Category: Heritage Pork


Glazed Heritage Ham

Our Guide For The Perfect Ham

Glazed Heritage Ham
Honey Mustard Glazed Heritage Ham.

A beautifully cured ham is one of the most convenient, delicious, and versatile additions to any menu. Because cured hams are fully cooked they are able to be enjoyed hot or cold. This allows for easy entertaining while still offering a delicious and impressive centerpiece. Weighing about 11 pounds each, one bone-in ham will serve 18 guests, or as many as 26 when prepared as part of a family style meal.

A cured hams ability to stay fresh in your refrigerator longer then other meats also adds to its convenience and economic value. When sourced thoughtfully from responsible producers, cured ham is a sustainable alternative to deli meats and other daily convenience foods.

Our heritage hams are expertly prepared by the Fantasma family curemasters and have won numerous awards for their flavor and texture. The most important ingredient in our hams is time– both time spent on the farm where our heritage breeds are allowed to grow and mature naturally, and time in the curehouse, where they are patiently cared for and aged.

Our heritage hams are perfectly balanced in flavor and boast a rich buttery texture with a sweet and savory finish. All of our pork is from pasture raised, hormone and antibiotic free animals. The pigs are raised with care using traditional methods guaranteed to produce the very best tasting meat and are processed at a Certified Humane facility.

Our breeds include Berkshire, Red Wattle, Duroc, Gloucestershire Old Spots, Large Black, and Tamworth. Each heritage breed boasts its own flavor profile, and we encourage you to try them all.

Follow our guide bellow for the perfect ham served hot or cold, and leave a comment with your favorite ham tips!

To Serve Warm

Gently warm the ham in a 325° oven with at least 1/2 cup of water, wine, or stock in the pan. You can cover the ham with foil to help ensure it doesn’t dry out. Using a meat thermometer, remove your ham from the oven at 130-135°. Remember, your ham is already cooked; you’re just warming it through.

If you are planning to use a glaze, wait until the last 15-30 minutes of cooking before applying. Any earlier and you’ll risk burning the sugars in the glaze before the ham has time to warm. Heat your ham low and slow, but don’t be afraid to crank it up at the end to get that nice crispy, caramelized bubbling glaze, always being sure to keep a watchful eye the whole time!

PRO TIP: Allow your ham to rest outside of the fridge before cooking. A room temperature ham will require less total cooking time resulting in a juicier ham! And don’t forget– always rest your meat before carving.

To Serve Cold

Our Maple Sugar Cured hams are fully cooked and ready to enjoy. If you are planning to serve your ham at room temperature simply allow it to rest covered on the counter until the initial chill from the fridge has subsided.

PRO TIP: Left over ham will keep in your fridge for 3 weeks, or it can be frozen for up to 6 months.

The History of Ham

Vintage Ham Ad from 1922
Vintage American Ham Ad, Morris & Company; 1922

The history of ham traces back to ancient traditions. One of the most important prerequisites for the development of civilization was the preservation and storage of food. Drying, smoking, and curing were some of the earliest methods discovered by the ancients. The advent of curing enabled cities, people and cultures to flourish.

The preserving of pork leg as ham has a long history. Many credit the Chinese as being the first people to record curing raw hams, while other have cited the Gauls. It cannot be argued though that it was certainly a well-established practice by the Roman period. Cato the Elder wrote extensively about the “salting of hams” in his De Agri Cultura tome around 160 BC.

The popularity of ham can also be traced to the producers’ geographic location. The conditions required for curing meat need to be such that it is not so cold that the ham freezes, unable to cure, or too warm causing the ham to spoil. The result is distinct areas around the world renowned for their particular hams. Italian prosciutto and Spanish Serrano, as well as American country ham from Kentucky and Virginia are all located on what can be described as the worlds Ham Belt— a geographic area bound by latitude and historically producing the world’s most revered hams. With the advent of technology, climate control and the mechanization of many of our food production methods geographic location has become less important for the production of ham, but these original ham centers are still prized as being the finest ham producing regions today.

