The Stripling’s Story

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The Stripling’s story begins over 50 years ago. My uncle, James Stripling, owned a small grocery and mercantile store where my uncle worked. His passion for fresh pork and pork products led to the development of the celebrated Stripling’s Sausage Recipe we still use today. He knew the key to a quality product – a fresh country sausage crafted from a whole, hot hog. He opened his own store in 1964 which quickly became dubbed by locals as “The Sausage Kitchen.” Located on the family farm, it was simply a butcher shop where he retailed his sausage and fresh cuts of pork. But as demand grew, so did his business and beef cuts were added to the list of retailed products.

In 1978 we had a decision to make – carry on the Stripling sausage-making tradition or continue farming the family land. My father, Jack Hardin, and I rolled the dice and decided to buy “The Sausage Kitchen.” We had very little knowledge, little cash and a lot of farming debt. But equipped with our uncle’s time-tested seasoning recipe we decided to continue the sausage-making tradition. In hindsight we realize we made the correct decision as our sausage grows in popularity each day. Now producing over 300,000 pounds of Stripling’s Sausage a year, our little country store has grown.

In 1991, we moved the flagship store to a location near Lake Blackshear on Georgia Highway 300 S in Cordele, Georgia. It was at this point that we became a full line grocery store, retailing specialty items like jams, jellies, salad dressings, sauces and more while continuing to keep Stripling’s Sausage as the backbone of operations.

After 30 years and much success with our original sausage recipe, we decided to introduce a new product. In 1995, we sold our first batch of “Stripling’s Beef Jerky.” It’s a product that we believe truly sets us apart from our competitors. It took us many sample batches to get it right, but we think we found a good thing. We have been retailing our mouth-watering, peppery jerky for over 20 years and it has become just as popular as Stripling’s Sausage.

The Stripling family tradition has continued to grow with the addition of two more locations. The first was opened in 1996 and is located on the other side of Lake Blackshear on Georgia Highway 280 W across from Georgia Veteran’s State Park in Cordele, Georgia. The third location opened in 2005 in Moultrie, Georgia. This location also houses a USDA inspected manufacturing facility that houses our sausage and beef jerky production as well as our mail order business. During the time we opened our Moultrie location, my daughter, Ashley Hardin Goss and her husband, Clint Goss came on board, making the third generation to operate the family business.

2006 brought the opening of our 15,000 square foot flagship store on Highway 300 in Cordele, Georgia. With this addition, our youngest daughter Lindsay (Hardin) Land joined the reins; further strengthening our commitment to remain family-owned and operated for generations to come.

Finally, in 2013 we opened our first Stripling’s franchise with franchisee Jimmy Camp. Located in Bogart, Georgia on Monroe Highway, this location is an exact footprint of our flagship store. Camp owns and operates our Bogart store with his two children, staying true to Stripling’s entrepreneurial values.
Through all the growth and changes one thing has remained constant; our commitment to crafting products the right way, carefully and from the original family recipe. If you are ever in our area it’s worth a trip to see us. Just remember “You Never Sausage A Place!”
– Ricky Hardin

Boston Butt
Don’t let the name fool you! While the beloved Boston “Butt” might sound like it comes from the rear-end, this cut actually comes from the upper front shoulder of the pig. Versatile and packed with flavor, Boston Butt is often the most forgiving cut to cook. The impressive marbling of fat generates succulent flavor when smoked, slow-roasted, braised, or even grilled. Affordable for family feasts, Boston Butt is served up in familiar favorites such as pulled pork barbecue, bo ssäm, pork carnitas, and porchetta.

So why’s it called a butt? Butchers during colonial days often considered cuts that were not “high on the hog,” such as the front shoulder, less appealing cuts of meat. Therefore they’d pack these cuts of pork into barrels, also known as butts, for storage and shipping. A specialty in New England, the meat quickly became known as the “Boston Butt.”

Pork Tenderloin
The pork tenderloin, also known as pork fillet, is the most tender cut of pork as it comes from the major muscle along the central spine of the pig. Due to its lack of fat, tenderloin has a mild flavor and is typically prepared with an abundance of spice rubs and marinades. Weighing in around ½ pound, tenderloin is best when grilled or slow-roasted, sliced into thin medallions, and shared with friends and family. Be careful when preparing – this lean cut of meat tends to dry out when overcooked!

Health Nuts: The tenderloin is known to contain less fat than a skinless chicken breast – so feel free to pig out!

Ham Hocks
An inexpensive cut, ham hocks are the joints, or knuckles, that connect the foot to the hog’s leg of the pig. Each hock contains two round shank bones that are exposed on both ends, and is sometimes sold with skin still attached. One of the least expensive cuts, ham hocks require long cooking and primarily serve as flavor-boosters to soups, stews & veggies alike. Here in the South you’ll find ham hocks in almost any pot of collard greens or green beans, as the distinct, rich flavor they contribute has become a staple in southern comfort food.

Bacon
Once you’ve basked in the smell of sizzling bacon, you’ll understand why it’s one of the most popular cuts of pork around the world. Most commonly cut from the side – or the belly—of the pig, bacon is cured with salt by the slab and then sliced into strips of preferred thickness. Location ultimately deciphers the cut style and fat-to-meat ratio, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself eating bacon cubes rather than strips when abroad!

