Hams


Hams -

Are the hind legs of the pig, above the hock joint. They are generally sold salted and smoked, but also salted only, being then used generally for boiling, and fresh-boiled, in the last-named condition chiefly for retailing in slices or by the pound as "pork Steak," "fresh pork," etc.

The curing process in the best qualities consists substantially of trimming, chilling, immersing for from forty to sixty days in a brine composed of table salt, granulated sugar and a trace of saltpetre (the last-named to fix the color), washing, drying by hanging in steam-heated apartments and smoking, the hams remaining in the smoke-house at a moderate temperature for about three days. Hickory wood or mahogany sawdust are considered the best for smoking, but other woods are occasionally employed, as for example, Juniper Brush in Germany for Westphalia Ham, to impart a distinctive flavor. The final step is wrapping the hams and sewing into canvas or burlap bags.

In the manufacture of the cheaper qualities, the salting is more speedily performed by "pumping" the brine into the ham. The time allowed for smoking is also considerably reduced, a higher degree of heat being maintained in the smoke-house.

A Skinned Ham is a large ham with the skin and fat cut off down to the shank. It is purchased principally by retailers who wish to sell it in small quantities.

A Boneless Ham is a cured ham, soaked, boned, the fat trimmed off and tied in a cloth and boiled for several hours.

An American Short Cut Ham is one cut short so as to expose the marrow, and well rounded on the butt, most of the fat being taken off the face down to the shank.

A Long Ham is cut from the side by separating the hip bone from the rump, the foot unjointed at the joint of the knee.

A Manchester Ham is the same as a Long Cut Ham, except that it is cut shorter on the butt.

A Stafford Ham is the same as a Manchester, except that the hip bone is taken out at the socket, thus exposing the knuckle.

What was formerly known as a "Picnic" or "California" ham is the shoulder with from five to eight pounds of the butt trimmed off.

As ham, like all other cured pork, loses considerably in weight by the natural evaporation of moisture and grease, it is advisable for the retailer to purchase only in small quantities so as to make as quick a turnover as possible. Some hams, as Virginia, are sold by their first weight as stamped on the canvas, irrespective of loss in weight while being held. They should always be kept in a cool dry place - never exposed to the sun in window displays, etc.

Among the best known of imported hams are: Westmoreland and York (English); Westphalia (Germany); Bayonne (France); Sprague (Hungary) and Spanish.

In purchasing a ham, it is best to choose one that is moderately fat and that weighs from twelve to sixteen pounds.

Fat is essential to a good ham - if it is lean, it is nearly always lacking in flavor and tenderness. The famous Virginia hams from lean Virginia hogs are exceptions to this rule, but their delicacy is attributed to the animals' forest diet of roots and acorns and other nuts.

A ham much under the weight mentioned is generally lacking in flavor, as the meat is ordinarily too immature. It can be used for boiling, but it is not even for that as desirable as a part or whole of a larger ham. On the other hand, if the ham is very large, the muscle is liable to be a little tough.

For the average small household, the best way of using a ham is to reserve the center for broiling and frying in slices, and to boil the remainder.

Sliced ham should never be cut more than one-quarter of an inch thick - one-sixth of an inch is still better. It is not necessary to saw through the bone - with a sharp knife, cut clean to the bone and divide the slices in the center. The broiling or frying should be done over a hot fire, but it should not be sufficiently fierce to scorch the meat. It should always be eaten fresh cooked, as broiled or fried ham will speedily toughen.

To properly boil ham, first brush it off thoroughly to remove every particle of mold, soak for an hour in cold water and then wash thoroughly. Next, with a very sharp knife, shave off the hardened surface from both the face and butt. Place over the fire in cold water, let it come to a moderate boil and keep it steadily at that point, allowing it to cook twenty minutes for each pound of meat, replenishing the supply of water as fast as it boils away. When cooked, remove the skin - it will easily peel off if it has been properly boiled - and dish with the fat side up. The service is improved by dredging black pepper in spots on the upside, sticking in a few whole cloves and garnishing with parsley.

A roasted ham is merely a boiled ham nicely browned in a hot oven. It can be rendered more appetizing in appearance by spreading egg-moistened bread crumbs or cracker dust over the fat side before putting in the oven. The ham should rest in a pan with a wire bottom, or, if that is not possible, should be so blocked that the flesh does not rest on the pan.


Arround Hams in The Grocer's Encyclopedia


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