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A variety of hams that are considered to be part of a family of "specialty hams". Hams such as Kentucky, Smithfield, or Virginia are country hams that are dry cured, salted heavily,and then generally aged for 6 months to a year. Some are aged up to 2 years. During this time the curing compound penetrates through the entire ham, drawing out moisture and thereby preserving the ham. The weight of the ham is reduced 18 to 25 percent. The loss of moisture produces a more intense flavor and deepens the color of the ham. They are also referred to as "gourmet hams" or "country cured hams," because of their distinctive flavors or aging. Country hams may also be smoked. Country dry cured hams are saltier and drier than the typical ham you find in food stores. Because of the lengthy curing time, country hams often form a layer of mold on the outside that is not harmful and can easily be scrubbed off. Dry cured country hams may be found in a market near the area in which they are produced but typically they have to be special ordered.
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