Know Your Ham

At Easter most people are excited about having ham as the center of their holiday meal. So, just how much do you know about that ham? Most people aren’t aware that there’s “country ham” and “city ham.” Country ham is a dry-cured ham that’s rubbed with salt, sugar and nitrate, packed in the curing ingredients, and usually smoked. A country ham is much drier than a city ham and has a sharper flavor due to its high salt content. City ham is cured in a solution of salt, water, preservatives, and various sweet flavors and is usually smoked over hard woods like maple or hickory for a well-rounded, smoky flavor. Picnic ham is a cut of pork from the upper part of the foreleg and includes a portion of the shoulder. By definition, it’s not a true ham because ham is cut from the hind leg. However, the picnic ham is cured in the same manner as city ham, giving it a “ham-like” flavor. Some fanatics look for the ham made from the left leg of a pig, as it’s more tender than the right leg. Why, you ask? Well, a pig scratches itself with the right leg, which uses the muscles more often, making the meat tougher. Ham is one of the oldest meats of civilized man, with the first canned ham being introduced by the Hormel Company in 1926. So, now you know all there is to know about ham.