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TOPIC: Air dried ham

Air dried ham 05 Oct 2011 20:17 #28979

Has anyone much experience with making their own air dried ham. I aspire to the gorgeous air dried hams we ate in france and spain. So far i have one hanging which is due to be opened in two weeks. sneak previews suggest its pretty good.
I have a pig to dispatch next week and want to try another two.
My question really is can i freeze them then salt and hang them at the beginning of next winter or the freezing ruin them. Our summers are really too hot to be able to hang a ham during summer. My current one has been hanging since mid april and is now feeling great. I will peek at it next week.
Thanks for any help.
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Air dried ham 06 Oct 2011 21:46 #395075

  • jennym
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a few years ago i had a go using some pork belly and cheeks off pigs heads which are a delicacy in some part of italy. you can find recipes on the net.
these experiments were successful and they tasted delicious.
i remember marinating the pork belly in wine and herbs and honey and pepper before i cured it, that was really good.
i have forgotten the exact recipes for thos two things, i would have to dig them up from somewhere. could be on the hard drive of my ewaste computer.

this url will give you a recipe for a leg, it is the kind of thing you should be looking for, a traditional method.

there are lots of different recipes around, some are better than others. alot use saltpetre as a guard against botulism but i believe that the quality isnt as good: my opinion only. good hygiene is the way to go. winter is best for hanging and it is best if the climate is dryer than wetter. but most important, the drying space must be very well ventilated. the recipe in the url puts the ideas across.
it doesnt say anything about not using iodised salt, i wouldnt.
it tells you not to use sea salt, i am not sure why, the salt i remember using was the cheap sea salt that you get in packnsave - whwther it is still there or not, i dont know. i remember avoiding iodised salt though.
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Air dried ham 09 Oct 2011 17:12 #395419

  • kai
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air dried - yum! only ever done one. My suggestion it to do the usual plonk in salt for a week, they dry it. Freeze after drying not before.
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Air dried ham 09 Oct 2011 19:04 #395432

  • Kate
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I can't help with your question but I'm very interested in how your ham turns out, I loved jamon serrano when we were in Spain and was considering trying to air dry a ham.

The recipe I've found says
The adoption of new technologies and health requirements has led to improved ham quality, but the experience and know-how of ham experts, in a tradition passed down over the centuries from father to son, continues to be essential.
Preparation of hams is a 4-stage process:
  • Salting and washing
  • Resting period
  • Drying and maturation
  • Cellar phase (bodega)
Salting and washing. After pigs are slaughtered, hams are covered with sea salt for a week or ten days, depending on weight. Temperature of the room needs to be between 1º and 5º C, and relative humidity is usually kept around 80 or 90%. After this period the hams are washed in lukewarm water to remove salt crystals from the surface.
Resting period. Once washed, the hams are kept for 30 to 60 days in rooms at a temperature between 3º and 6º C and a relative humidity of 80 or 90%. During this period the salt penetrates the pieces uniformly, enhancing dehydration and conservation. This process gives hams a significantly denser consistency.
Drying and maturation. During this period hams are moved to a "secadero", or natural drying area, where temperature and humidity are controlled, essentially with ventilation mechanisms. Temperature ranges from 15º to 30º C for the 6 to 9 month drying period, during which hams continue to lose moisture, and "sweating" - dissemination of fat throughout the muscle fibres, which then retain the aroma they have acquired - also occurs. The final flavour and aromas begin to develop during this stage, due to a series of changes that occur in the protein and fat of these hams.
Bodega phase. Hams are hung in cellars, or bodegas, for at least 6 and up to a maximum of 30 months. Temperature may range between 10º and 20º C, and relative humidity, between 60 and 80%. During this phase, hams continue to undergo the biochemical processes initiated during the curing process, enhanced by microbial flora which give them their particular aroma and final flavour.
I'm not sure how I can get the right conditions for the drying phase...

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Air dried ham 10 Oct 2011 15:48 #395580

Thanks Kate
We can manage the drying conditions in winter but not in summer. This little pig has been perfecting these hams for a while now and has been fed on acorns for the last while too. I think i have no choice but to freeze immediately adn then take my chances with the effects of that and salt and dry etc next winter.
My first try we will taste next week. it has been drying only six months but is really nice and firm. I got the process wrong for the first one and hadn't decided to air dry until after i had already brined it. I know it needs to be dry salted rather than brined to air dry but as yet have been unable to work out why (other than the obvious why wet something if your goal is to have it dry!) and against the odds it seems to have worked (fingers crossed).
I will let you know how it tastes next week. We are impatient and will skip phase 4!! perhaps next time we will be more patient at least with one of the two hams.
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Air dried ham 10 Oct 2011 15:52 #395581

by the way, piggy who is due to depart tomorrow is called serrano (jambon de..). His destiny was determined some time ago!
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Air dried ham 10 Oct 2011 16:13 #395586

  • Andrea1
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What breed of pig are you turning into these lovely-sounding hams?
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Air dried ham 11 Oct 2011 08:42 #395706

Saddlebacks!! not quite your traditional iberian pig breed but a pretty good all rounder.
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Air dried ham 12 Oct 2011 12:14 #395991

  • Blueberry
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both the brining and the dry salting serve to pull the water out of the meat - the water in the cells is replaced by salt, which inhibits deterioration of the meat. Obviously, as stated, dry salting makes more sense if the end result is a dry ham. Rubbing dry in a mix of salt and herbs is the traditional method in Switzerland, where this process has been used for centuries to preserve meat - not just ham, but beef, venison and sausages as well. I would not dare to try it in Northland, whereas the mountains of the South make perfect sense - in the winter months! Temperature, relative humidity and airflow have to be carefully watched, and you need to be 150% certain that no insects can get to the meat.
[;)] Blueberry
treading lightly on mother earth
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