Tracing the Origin of Ham Curing

March 3rd, 2015

prosciuttoMost of us have been trained to understand unrefrigerated meat is a recipe for disaster. It’s been instilled in us from a young age meat left at room temperature for extended periods will inevitably spoil. But the best, highest quality meats, such as cured ham and prosciutto, actually get their flavor from dry curing in unrefrigerated conditions.
A practice prehistorically fundamental to keeping the produce and meat for consumption during times of famine, food curing is among the major advancements civilization. From basic survival to world discovery, the practice was pivotal to the modern world. Allowing for preservation of meat on long journeys, proper meat curing actually was in great part responsible for the migration of man to other parts of the world.
A keystone to the Age of Discovery in the 15th century, the salt in meat curing actually kills microbes by extracting the moisture. Water is the basis of all life, including fungus and bacteria. And because when enough water is extracted from a bacterial cell, it dies and can’t spoil the meat. But what was initially discovered and implemented as a means for basic food preservation, slowly evolved into an art form.
In addition to salt, specialty curing salt is mixed with sodium nitrate. Though much of the science of how sodium nitrate impacts meat product, it is known its presence is crucial to preventing microbial growth. But these ingredients alone were found to have harsh flavors. Cutting the saltiness, meat curers began to add sugar, honey and maple syrup. Not necessarily adding much to the flavor, these additives would more take away from the potency of the sodium.
With the elimination of the biting salt flavor during medieval Europe, a gourmet menu began to grow. For more than just necessity, everything from cured rabbit to mutton and pork was found on royal dinner tables from Portugal to Bavaria. Today, cured hind and front shoulder ham is a practice yielding the best meat in the world.

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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