Ham remains one of the most consumed pork products in the world. On average Americans eat 193 sandwiches a year, with ham being by far the most popular choice. The curing process for dry cured ham begins by rubbing the fresh ham with salt and sometimes sugar, spices, and nitrates. Italian prosciutto and Spanish Serrano hams are made with a pure salt cure and no added nitrates or nitrites. Some American hams are also nitrate free. When used, nitrates ensure a pink color and cured flavor in a short amount of time, and provide some anti-microbial benefits as well. Nitrates are not a modern addition to the curing process; they have been added to hams in the form of saltpeter for hundreds of years and in the form of impure salts for millennia.

Meat naturally contains a small amount of nitrates, which allow it to take on a beautiful color on its own. The longer a ham is aged, the fewer added nitrates are necessary. Many American hams are cured with brown or white sugar in addition to salt. The sugar is not added for sweetness, but rather to soften the harshness of the salt and the toughening effects of nitrates. Red and black pepper is sometimes added as well, lending some flavor but also discouraging bugs from attacking the ham. Machines are typically used to rub the cure into factory-produced ham, but as any ham artisan will tell you, the hand of the skilled salter is important.

Whatever your ham of choice, join us in celebrating the rich history and tradition of this ancient food.

Fun Ham Facts

Almost every country in the world produces Hams. Here are of some of the better known hams of the world: prosciutto, Westphalian, Parma, Smithfield, Virginia, Kentucky, Country, Canned, Bayonne, York, Mainz, Prague, Asturias, Toulouse, Dijon, Black Forest, Bohemian, Serrano, presunto, Bradenham, Estremadura, Prazska sunks, and szynka.

-Some ham experts prefer ham made from the left leg of a pig, believing it to be more tender. This idea came about after observing that a pigs scratch themselves with their right leg, engaging those muscles more and deducing that the more muscled right leg would be tougher.

-Pigs are not native to America; Hernando de Soto is credited with bringing the first 13 hogs to the New World in 1525.

-American “city” hams and “country” hams: “City” hams are processed in a wet cure or brine and typically smoked, not aged. “Country” hams are dry-cured and aged, producing a stronger flavor that is saltier and drier.

-On the Apollo 13 mission, the crew managed to create a functioning CO2 filter out of duct tape and glazed ham.

-Due to a Civil War surrender agreement, Virginia Baked Ham was given that name to insult the residents of Virginia.

-Chicago artist Dwight Kalb made a statue of Madonna from 180 pounds of ham.

For more information about hams please visit

 

S. Wallace Edwards and Sons

Cooking Issues

FoodReference.com 

National Ham Council

Heritage Pork Taste Chart

Pork Breed Histories and Heritage Pork Taste Chart

TasteChartPork

Berkshire [Fatty] smooth and creamy flavor

Berkshire pork is elegant, luscious and smooth. The meat boasts a round and buttery flavor that melts on the tongue.

Red Wattle [Fatty] flavorful, earthy, minerally, bold

Red Wattle meat is charmingly inconsistent and can be earthy, vegetal and herbaceous with a hint of cinnamon. Its expressive porky flavor is concentrated and bold.

Duroc [Lean] clean, mild flavor, lean

Duroc meat is clean and crisp. Its taste and texture are polished and easy on the palate. Duroc pork is a standard, not to fatty, not too strong pig.

Old Spot [Very Fatty] milky, nice marbling and fat ratio

Old Spot has the creamiest taste of any of the pig breeds. The Old Spot tastes like a tour of the fruit orchard where they famously grazed in old England!

Tamworth [Very Lean] balanced flavor, sweet, very lean

Tamworth is the leanest of the pork breeds that we sell, but still has incredible tenderness and flavor. It is rootsy like the woods it ranges on and has a clean finish.

We had a great time taste testing these breeds and hope we have come up with some words that truly describe the characteristics of the pork. We would love to hear your thoughts!!! Please send us your taste comments to info@HeritageFoodsUSA.com so that we can add your words to the list!

