Ham - a few facts

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Ham - A few facts

Regarding hams not chemically cured: Pardon me for being very old-fashioned; I don't know of any way to cure a ham that is not chemical.

On one extreme, the whole world, including the ham is made of chemicals.

More moderately, the word "cure: insinuates the use of "chemicals" even if only salt. But the use of saltpeter ( nitrate) has been in use for centuries. It was discovered that bacteria in the meat and surrounding solution converted the nitrate to nitrite. A more modern cure by-passed the bacteria to use nitrite directly in the cure solution. It is nitrite that makes cured meat pink; without it, dull gray to brown and not very appetizing.

My personal preference is for a so-called long cure ham, made with salt, some sugar and a tiny bit of nitrate and nitrite, some of each. Stitch pump this into the flesh of the ham [inject it with a syringe and perforated needle in numerous places but especially around the bone and shank joint where spoilage usually startes] or artery pump using the femoral artery as an injection point. This is the best and safest.

Immerse the pumped ham in "pickle" which is nothing more than more brine of essentially the same formula as the pumping "pickle" but without the sugar which might support bacterial growth. If you have a barrel or vat of these hams, unpack and re-pack them every two weeks or so [called overhaul]. In no less than 30 days and preferrably 60 days, remove and rinse the hams, put the in a stockingette and into the smoke house kept at about 120 degrees for the first day or so.

The hams can be kept in the smoke house indefinitely without added heat but re-smoke every two weeks or so. Keep the hams hung so varmints cannot get to them. ... they like ham too. To store for a long time, remove from the smoke house [in the spring] and wrap in muslin which is painted with white wash. ... the real lime white wash. Build up a firm layer of lime. These hams can be hung in a barn or attic indefinitely. Some country ham buffs say at least two years.

To prepare such a ham for eating it must, of course, be washed clean and should be soaked overnight in water. A short par-boil before final roasting is also recommended.

Modern water added hams were not an invention to cheat people but a response to people who didn't really like hams. By adding extra water to the cure, the meat is more tender and less flavorful. The modern process can also be completed within two days but the ham has no "cured" flavor.

The canned or casing wrapped ham is usually not smoked at all but may have smoke flavoring added.

Recipe By : JohnT6020


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