What is ham?
A: Ham is pork from a leg cut that has been preserved by wet or dry curing.
As a processed meat, the term "ham" includes both whole
cuts of meat and what?
A: Ones that have been mechanically formed.
Ham is made around the world, including a number of
A: Regional specialties, such as Westphalian ham and some varieties of Spanish jamón.
In addition, numerous ham products have specific
A: Naming protection, such as prosciutto di Parma in Europe, and Smithfield ham in the US.
The preserving of pork leg as ham has a long history,
with traces of production of cured ham among what?
A: Among the Etruscan civilization known in the 6th and 5th century BC.
Cato the Elder wrote about the "salting of hams" in his
De Agri Cultura tome around when?
A: 160 BC.
There are claims that the Chinese were the first people
to mention what?
A: The production of cured ham.
It was certainly well established by the Roman period,
as evidenced by what?
A: An import trade from Gaul mentioned by Marcus Terentius Varro in his writings.
The modern word "ham" is derived from what?
A: The Old English ham or hom meaning the hollow or bend of the knee, from a Germanic base where it meant "crooked".
When did it begin to refer to the cut of pork derived
from the hind leg of a pig?
A: Around the 15th century.
Because of the preservation process, ham is a compound
foodstuff or ingredient, being made up of the original meat, as well what?
A: The remnants of the preserving agent(s), such as salt, but it is still recognized as a food in its own right.
How is ham produced?
A: By curing raw pork by salting, also known as dry curing, or brining, also known as wet curing.
Traditional dry cure hams may use only what as the
This process involves cleaning the raw meat, covering
it in salt while it is gradually what?
A: Pressed draining all the blood.
The hams are then washed and hung where?
A: In a dark, temperature-regulated place until dry.
It is then what?
A: Hung to air for another period of time.
The duration of the curing process varies by what?
A: The type of ham.
How long does it take Jinhua ham to complete?
A: Approximately 8 to 10 months.
Serrano ham cures in how long?
A: 9–12 months.
Iberian ham can take up to how long to reach the
desired flavor characteristics?
A: 2 years.
Most modern dry cure hams also use what?
A: Nitrites (either sodium nitrite or potassium nitrite), which are added along with the salt.
Why are nitrites used?
A: Because they prevent bacterial growth and, in a reaction with the meat's myoglobin, give the product a desirable dark red color.
The amount and mixture of salt and nitrites used have
an effect on what?
A: The shrinkage of the meat.
Because of the toxicity of nitrite, some areas specify
A: A maximum allowable content of nitrite in the final product.
Under certain conditions, especially during
nitrites in meat can react with degradation products of amino acids, forming
A: Nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens.
The dry curing of ham involves a number of what?
A: Enzymatic reactions.
Dry-cured ham is usually eaten without being what?
Wet-cured hams are brined, which involves the immersion
of the meat in what?
A: A brine, sometimes with other ingredients such as sugar also added for flavor.
The meat is typically kept in the brine for how long?
A: Around 3 to 14 days.
Wet curing also has the effect of increasing volume and
weight of the finished product, by about how much?
The wet curing process can also be achieved by doing
A: By pumping the curing solution into the meat.