Taste the difference with one of our breed variety packs!

 

Slate tasting notes

Heritage Breed Tasting Chart!

This Wednesday the team at Heritage skipped breakfast and didn’t bring in any snacks to work so that their pallets would be truly ready to uncover the words that describe the tastes of the various breeds of pork that we sell. Italians and French people have no trouble finding words to describe the un-describable. In the U.S. the wine people have it down but for fruits and vegetables and meat it’s hard to find words to explain what our mouths and pleasure centers are experiencing….

Patrick Martins, Founder & President

It’s the Meat…

Want a hot recipe? Here’s one: choose a lovely, well-sourced piece of meat — from a merchant that you trust, sourced from a farm that you know, and a breed you have come to love, and add fire. Et voila! There’s your recipe. Just remember, the fire is the constant, the meat is the variable. And don’t forget where it came from, so you can do it again.

Craig Good’s Great Livestock

So you’ve enjoyed a grilled heritage Angus steak and have savored the buttery flavor of our Old Spot bacon, but now you want to know more about the origin of these finger-licking cuts? You may already know that Heritage Foods USA works with independent family farmers across the U.S. who serve as the foundation of Heritage Foods USA’s mail order division and supply America’s top restaurants with premium cuts of pork and beef- but who are the masterminds responsible for prolonging the blood lines of the exclusive breeds Heritage Foods promotes? Wonder no more! Introducing one of our hog and beef farmers: Craig Good.

Craig and Amy Good
Craig and Amy Good of Good Farms

For more than 50 years, Craig Good has worked with livestock at Good Farms, located on the northern edge of the Kansas Flint Hills in Olsburg, Kansas. Historically, this area was known as the last vestige of the Tall Grass Prairie- a fertile strip of grasslands that supported untold numbers of bison in our country’s formative years. Given its history, Craig’s father, Don, bought the farm in 1961. Don quickly became a nationally recognized authority on beef cattle – an honor that has been passed down to Craig through hard work and close attention to genetic refinement. Early on, Craig took an interest in the family business, and after graduating with a degree in Animal Science from Kansas State in 1975, he began working for a pure-bred swine breeder. In 1981, Craig and his wife, Amy, decided to move back to his childhood home to carry on the legacy of his family’s farm.

The Good Farm is very diverse – raising various crops, 100% Angus cattle, and several heritage breeds of hogs. The farm’s modest size allows the couple to focus on quality, rather than quantity,  through the enhancement of their livestock’s genetics. Working with Heritage Foods USA allows the Goods to make a living without converting into an industrial-sized farm.

“We feel that true quality is achieved by working with detail and care in breeding our hogs, not just cranking numbers and pounds off the farm,” Craig explains.

Good Farm’s size offers other benefits, too. Recently, Craig had the opportunity to experiment with the diets of his pure-bred Duroc hogs. Instead of the traditional feed, oats, Craig tried feeding these special swines a meal of dried cranberries and plums. Not only did he receive a positive response from the chefs to which he supplies pork (the Duroc’s normally tame fat became much more fragrant), but the pigs enjoyed this tasty change to their daily diets, as well. This experiment  is just one example of how Heritage Foods USA and its farmers are finding creative ways to revolutionize the food industry.

Craig and Pigs
Craig Good and his Duroc Hogs

The Goods are selective with their breeding, and are working to create the best possible future generation of swine. In addition to the Duroc, Craig and Amy raise a small number of Old Spot and Spot Rock pigs – a cross between Old Spot and Duroc pigs. Previously, the couple raised Yorkshire hogs as well, but decided to focus their attention on the Duroc breed due to their rapid growth rates, great muscle quality, and pure, yet mild flavor.

During a recent visit to his farm, Craig told the Heritage Foods USA team that his favorite thing about his farm is being surrounded by his pigs.

“I’ve loved pigs ever since I was in 4H, back when I was thirteen years old. Some people don’t like pigs but I do… I like to think there’s a really good relationship between us and our pigs.”

