living after the death of a baby, living with Autism, living as a family of six, living on our organic homestead, living miserably, hopefully, and with joy, and somedays just living

Posts tagged ‘curing’

No Eggs and Ham

So it’s another food post.

Glazed with Alton Brown's Brown Sugar Mustard Glaze

I am crazy proud of what we have been able to accomplish on the farm this year, considering how little we knew about how to to do when we moved here. We figured we’d learn as we go, and boy have we ever. I’m going to have a gem of a garden this year with the knowledge I learned about planting from this year’s garden. We know how raise baby chicks into dinner size portions.  Plus keep hens (except the 4 we lost) to produce eggs of a much superior quality than supermarket ones. We buy our feed from a local organically certified farmer.  I couldn’t feel better about what we raise and eat.

Yesterday we smoked 3 slabs of bacon, rinsed a ham, baked, and glazed it it.  It looks less like a supermarket ham where they saw all the fronts and backs of the bones off, so it looks less like animal parts and more like magazine hams, and more like a part of a pig. We could have trimmed the bones too, but it cures and cooks the same regardless of whether you leave the ball joint and shank on, and it’s less work not too. It probably looks more like the farm hams my grandparents would have been accustomed too.  My grandfather’s (Gedo’s) family used to raise pigs I should ask him.

As it turns out it could have used a bit more time in the brine as it didn’t penetrate all the way through.  Around the bone was a ring of uncured meat that cooked up like a roast instead of a ham.   Maybe we have something going there?  A hybrid cut of meat to please everyone at the holiday table?  One for those who love a savory roast, and for those who love a salty spiced ham.   In the future we likely need a brine injector to get right to the center of the big hams, so the outer meat doesn’t become overbearingly salty.  Live and learn right?

Our ham does contain some nitrates. You can make it without, but I was too chicken to risk it.  Nitrates inhibit the growth of botulism spores, and while the risk of botulism is low, I wasn’t about to risk one of the lives of my children to do a nitrate free trial.  Because we aren’t making a commercial ham that needs a shelf life, we used the least amount of nitrate cure as possible.   The nitrates also give a ham that pink characteristic, something I didn’t know, but I always wondered why every other meat cooked up brown and ham stayed pink, now I know.    The pinker your ham the more nitrates it contains.

Our ham is a bit drier that a supermarket ham because it’s not plumped up with water injections to keep it moist and to inflate its weight, so you pay more for a cut of meat. It is yum none the less, and more hammy.  It was nothing like the boneless hams that are commercially available which are essentially whole processed deli style hams for you to bake at home. This is the type we used to buy. We’ve come a long way baby!

Since we left the shank on we have two sets of soup bones to make yummy winter soups.

We’ve fed some friends our home raised chickens, and eggs, now I can’t wait for our annual pig roast where we’ll be putting our own young pig on the spit and serving young vegetables from our garden to our friends.

It’s a new life for us next spring.  We plan on adding goats and turkeys, raising about 5 times as many meat chickens, and tripling our laying hens in order to start selling eggs.   Currently with the weather and light cycle we are getting zero to two eggs a day, usually zero.  We currently have none in our cold room, or in the fridge, and I’m out of mayo too, the next two are going to make mayonnaise, not breakfast.   Yup, we have no eggs and ham.

If you like my food/farming blogs I have a post in the works on why we do it all and why it’s worth it .  So stay tuned (maybe subscribed is the blog equivalent to radio tuned?) it should be soonish.

I’m off to enjoy some left overs, yum!