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LiVar pork

Succulent, tender and with a distinctive flavour – LiVar, the convent pig

This is the renaissance of pork with a flavour and accurate fat content. LiVar, the monastery pig from the Dutch province of Limburg, combines precisely those positive characteristics that distinguished traditional, now-extinct Dutch pig breeds such as the Longeared, Frisian or Pied: robustness and the genetic capability of storing intramuscular fat, which gives the pork an outstanding flavour. The marbling of their meat is similarly pronounced as that of the famous Spanish Ibérico pigs. It is firmer and darker than meat gained from intensive fattening. This is precisely what connoisseurs, now as then, value in good meat: flavour, tenderness, succulence.

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Around ten years ago, a small group of pig breeders around Frans de Rond from the Netherlands began to hybridise different breeds of pig.  The first appealing crossbreed involved four different breeds: the Dutch Landrace pig, the Swabian-Hall swine, the English Essex Saddleback and the American Duroc. The result was the LiVar (“Limburg Pig”, from northern German Limburgse Varken).

The breeders wanted to raise their LiVar pigs in an authentic environment that would allow them to grow to maturity just like the old breeds did – free to roam and wallow in nature. Their choice ultimately fell on Lilbosch Abbey in Echt, Limburg, as the monks of the Cistercian Order have been specialising in breeding pigs and cows since time immemorial. The current generation of monks is still living in the abbey and pursuing this age-old passion.

Their pigs are slaughtered at an age of 10–11 months, when they weigh 120 kilograms on average. Thanks to the LiVar monastery pigs’ ability to store intramuscular fat, combined with their purely vegetarian diet consisting of grains grown in Limburg province, they yield unique pork that stays succulent and tender in the frying pan instead of drying out. It is thoroughly marbled with an intensive, exceedingly pleasant, natural flavour. The knowledge that the animals all come from free-range farming is the figurative icing on the cake.