The large amount of fat found in bacon gives it a sweet flavor and when fried, a soft crispiness. Available in a variety of flavors — red pepper, maple, brown sugar and apple-smoked, just to name a few — bacon can be broiled, pan-fried, baked or even microwaved. Bacon is a great source of flavor can be incorporated into any and all dishes – or served on its own. The high demand for this cut of pork has called for certain pigs, such as the Yorkshire and the Tamworth, to be specially bred for bacon.

Bring home the bacon! During the 12th Century, a church in England offered a side of bacon to any man who could swear before the congregation that he had not quarreled with his wife for over a year. Men who could accomplish this task were highly respected in society!

Pig Cheeks
Uniquely lean but very moist, pig cheeks come from the hollow of the cheek, under the pig’s eyes. When properly cooked over an extended amount of time, this often-overlooked cut of meat is capable of breaking down into fork-tender flesh. Pig cheeks are most commonly braised by the home cook but are slowly making their way onto menus across the States due to their wonderful fat-to-meat ratio.

Pig Ears
As you can guess, pig ears come from atop the head of the pig. Covered with a thick, rubbery skin, pig ears require long cooking in order to break down the large amounts of tough cartilage. Surprisingly, pig ears are cooked around the world – as a roasted tapas, crunchy snack, or a pickled accouterment – and have recently become trendy in the states due to the rising popularity of no-waste, nose-to-tail eating. Never tried them? Pull out your cast iron skillet and give it a try!

Be sure to make extras… Our canine friends enjoy them too!

Baby Back Ribs
Baby back ribs, also known as pork loin back ribs or loin ribs, come from the top of the rib cage between the spine and the spare ribs (just below the loin muscle). Despite their name, baby back ribs come from full grown pigs, and are only termed “baby” because they are shorter in relation to the larger spare ribs. A bone-in cut, each rib is short and curved as a result of the natural taper of the pig’s rib cage. Although they’re smaller in size, baby back ribs are the more tender rib option because the meat in between each bone is loin meat rather than belly meat. With or without sauce, these ribs are mmm mmm good!

Cheating Pig! Depending on the size of the pig, baby back ribs can range from 8 to 13 ribs. However, if you’re sold a rack with fewer than 10 bones, you’ve been sold a “cheater rack!”

Fore Shanks (specialty)
The fore shank is the front lower leg of the pig, just above the foot. When cooked long & slow, shanks become tender & flavorful, making them the perfect cut for hearty stews.

Fore shanks are specialty cuts and must be ordered through your butcher.

Whole Ham
Feeding a crowd? You’ve found the right cut! One of the largest cuts, the whole ham comes from the rear leg of the pig and is available with, or without the bone. Here in the States, we feast on two types of whole ham: the City Ham and the Country Ham. City hams are what you find at your local supermarket — processed in a wet brine and smoked, the City Ham comes moist and full of juicy flavor. On the other hand, Country Hams are dry-cured and aged, resulting in a dry, saltier flavor. A Southerner’s favorite, Country Ham is served in small amounts and tends to be at the center of the table on Christmas Day.

So they say… Some butchers are convinced the ham of the left leg is more tender than the right as pigs scratch themselves with their right leg, creating more muscle.

St. Louis Ribs
Take a slab of spare ribs, remove the sternum bone, cartilage, and rib tips, and you’ll be left with a flat rectangular slab called the St. Louis cut. St. Louis Ribs come from the belly side of the rib cage and are therefore larger (featuring 10 to 13 bones), fatter and less expensive than baby back ribs. The rack’s flat shape works well when recipes call for browning on the stove, and the fat content creates great flavor, making this cut one of the main contenders in competition barbecue.

Why the name? Folks say that in the early ‘80s, the US Dept. of Agriculture began writing standards for meat labeling known as the Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications. These specifications were to officially name and diversify each cut of meat. The man put in charge of writing these standards knew this cut was popular in the St. Louis area and it just so happens that he was a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan. Though it was against policy, he insisted the cut be officially named St. Louis Ribs.

Pork Belly
Pulled from the underside of the pig, pork belly comes from the same cut of meat as bacon. The difference, however, is that pork belly has not been cured. Cut into slabs, the meat of pork belly is wrapped in layers of rich pork fat that – when cooked right – delectably melts in your mouth. A boneless cut, pork belly is enormously popular in the Chinese culture, and has recently been replacing bacon on menus across the States. As a home cook you might have trouble finding a slab at your local grocery, but if you do find one, we recommend taking full advantage!

Whole Hog
Whole hog cooking is an ancient tribal ritual that been practiced all around the world! It’s a true feast in which an entire pig – nose to tail – is slow-roasted over coals before its succulent meat is picked, chopped or sliced! Whether you order 40 pound suckling pig or a whopping 200 pound full-grown pig, whole hog cooking is always a consuming process that when accomplished, provides an impressive meal for the masses!

Sausage
Sausage is seasoned ground pork that can be enclosed in a casing, like the hot dog, or be served loosely as pan, or bulk sausage. There’s an infinite range of national and regional varieties of sausage, so the type is determined by the location of origin, cuts of pork used, casing preparation and taste. The most common cuts of pork used for sausage are the shoulder butt and the loin – always blended with an abundance of seasonings, sausage is great for breakfast, grilling, or as a replacement for the usual ho-hum ground beef.

Way back when… Dating back to the turn of the twentieth century, sausage is one of the oldest forms of processed foods! Long before the advent of refrigeration, immigrants brought with them their knowledge of curing, drying, and smoking meat in order to keep it from rotting.