The leg section is the source of fresh and smoked hams. Hams are either brine (wet) - cured or dry-cured and may also be smoked. Most hams are brine-cured, which involves injecting or soaking the meat with a solution of water, salt, sugar, and sodium nitrite and then smoking it.
Country-cured hams are typically dry-cured in salt, then smoked over fragrant hardwoods, and then aged at least six months. A mold usually forms during the aging process, which must be scraped off and washed away before cooking.
Prosciutto, a golden pink, thinly sliced Italian ham, is dry-cured but not smoked. Eaten uncooked, prosciutto is usually added to dishes as a final touch or served as an appetizer with melon or figs. Westphalia ham is made from pigs fed with acorns in the Westphalia forest of Germany. After curing, the meat is smoked slowly over a mixture of beech wood and juniper wood, producing a very dark brown, dense ham with a light smoky flavor. Black Forest ham is similar.
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