Back on the 6th October 2010 I started a charcuterie experiment. We had just bought a half pig and I decided to attempt an air dried ham.
The leg was boned and and packed in a box of salt with weights applied to compress the joint. Ten days later it was removed from the box of salt, washed in white wine vinegar, wrapped in muslin and hung up in the garage.
Now six months have passed, so I steeled myself and took down the ham. The muslin wrapping had a few patches of grey, green mould but my research indicated that this was to be expected. Apparently black mould is a bad sign but green and white are acceptable and one should rely on their nose. If it smells bad, throw it away. If is smells OK it probably is.
I unwrapped the ham and the surface was covered in a grey, green mould. It didn't look appetising but it smelt just like a commercial air dried ham.
Following the advice I had gleaned from the internet, I washed the ham with white wine vinegar and patted it dry. It certainly looked a lot less scary after that.
I summoned my last reserves of courage, picked up a sharp knife and cut away the outer surface. The smell was amazing. I cut a few thin slivers and sampled it .....
...... it tastes great. The texture near the surface of the ham is quite similar to beef jerky as it is dry and somewhat coarse but as the surface is pared away it becomes more like a prosciutto. The flavour is beautiful, not too salty and definitely comparable with a commercial ham.
All I need to do now is be still breathing tomorrow and I will be able to declare this cure a success.