Johann Steinwender and Gailtal Valley bacon
  • Nassfeld-Pressegger See
SFT_Nudl Kudl Mudl Grünwald_(c) www.slowfood (14) | © MarianneDaberer
Slow Food Travel Alpe Adria
More about the author

Johann Steinwender is very fond of tradition. He is the host in the Biedermeier Lerchenhof castle on the sunny side of Hermagor, and as a careful farmer, he is one of only 15 certified producers of the genuine Gailtal Valley bacon PDO. Anyone who wants to join him on the Slow Food Travel seminar "The fascination of bacon" will be taken on a journey from good animal husbandry and proper slaughtering to all the stages of bacon production. The bacon is cut into pieces and cured with selected spices, then carefully smoked and finally left to air-dry. The self-produced piece of bacon now needs what every good product needs according to master bacon-maker Steinwender’s philosophy: Time. That's why every participant receives their own piece of genuine Gailtal Valley bacon by post after about six months, as the most delicious of all course certifications.

Gailtal Valley bacon needs patience

It can take a few months before an original Gailtal Valley bacon is finely sliced and served at the table. And that is a good thing. Because before the maturing process even begins, the regional pigs are properly pampered on the farm of "lord of the castle" Johann Steinwender.

Guests of the picturesque Biedermeier castle at the sunny gates to Carinthia's Gitschtal Valley can see this for themselves.

Of course, the European Union also honours this and has granted trademark protection to the fine product. But it was not only the commissions in Brussels that paid their respects to this Gailtal Valley culinary delicacy! The scribe of the then bishop of the diocese of Aquilaea was addicted to Gailtal Valley bacon already in the 15th century. Paolo Santonino, a very eager reporter, praised the unique taste of Alpine bacon, thus proving how long this culinary craft has been a tradition in our country.

The Biedermeier castle of the Steinwender family symbolises the maturing process of the bacon. The manor house, built in 1850, did also not just appear in the lush sunshine near the Thurnhof as if by magic.

"Give the product time, that is our philosophy. Producing today and hitting the market tomorrow, that simply doesn't work if you want to deliver quality."
For Johann Steinwender, the time factor is very important for good bacon

Unlike industrial mass production, the regional pig lives much longer on the farm. This in turn has a wonderful effect on the taste, because - fat is a flavour carrier and develops more healthy, unsaturated fats due to the long maturing time. Our body reacts positively to this. So, if the pig is fine, we are fine too.

Johann Steinwender also takes regionality very seriously. The pig's pedigree must be proven to come from the Gailtal Valley, it must have grown up here and it must be slaughtered at a weight of at least 140 kilograms. If not all of these criteria are met, there is no certificate of origin.

Find out more

You might also be interested in