Mish i Squkur
Cured meats and meat products - Albania
The pig and its derived products are very common in the whole region of Kelmend, in northern Albania at the border with Montenegro. The importance of the pig is linked with it's use as a primary protien soure in winter for the area's 99% Catholic population. Mish i skuqur (“fried meat”) is a very old method of conserving meat in Kelmend, northern Albania, that can be used in warmer weather conditions.To prepare the meat, the fattest part of the pig and its lard is used. The meat is cut into small pieces (about 10 cm), fried for 5 minutes and packed firmly in a barrel. The fat covers the meat so that the air cannot reach it. The meat can be preserved for more than a year.This type of meat is used also in some typical dishes of the region, such as the kaçimak or with vegetables such as cabbages and beans. Mish i skuqur is produced form the meat of the Kelmend pig, a small but particularly fat breed. Since the fall of Communism, the Kelmend pig has been cross-bred with larger, more productive breeds from Montenegro. Today Kelmend pigs are larger and leaner than they were in the past. Their weight varies from a minimum of 120 kilograms to a maximum of 200 kg. The community is particularly careful in feeding the pigs, avoiding excessive corn in the diet and giving it local herbs, bran and grass to improve meat quality. Each sow can give birth to 8-16 pigs per year.The importance of the pig in this region is linked with it's use as a primary protien soure in winter for the area's 99% Catholic population. Almost each family in Kelmend owns at least one or more pigs, and products like mish i skuqur are limited to this region. The risk of disapperance of this product and related breed are due to social and economic conditions in the region. There is a large amount of emigration of younger generations from the area due to the lack of opportunities in the territory and the low profitability of traditional farming and breeding activities. This is bringing about the gradual loss of the knowledge related to the traditional, local methods of meat conservation.