Phil Gyford


Wednesday 22 January 2003

PreviousIndexNext Thayer's Pork Pies

I shared my latest batch of flapjacks around the office today and in return got a slice of one of Thayer’s tasty home-made pork pies. I love pork pies but rarely buy them from shops as I shudder to think what peripheral shreds of pig are forced into those gelatinous and crumbly husks. But now I can make my own wholesome pies using Thayer’s recipe. She adds:

I reckon the next batch I make will be 1/2 butter, 1/2 lard pastry, as the pastry is yummy yet lacking a little wetness (fatness?!) so I think that will sort it tip top.


I spent thousands of hours working in a pork pie factory for a company in Beeston Nottingham in the early/mid eighties. I became a vegetarian shortly after. Every wonder how the pork pies with egg in the middle, get the egg in the middle?

The world is a fascinating place.


Posted by Richard Hyett on 23 January 2003, 8:43 am | Link

OK, I'm intrigued and want to know more about what goes into pork pies and, especially, how the egg gets there...

Posted by Phil Gyford on 23 January 2003, 1:57 pm | Link

Mm, they were tasty pies. Duck ones next. If you'd like to see a photo of the product of that recipe, have a look at underthe header Pork Pies! :-)

Ps - Phil's flapjacks are *way* too nice. Evil Phil.

Posted by Thayer on 23 January 2003, 3:52 pm | Link

Working in a pork pie factory.

The eggs used to arrive, hard boiled and without shells, in yellow buckets, sealed with white lids. How many eggs can you get in a bucket? I don't know, a hundred, two hundred. The fascinating thing was that the eggs were already peeled, they were without shells. I used to try and imagine some poor bugger with sore fingers shelling hundreds of eggs all day and putting them in buckets. Some of my more scientifically minded colleagues had a theory that the thick viscous solution the eggs came in, somehow dissolved the shells auto magically in transit. They thought this even though there was never any trace of shells in the buckets. How the eggs lost their shells is a question that troubles me to this day. Anyway all this is by the by. How, you are wondering did the eggs get in the middle of those pies?

The organisational structure of the pork pie factory was hierarchical. There was about 8 production lines all producing different types of pie and pastie. Each line had about five or six people on it they wore white caps. Each line was managed by a red cap who was in charge. A number of lines were presided over by a blue cap and sections of the factory presided over by me who wore trilbies, we all work hair nets. The trilbies were the highest of the high, in all my time there I never got to speak to one.

From time to time a line would break down, usually a mechanical failure. The red cap would come up to us and say "Alright Duck get rollin some eggs". It was Nottingham after all. We would walk down to the bottom of the factory grab a bucket each and start rolling the eggs into flat pattiesof pork. Everyone found this tremendously therapeutic. It was a bit like making snow balls with stones in, but no one got hurt and your hands stayed warm. After twenty minutes or so the line would come back on and we resumed our places.

It wasn't that hygienic in the factory. If you had a dirty job and your hands were filthy and the call came to roll eggs, there was little opportunity to wash your hands. Visits to the bathroom toilet, as in any production line environment, were carefully regulated. I always remember, that above the men's urinal on the wall, there was a six foot horizontal line of snot at nose height. On the day that Marks and Spencers came to visit, those of us with particularly dirty overalls were sent up to get fresh ones. Otherwise no one was particularly bothered about how clean they were.

The jellying section of the factory was one of the most fascinating. Not least because the man in charge of it Tom (a blue cap) was one of the most impressive human beings I have ever met. He was a sort of Colonel H Jones figure. I would have followed him anywhere. I remember being completely overawed whenever he spoke to me. Anyway the jellying section was where jelly was put into the freshly baked pies. Each man had a stack of baskets containing the pies and a jelly gun. You poked two holes at opposite sides of the pie lid, then squirted the jelly down the second hole until it came out of the first hole. As soon as it appeared out of the first hole you went on to the next pie. Big pies were best, little pies were worst, because of the time it took to encase the pork in jelly and the amount of rest it gave your arm. Jellying was a much coveted job, some men had been there for years. It was not unknown for people to get red hot jelly in their eyes, especially if they lost concentration in mid squirt. Jelly fights were not unheard of, but never in Tom's presence.

