Salt Air-Dried Ham Recipe

This Salt Air-Dried Ham Recipe is a 4 to 5 month process. Although you’ll have to wait up to 5 months to taste a slice, the result will be worth every minute you spent on it. There is a talk in the beginning of the recipe saying that the pig makes a lot of difference. So, they recommend carefully grown or organically raised hogs. The plan is to raise a couple of pigs for slaughter, so that we have them next Spring. Surely I will try this one. I do believe that my basement would work for this. I have an older house and it has an older basement that was used primarily for food storage. This could work out really well.

Ingredients

4 Pounds/2 kilograms kosher salt, or as needed to coat the ham

One 12 - 15 lb fresh ham, skin on, aitch-bone removed

½ Cup/500 grams lard

Cracked black pepper

Cheesecloth

Preparation

Rub the salt heavily all over the ham, especially on the exposed flesh and around the exposed femur bone.

Place skin side down in a non-reactive roasting pan or plastic tub, cover with plastic wrap, and place another pan on top. Weigh the ham with about 10 lbs (cans or clean bricks). Refrigerate for 1 day for each pound, checking every couple of days to make sure all areas are still covered in salt. Pour off any excess water and add more salt if necessary. Avoid touching the ham with your bare hands too much. You may want to use disposable rubber gloves for sanitation.

On the last day of curing, the ham should feel firm and dense to the touch. If it does not, resalt as necessary and cure for another 1 to 3 days.

Wipe the remaining salt off the ham, rinse under cool water, and pat dry with paper towels. Spread the lard over the exposed meat and pack the cracked pepper onto the lard (the lard helps to keep the exposed flesh from over-drying, and the pepper helps to keep bugs away). Wrap the ham in four layers of cheesecloth and tie with butcher’s string.

Hang the ham in a cool, dry place (ideally 60ºF/15.6°C with 60 to 70% humidity) with good ventilation for at least 4 to 5 months, or as long as a year. The ham should lose almost half of its original weight. You will know it is ready when there isn’t much give when you squeeze it. And you can also take a metal skewer and insert it in the center remove and smell – it should have a cured aroma. This takes practice.

When the ham has dried, wipe off all the lard and carefully remove the rind with a sharp boning knife. Slice paper-this, parallel to the bone with a sharp slicing knife.