Aging has got more to do with it than anything I do. This is venison ham. “I wait until it bums down. If it is still too salty, try boiling it for another one or two minutes. After the initial salting, Uncle Billy goes back to the salt house three or four days later and adds another layer of salt, working the joints again to help it penetrate. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. Uncle Billy smokes it until it turns a rich mahogany color. It was the social event of the season, and all the people who worked and lived on the farm turned out to help. They are usually hardwood smoked (usually hickory and red oak), but some types of country ham, such as the "salt-and-pepper ham" of North Carolina, are not smoked. * Virginia Country Ham is cured in salt. Three wooden tiers ring the smokehouse rafters. Wiping the ham with a clean paper towel soaked in vinegar will remove any remaining mold. Uncured hams from butchers can be a tad pricey. Because it's tough to control the temperature and humidity, the salt house was built with thick walls and insulation to trap the cold inside. With my mouth watering and my eyes already feasting, my ears turned deaf to my mother's warnings not to eat too much because “it would give us children bad dreams.” (After one Christmas ham-eating binge, legend has it that my cousin Henry awoke among ripped sheets and tossed blankets.) You can create your own brine or use a recipe. This will take up to 5 hours depending on the meat's thickness. “I'll be 65 in February, and I plan to retire. Taste the ham after you have boiled it for about ten minutes. It's a sign of good moisture and maturity. Hi, thanks for stopping by. Survival Skills, Garden Planning, Seed Saving, Food Preservation, Natural Health – Dozens of courses, 100+ workshops, and interactive Q&As. And don't forget: The meat will absorb the salt until it reaches equilibrium. She picked up a ham biscuit and took a delicate bite. It usually takes 10 to 12 boxes of borax and six cans of pepper. (It’s one of the ways we kept meat edible before refrigeration came around.) Step 1 Place kosher salt, brown sugar, pickling spice, and pink salt in a container large enough to hold the brine and the ham. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, isn't it?”, Uncle Billy has never sold a ham, despite receiving many offers to buy them. When the new hams are ready for smoking, Uncle Billy takes the older hams and stores them temporarily in the salt house. Today processes may vary but essentially this ham is salty and dry. Cold-smoke the ham, if desired, for 12 hours. The result is a more subtle, milder flavor that still retains our distinctive country-cure … This is where fresh ham is rubbed with a dry mixture of salt and other ingredients. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. Uncle Billy opens the heavy latch on the door, and we step inside, enveloped by the darkness and the sharp smell of smoke and aging meat. ", Natural Cold Storage: Fresh Food in Winter, Keeping Crops Cool During Hot Weather: 13 Ways to Beat the Heat, Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price. Sign in with your online account. Country hams can be found … Mocetta (MOE-chet-uh) is a Northern Italian air-dried goat ham … * You must return product for refund or store credit. “I just mix it in till it looks right, like that,” he says, showing me the box of soap flecked with black specks of pepper. Salt cured hams are packed in salt/brine and left "out in the open" for 6 months or more. Country hams are salt-cured (with or without nitrites) for one to three months. Taste the ham after fifteen minutes. Dr. Gregg Rentfrow. The door is heavy, thick and insulated. “Curing” means preserving, typically via salt, sugar, nitrates, and/or smoke. however you can find picnic shoulders at Walmart for 12-16 bucks, the have a red and White AVA sticker on them, I used these the first time I tried curing my own ham, and they came great and tasted the same, the meat is a tad tougher (at least it was to me) the second time i let it cure an extra day it was perfect, A woman from up north was in front of me. You can also try white vinegar to help mask the saltiness. Four things influence the salting process: the thickness of the meat, the moisture of the meat, the humidity of the air and the temperature. “Once I get the fire going, I get it hot as hell,” he says. These cured hams are soaked in a saltwater brine and smoked to preserve them. Should the skippers get in anyway, he'll put his hams in the freezer for a day and scrub the smokehouse until “it's as clean as a hospital.”, “The old generation had all these little things they did,” Uncle Billy says. Two-year-old hams hang on the second tier, and 3-year-old hams are on the bottom, so that my Aunt Mildred, who stands about 5 foot 3 inches tall in her stocking feet, can retrieve them easily with the help of a long pole made just for that purpose. I present to you: mocetta. A ham has two sides, the skin side and the fresh-meat side. Unlike the salt house, which is built thick and tight, ventilation is key here. Their characteristic flavor is quite different from mild-cured commercial hams.When to cureHams should be placed in cure during December and January when production of country cured hams is dependent on natural conditions for refrigeration. Add salty ham to an omelet with cheddar and vegetables for a quick breakfast or lunch. You can soak a ham for up to 72 hours to remove the saltiness. Add a few ounces of curing salt, which is available in the canning section of a store or online. None of these kids are interested in doing it, so these will be the last of them.”. Cooked Country … I remember squash casserole, candied yams, butterbeans and snaps, and collards boiled hard and long into a wonderful deep green mush. He tells me about how, every January when he was a boy, they'd kill 30 to 40 hogs fattened on corn and peanuts to feed the family and the farmhands. Country ham is preserved by curing with a blend of salt, spices and (sometimes) sugar to make what some people say is an “unpalatable” salty, crispy result. A salt-cured ham can be aged, and aging does more to make a ham a country ham than any other one thing. This bed of curing mix should be … By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only). The commercial boys wouldn't think of building this big a space for a few hams. He covers the hams with a thin coat of the mixture, which toughens the skin to keep bugs out. don't have an online These days, however, he buys fresh “green” hams from a local slaughterhouse. Country hams are not generally smoked, but this is a matter of personal taste. Want to use it in a meal plan? Mix all these ingredients well and divide them into two equal batches. For a home-cured ham, you will either smoke it or pack it with salt, sugar, and other flavors. Salt Cured Country Hams. “We used to say you used everything but the squeal,” laughs Uncle Billy. Like to read more content, Join the Mother Earth News Community Today. I prefer … He repeats the process on the fresh side where the clavicle blade sticks up through the meat. Meat cools just like it cooks, from the outside in, he says, and the meat has to drop to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit next to the bone, a process that usually takes overnight. Remember our country hams are salt cured and will be salty in nature. He returns again seven or eight days later and repeats the process, and then leaves the hams in the salt house for most of February. Already a Member? Doing so can result in tough, dried out, or unappetizing ham. Step 2 Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and pour over the brine … Country hams can be found whole in the south–often wrapped in the netting used for smoking–or you can buy it … Like room. The desserts were nearby: plum pudding and fruitcake, ambrosia and pecan pie, and, of course, my Aunt June's legendary caramel cake, which had faithful fans in three countries. It sure is good eating.”, Salt-cured and smoked, the new hams go to the top tier to age. The men did the butchering, the women took care of the organs and scraps to make chitlins and sausage, and the children tried not to get in the way. It was my first-ever dry-cured ham, and it does not come from a pig. Ideally, for a100 pounds of fresh ham, you would need 8 pounds of salt, 2 pounds of sugar, and 2 ounces of saltpeter. “So you want to know about hams,” he said, in all seriousness. Ham, generally, is the cured hind leg of a pig, and will comprise a cut somewhere between the shank (the ankle) and the rump.