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Jul 12 / john.russell

The Molasses Ham is Nearly Done, or is it?

The molasses ham has been air drying for nearly 4 weeks – just 4 more weeks until we can eat it. The recipe suggests that if the ham isn’t dry enough in the center, it can be cooked. Fortunately, with water activity testing, we should know if it isn’t ready, and give it a little more time.

This week the water activity of the molasses ham dropped to 0.94 in the center of the ham. If the aw continues to change at it’s current rate, in 4 weeks the center of the ham should reach below 0.91aw – safe from salmonella, e. coli, and other harmful bacteria. The water activity at a one inch depth is decreasing at a much slower rate, however, and it’s currently over 0.92. As the water activity of the center and exterior of the ham converge, I’m guessing the rate of change will slow down, increasing the drying time.

The center of the prosciutto is already down to 0.90 yet the recipe suggests a 5 to 12 month drying period. Over that time, the ham should loose half of its weight (over the past two weeks, it hasn’t even dropped half a pound). And, if the prosciutto is done, when pierced to the center the ham it will have a cured aroma. (A smell I’ll surely recognize – or not.) As the prosciutto ages, the flavor enhances. I’m trusting the long wait will be worth it.

Download The Food Manufacturer’s Complete Guide to Water Activity—>

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