Posted by Richard Hyett on 23 January 2003, 8:32 pm | Link

How do they get the egg to look like it's one long egg in Gala Pie?
Did you have to cut off the ends of the eggs?
I once packed sausages in a factory during the summer holidays and can't eat sausages since.
It's not so much what goes on as the awful smell of raw sausage meat and standing up for 8 hours in a cold, noisy room with stupid atire and people in colour-coded hard hats bossing you around.
I obviously showed promise though since I was promoted to cellophane wrapping and sealing on my second day!

Posted by Angie on 30 June 2003, 12:41 pm | Link

First hand experience is lacking on this one.
Gala Pies are commonly advertised as with 'egg' rather than 'eggs'
At one time it would not be unreasonable to envisage a pie maker requesting a special order 'long eggs' from a farmer. The variation in size and shape of eggs should not be underestimated. However in factory I worked and I suspect in others they would not have had the time or inclination to look for or order long eggs.
The stretching effect which seems implicit in Gala pies is as much a mystery to me as it is to you.

Posted by Richard Hyett on 2 July 2003, 11:25 am | Link

I would love to know what ingredient makes the pork meat go a nice shade of pink when cooked in the pastry I have tried a lot of recipes and havnt managed to make a pork pie that looks like a bought one yet Please can someone help?

Posted by Katherine Be on 18 July 2004, 5:32 am | Link

Long Eggs in Gala Pies

The so called 'long egg' in Gala Pies is actually made of several eggs. The yolks are seperated from the whites and the yolks are then poured into a long tube-shaped mold in which they are cooked. The hard yolk is removed from the mold then put inside a larger tube-shaped mold and the egg whites are poured round the outside of the hard yolk. The whole thing is then cooked again to harden the whites around the yolk. This is then removed from the mold thus producing one very long hard-boiled egg!

Posted by Roland on 4 October 2004, 10:12 pm | Link

I would love to know what ingredient makes the pork meat go a nice shade of pink when cooked in the pastry I have tried a lot of recipes and havnt managed to make a pork pie that looks like a bought one yet Please can someone help?

Posted by kathy gilchrist on 18 December 2004, 8:36 am | Link

I was sat here eating a pork pie, but now it's in the bin
I don't think i will ever eat another one unless i make it myself

Posted by lesley on 29 December 2005, 2:30 pm | Link

Kathy - that'll be potassium nitrate. It's used for curing meat, and theoretically renders it safe to eat even without cooking.

You might want to try putting a little bacon in with the pork when you mince it, then mince it a few more times to make sure it's well mixed through.

Posted by Lisa Parratt on 3 April 2006, 9:29 am | Link

I was aware of the long egg process but am still having difficulties in convincing my friends. Does anyone know of a web site which more fully explains or even has photo diagrams of the process? Please email me directly but put 'long egg' in the subject line as I delete mails that I dont recognise. Many thanks folks....Ray

Posted by Ray Jacob on 15 August 2006, 7:02 pm | Link

Forgot to put my email address

Posted by Ray Jacob on 18 August 2006, 6:51 pm | Link

hi i love pork pies but they are not like the ones we used to get when we were kids todays pies are tasteless and no jelly in most of them i love plenty of jelly in mine i hav'nt found a good one one yet i've tryed hundreds of them but i'm still looking all the best ralph.

Posted by ralph wall on 19 January 2007, 7:55 am | Link

This topic came up again at breakfast today and it seems like the Internet has got better at answer the "long egg" question over the years. Here, for example, is information about "the long egg machine":

The SANOVO 6-32 became known as the long egg machine. The machine, which produced egg pieces that were app. 20 cm long with a regular centre of yolk surrounded by egg white of an even thickness, was a sensation at its first exhibition in London in 1974. The concept behind the long egg was simple, but the development of the machine required considerable time and resources.

Posted by Phil Gyford on 1 May 2009, 10:47 am | Link

Where do you get the tubes to cook the eggs in for the gala pork pies? Does anyone know?

Posted by anajinn on 21 October 2009, 5:56 pm | Link

I'm sorry all this is facsinating but can someone please tell me what the hell is actually contained in the pork is it mechanically seperated does it contain offal cuts, i mean i dont eat them but its the other products such as pies and pastys and sausauge rolls i think about and i found out the other day a hot dog is 0% meat because the crap inside it constitutes as a waste product but that fit for consumption (BBC whats really in our food) and that meat content is somewhat misleading. Im no vegie but it really makes you think :)

Posted by Dean cook on 8 November 2009, 2:09 am | Link

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