Too Dry to Dry?
As time goes on, the two hams continue to dry, the prosciutto at a faster pace than the molasses ham.
The prosciutto is coated in a thin layer of lard and cheese cloth, while the molasses ham is exposed to the air. The weight loss for each ham has been minimal since they were hung in our temperature and humidity controlled refrigerator 4 weeks ago.
The recipe suggests ideal conditions for ham storage during the drying period of 60% to 70% humidity and 60 degrees F. Our faithful reader Stooxie commented that dry air can cause the skin of the ham to harden, not letting moisture escape.
While doing the water activity testing, I noticed the skin on the molasses ham felt slightly firmer, though the water activity readings continued to lower at a fairly regular rate. After realizing I’d neglected to monitor the humidity on a regular basis, I checked to find that the air in the fridge had gotten down to about 40% humidity. I added a container of sodium chloride solution to the fridge, bring the humidity up to 60% which it has maintained since.
A Google search has lead me to pictures of prosciutto hanging by the femur near the knee socket, the meat drooping like a large tear drop. There is something classy and alluring about these hams. Alternatively, our hams were cut short, through the femur bone, making them boxy rather than tear dropped. They are hung by string as shown below.
As I approach the fridge, my senses are delighted by the aroma of smoked hickory. And, after feeling the moist, smooth, and leathery skin of the molasses ham, my finger tips continue to hold onto its inviting scent. Though I did let the humidity in the fridge drop for a time, I’m confident the hams are still in good shape and will dry as expected.