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Aug 26 / john.russell

Molasses Ham Done

Just three months after starting the dry cured ham project, the molasses ham is done. The water activity of the center of the ham is clearly in the safe zone at 0.907aw while closer to the exterior the water activity is down to 0.893.

So, I went to the grocery store and picked up some cheese, crackers, and apples to serve with the thin sliced cured ham.

Here’s a picture of the ham before it was sliced.

Notice the tough leathery exterior, but the cross section pic below looks much more appetizing.

And, the crew at Decagon seemed to love it.  After removing the outer skin, the meat inside was pink but still carried the hint of smoke. The flavor of molasses was very subtle, but the reports from my cohorts were very favorable.

The ham was cold smoked more than two months ago at 60 degrees F.   “Is it cooked,” someone asked. “Nope,” I responded, “It’s raw and it’s been hanging at 60 degrees for more than two months.” The faces were squeamish at first, but immediately brightened after eating the ham.

2 Comments

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  1. Jay Smucker / Aug 29 2011

    Looks like fun. I like to keep up with your blog for a number of reasons. One the R&D of meat products is what we do all the time. Understanding the science behind what we do is facinating and helpful. Beyond the science what you do as a company is an inspiration as well. As a small meat company with about 30 employees we too look for ways to include, encourage, and inspire each of them. Recently we served subs for lunch using only meat we produced at the plant. Not a big deal but it helps to foster employee pride in what they do. By the way, we manufacture jerky and wouldn’t think of sending a batch out without testing AW.

  2. john.russell / Aug 29 2011

    Thanks Jay – I appreciate your comments. It is fun to include the group. We’ve worked with water activity for years – now we’re actually using it in the process of making foods. In other words, doing what our faithful customers, like you, have been doing all along.

    In the case of this dry cured ham, we wouldn’t have known the ham was ready to eat without knowing the water activity. The recipe I used suggests the ham should hang to dry for seven weeks after salt curing and cold smoking. According to the recipe, if the ham isn’t dry through to the center, it can still be cooked. Fortunately I knew how to check to see if the ham was dry enough. I actually let it hang for 9 weeks rather than 7 to bring the water activity through the ham to below 0.91.

    Thanks again Jay for the encouragement and nice thoughts.
    John

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