Ham Diagram (Virginia Cooperative Extension)

In January 2014 I flew to Kentucky, rented a car at the Cincinnati airport, and took a tour across the state’s ham belt. My mom rode shotgun. We spent the day rambling along and talking about her father, Big Jim Sullivan, a farmer famous in Eastern Kentucky for producing hams butchered off his sounders of Duroc hogs.

We had a high old time, and spent eight hours driving across the Bluegrass region before finally decamping at an Iraqi restaurant in Lexington where we decompressed over platters of barbecued lamb kebabs.

Last week I was in my kitchen here in New Orleans when I noticed an odd funk in the air. I followed my nose around the room til I found the culprit. One of the country hams I bought on our road-trip had developed a case of mold.

Time to get to cleaning.

How To Clean Mold From A Country Ham

How To Clean Mold From A Country Ham


2 c. Vinegar, white
1 c. Water
1 stiff scrub brush (I ran down to the family dollar and bought a brand new one for the task)


* Place ham in kitchen sink or large basin
* Combine vinegar and water in mixing bowl
* Dip scrub brush in vinegar/water mixture
* Vigorously brush mold from ham
* Be thorough, take your time, scrub the ham with alacrity

How To Clean Mold From A Country Ham

This is how the old ham men of Kentucky would clean the mold from their country hams prior to cooking. There are other methods out there but I can personally attest to this one

Here’s how the USDA defines country ham: COUNTRY HAM, COUNTRY STYLE HAM, or DRY CURED HAM, and COUNTRY PORK SHOULDER, COUNTRY STYLE PORK SHOULDER, or DRY CURED PORK SHOULDER: The uncooked, cured, dried, smoked or unsmoked meat food products made respectively from a single piece of meat conforming to the definition of “ham,” or from a single piece of meat from a pork shoulder. They are prepared by the dry application of salt or by salt and one or more optional ingredients: nutritive sweeteners, spices, seasonings, flavorings, sodium or potassium nitrate, and sodium or potassium nitrite. They may not be injected with curing solutions nor placed in curing solutions. The product must be treated for the destruction of possible live trichinae.

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