The Wonderful World of Hams (Part 2)

October 28th, 2015
dry cured Kentucky ham

This is our second blog featuring speeches written by 4-H students who participate in a project of curing country hams at our facility each year. This speech is written by Robert Morgan. Here is Robert’s speech:
“If you thought they only cured hams in the Southern U.S., you’d be dead wrong! It’s a preservation technique, therefore is practiced all over the map, yet as a Western tradition, has only been practiced since the 15th century. We can understand a little bit about a group’s culinary traditions based upon the way they practice this fine art.
Many people cure their own hams. Several cultures— Germans, Spanish, Chinese, and the Caribbean, just to name a few— have their own version, reflecting the area’s unique flavor. The preparation process, meaning the smoke, spices, cuts, and storage, differentiates them. They can be either skinned, skinless, partially boned, boned, or rolled and tied into a neat round shape. They also can be either wet or dry cured. Wet cured means that they are either soaked in or injected with brine, usually mixed with spices, sugar, and nitrates. This causes them to have a milder, wetter flavor. The downside is that these hams need to be refrigerated. In contrast, dry cured hams, are rubbed or packed in salt, sugar, and other spices, which gives them a sharper, dryer flavor, as well as a coarser texture than wet cured ham. Unlike the other variety, these are well preserved and do not require refrigeration.
Several subcategories of ham exist. Smoked hams are infused with the vapor of burning wood, such as that of a pine or hickory. This can be done either by hanging in a smokehouse or with the use of chemicals. Country hams are dry cured, and normally smoked. Spiral-cut hams are wet-cured, smoked, and have been run through a machine that results in a cut of meat that can hold its shape and be pulled apart easily. Deli ham has been injected with brine and possibly even slightly smoked. Canned ham is wet-cured ham that has been placed inside a can for preservation. Aged hams are at least seven years old by the time they are consumed. Prosciutto is a dry-cured ham that has been smoked and pressed. Serrano and Iberico hams are Spanish. Tasso is a Cajun ham.
Germans normally serve their hams either raw or boiled, with the exception of Black Forest Ham, which is smoked at 77℉— and was traditionally soaked briefly in beef blood to turn it black. If raw, it has a dark red color, unlike boiled hams, which are a hot pink. The specialty hams differ depending upon what wood they’re smoked with, such as oak, cedar, hickory, and pine, and what’s mixed into the meat— various berries and seeds. Black forest ham, for example, is slowly roasted over pine chips. Westphalian hams are smoked over beech wood and juniper berries.
After hams are prepared, they are often glazed with a liquid mixture. Usually this will include honey; sometimes other bases, such as molasses, are used. The glaze is used to give the ham a nice sheen and to add a more robust flavor.
Ham is not only an American tradition, but a global one as well. The way a people cures their pork is not only a reflection of the geography, but of the culture as well.”

Written by Laura Oberle

There’s Kentucky country ham, and then there’s Kentucky country ham from Broadbent’s. The makers of award-winning Kentucky country ham, hickory smoked bacon, and smoked sausage. The tradition of making products of the highest quality has been the same for over 100-years. Whether your tastes in Ham flavor is salty or sweet, we’ve got the perfect Ham for your Christmas celebration! Please Browse through our selections, all guaranteed to please!

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