Virginia Ham

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A specialty ham known as a "country ham" with origins in Virginia. It is a ham similar to the Smithfield ham that is dry cured and sent through a process of slow smoking and aging that adds a notable rich flavor. Most often the hams are salted heavily, smoked slowly, and kept in a controlled environment for aging that may be longer than a year. The hams are lean and are most often smoked over hickory and applewood. They were originally produced from pigs that were raised on a diet of peanuts and acorns. Today they are mostly grain fed. When preparing to eat this type of ham, the chef must thoroughly cleanse the ham before cooking it in order to remove any mold that has formed due to the aging process. The ham may also need to be soaked in water to remove some of the saltiness that occurred as it was cured. The hams can be store from one to two months without much moisture evaporation. Longer storage may toughen the meat as the moisture is lost.

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