There are 13,564 people in the U.S. listed on with the last name 'Ham'
(Mark Morton, 'Gastronomica', Fall 2010)

Country Ham or Country-Style Ham - This is a dry-cured ham. The ham is hand rubbed with salt, sugar and nitrate; packed in the curing ingredients and usually smoked. A country ham is much drier than injected-cured hams and has a sharper flavored due to its high salt content.

Picnic Ham is a cut of pork from the upper part of the foreleg and includes a portion of the shoulder. By definition, it is not a true ham (Ham is cut from the hind leg). However, the Picnic Ham is cured in the same manner as ham, giving it a ham-like flavor.

Some ham fanatics, excuse me, epicures, look for the ham made from the left leg of a pig, as it is more tender than the right leg. Why, you ask? Well, a pig scratches himself with his right leg, which uses the muscles more often, so the meat will be tougher. (Really strange ham lovers would have to observe the pig before slaughter to be sure it isn't left footed!)

The Hormel Company of Austin, Minnesota sold the first canned ham in 1926.

Chicago artist Dwight Kalb made a statue of Madonna from 180 pounds of ham.

A ham is the rear leg of a hog, usually preserved by salting, smoking or drying, or a combination of these methods. Fresh hams are also available.  In the U.S. pork shoulders are frequently processed into hams and marketed as picnic hams, shoulder hams, etc.

Ham is one of the oldest meats of civilized man, although Larousse Gastronomique claims that the salting and smoking of pork to produce ham is a French invention.

Hams are produced by almost every country in the world. Here are the names of some of the better known hams of the world: Smithfield, prosciutto, Westphalian, Parma, Virginia, Kentucky, Country, Canned, Bayonne, York, Mainz, Prague, Asturias, Toulouse, Dijon, Black Forest, Bohemian, Serrano, presunto, Bradenham, Estremadura, Prazska sunks, and szynka.

Mainz ham is a German ham that is brined, soaked in brandy or wine lees (or a mixture of both) and then smoked for a long period.

The Trigg County Country Ham Festival
     Trigg County, Kentucky, has been holding the festival every year since 1977. Each October, tens of thousands of people from all over the country come to sample the county's famous country cured hams.
     The world's largest country ham and biscuit is made here each year as part of the festivities, and many contests are held, including the pig derby, a greased-pig catching contest, and a kiss a pig contest. Just hope it doesn't kiss back!
Library of Congress Local Legacies Project


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