Herbs and veggies add flavor to local sausage


The innovative work of a creative local charcutier can inspire us to use more local ingredients in our favorite recipes. Before Devin Lowder starts making his artisan meat products, he selects herbs from his garden and buys local produce from his fellow vendors at the Keauhou Saturday Farmers Market. He and his wife, Kristin, began making sausage several years ago and, in 2010, founded When Pigs Fly Island Charcuterie Co. enabling them to share their products with local consumers.

The French word charcuterie describes the craft of salting, smoking and curing meat. Lowder has expanded his skill from local pork to include local chicken, beef and veal, as well as a variety of local vegetables and herbs that enhance his final products.

Many of his recipes are based on European, Asian and American favorites. All are becoming Kona favorites. Bratwurst, Italian and Andouille sausages, Carolina-style pork, Asian sausage with pickled daikon and kimchee all offer different flavors with local meats as the base. Some recipes include his bacon, pastrami, pancetta, ham or pate, which are also available individually packed and sold fresh or frozen.

Asian herbs including lemongrass, Thai basil, coriander and cilantro define the flavors of the Korean pork taco and banh mi sausage sandwich. Lowder grows these herbs in his backyard garden. Several products are flavored with pink peppercorns and allspice, collected from the trees on his property.

Lowder’s dedication to using local ingredients has resulted in many new recipes. His shawarma sandwich, for instance, includes a Lebanese-style sausage made from local lamb, beef and chicken served on his homemade pita bread and topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes and cabbage, all from local farmers. The Southern-style chow chow served with his Andouille sausage is a result of a friend’s bounty of green tomatoes. He’s even found a way to tweak a Portuguese sausage recipe to complement his topping of pineapple relish. Cabbage, carrots, peppers, radishes and potatoes grace many of his products and are identified on his farmers market menu.

The curing process involves creative use of local spices, herbs and honey, imparting special and unique flavors. Most of Lowder’s recipes are proprietary, though he’ll happily report the variety of ingredients he uses.

In addition to cooking and serving products at the Keauhou Farmers Market, When Pigs Fly has expanded its product line to include dried sausages and many frozen items that are also available at the Kings’ Shops Farmers Market on Wednesdays. Its products will soon be available at Kailua Candy Co. and at the South Kona Green Market at Doug Pittman’s Kona Hawk Farm booth.

Recipes for sauces, relishes, pickles, chutneys, jams, jellies and baked goods, as well as pastas, terrines and family meals can be creatively enhanced with local ingredients, adding interesting flavors that our tropical crops offer. You only need to go as far as your own garden or the closest farmers market to get ideas. Choose recipes you love and imagine using crops you grow, want to plant or know you can find locally to enhance them. You’ll be well on your way to interesting locavore meals.

Tropical gardening helpline

Benny asks: Within a week of planting a new garden, pigs got into it and destroyed most of what I had planted. Is there anything I can plant that pigs don’t like or something organic I can spray to repel them? I’d like a solution that’s cheaper than fencing.

Answer: Unfortunately, fencing and eradication are the only two proven methods against pigs. Although frightening them and using repellents have been mentioned in some research, each of these methods has varying degrees of effectiveness.

Trapping or hunting may be an alternative as long as you have a plan for the animal once it is trapped or killed.

Old-style traps often include underground chambers covered with camouflage or hidden snares. Modern metal cage traps are effective but somewhat expensive. You can view many different styles online. Some farmers or pig hunters make their own traps, taking into account that pigs are smart, very strong and hard to contain.

If you have a farm, you may want to consult with the local branch of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to see if it is still offering funding for farmers to fence their crops to protect them from pig damage. If you decide to fence, it is best to take the time to make it strong and close to the ground. Pigs are hard to deter. A strand of barbed wire along the bottom helps to discourage them from rooting.

Call the Hawaii Island Humane Society to see if it rents traps or can recommend someone who does.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture may have a list of hunters to recommend. There are some regulations on hunting pigs, so it’s best to work within the system. Though killing the pigs may seem undesirable, it will save your garden and provide meat for you, a local family or a sausage maker.

Email plant questions to konamg@ctahr.hawaii.edu for answers by certified master gardeners. Some questions will be chosen for inclusion in this column.

Diana Duff is a plant adviser, educator and consultant with an organic farm in Captain Cook.