Craig and Amy feel a strong responsibility to our nation as farmers.

“We are proud of our place in the farm economy and hope that we can continue to serve the producers that have been true to us over the years,” Craig says. “We feel that the family farm has been a true asset to America and we strive to work together with our fellow producers to remain a viable part of the future. We have a strong commitment to produce pigs that are of the highest quality possible.”

 

An Intro to Heritage Pork Breeds

The core of Heritage Foods USA’s mission is to preserve rare heritage breeds. We work hard to support family farms that raise their animals on natural diets and without the aid of antibiotics, which are common on industrial farms.

Red Wattle Pig
A Red Wattle pig raised by Larry Sorell at Lazy S. Farms

 

Heritage pork is sourced from  Certified Humane Red Wattle or Six-Spotted Berkshire stock. Some of our farmers, however, also raise other rare breeds – Duroc, Old Spot, Large Black, and Tamworth – which are available for purchase by request, or as porterhouse chops and cured hams.

Sorell_Sow_BreedBerkshire
A Berkshire sow with one of her piglets

Berkshire meat is elegant, luscious and smooth. The streaks of fat that run through Berkshire meat produces a round, buttery flavor that melts on the tongue. The firm and substantial texture of Berkshire meat was so cherished by the British monarchy that they exported the breed as far as Japan, where it is called Korobuta.

As seen above, the Red Wattle is the only pig left in the world that still has a wattle hanging from its jowl. Red Wattle meat is charmingly inconsistent; its expressive porky flavor is concentrated and even a little racy. Originating in the South Pacific, the Red Wattle pig populated the backyards of New Orleans during the 18th and 19th centuries where it was bred to stand up to the strong and flavorful Creole cuisine. These gentle red hogs are renowned  foragers: when allowed to roam, their meat develops earthy, herbaceous traces of the vegetation within their locale.

One of Craig Good's Duroc hogs
One of Craig Good’s Duroc hogs

Duroc meat is clean and crisp. Its taste and texture are polished and easy on the palate. Duroc pork is a standard – not too fatty, not too lean, not too strong – but is certainly more flavorful than its factory farmed cousins. In fact, Duroc genetics were used in the foundation of the pig industry, which gained momentum in the 20th century.

Tamworth meat is robust and gutsy, and is the leanest of the heritage pork breeds- making it an excellent source of bacon and jowl. Its balanced flavor is the pork equivalent of a red beer. Despite its presence on the Threatened species list, the Tamworth is a hearty, strong, resilient animal – making it an excellent candidate for the growing urban farm movement around the United States.

A Gloucestershire Old Spot sow from Craig Good's farm
A Gloucestershire Old Spot sow from Craig Good’s farm

 

Large Black and Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs are listed as critically endangered by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Along with the Red Wattle, they are the rarest pig breeds that Heritage Foods sells.

Originating in the Berkley Vale of Gloucestershire during the 1800s, the GOS was bred to lounge around in the orchards of England, where its sole responsibility was to clean up fallen fruit.  The breed became rare after World War II, when the shift to intensive pig production reduced interest in grazing pigs. Due to its supreme laziness, GOS meat is very delicate – even its fat is edible and milky. Old Spots carry a distinct layer of backfat and marbling within their meat, making them the bacon pig of choice for many.

The Large Black is a favorite of farmers who appreciate the breed’s intellect and docility. Its strength, hardiness, and ability  to forage make it a valuable asset for pasture-based farming. The breed is native to southwestern England and gained popularity in the 1800’s as farmers began to see that the animal could easily turn poor-quality feed into large quantities of high-quality meat. The Large Black’s physical characteristics – its dark skin and large ears – make it stand out in terms of appearance and efficiency: its dark skin protects it from sunburn during long hours of grazing, and its long ears shield its eyes from dirt while foraging. Large Blacks are also known for their lean consistency; however, they lack the excess back fat found in the GOS.

Page 4 of 512345