I did not make up the title of this post – I discovered it while researching yesterday’s post about The Silver Skillet. The National Country Ham Association “was organized in 1992 to represent the interest of Country Ham Producers nationwide. Membership includes some fifty processor, supplier and academia advisor members.” What is a country ham? Shockingly enough, the NCHA provides no defintion on their website, although they don’t hesitate to tell me where to buy one. So, Wikipedia comes through yet again.
Country hams are salt- and nitrate-cured for about a month and may be hardwood (usually hickory and red oak) smoked, then aged for several months to a year. Whole country hams must be scrubbed and soaked for many hours prior to consumption in order to remove the salt cure.
Mold in no way affects the quality of the meat but rather indicates proper aging. It is a perfectly normal occurrence on a genuine country ham. Don’t worry about it, as it is a natural process that occurs very similar to the molding in fine aged cheese. If mold appears on the whole ham, this may be safely removed by washing the ham, using two parts water and one part vinegar.
Let’s hope we can get a few to review… I don’t have the facilities for curing ham. Yet.