cuisine.
Additionally, parts of the pig such as the knuckle and feet can be pickled and eaten. The skin and fat is often crisped up in an oven and eaten with a pork roast as "crackling" or as a savoury snack (pork scratchings). Black Pudding which is made from the blood, can also be made thus utilising almost all of the animal.
The canned meat, Spam, is made of pork.
- Leviticus 11.4: And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven-footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
In Government, the term "pork" or "pork barrel" spending is used to refer to often unnecessary spending on a particular politician's pet projects, usually in his home district in order to curry votes. This practice is widely criticized by many people.