Country ham is almost as American as apple pie and baseball, and it’s been around almost as long as America itself. By the 17th century, most American farmers raised pigs, and the long shelf life of pork and salt made ham a staple in most kitchens nationwide.
Country ham become a more distinct type of ham in 1926 when George A. Hormel & Company pioneered canned ham. The first official reference to country ham appeared in print in 1944, and it alluded to a method of smoking and dry-curing ham in rural regions, like Kentucky, Virginia, and nearby states.
Today, country ham refers to the way our ham is preserved rather than a specific location. Country ham is different than “city ham,” which is wet cured after being injected or submerged with brine. Although country hams are preserved, you still have to cook them before serving. The curing process is key to getting the salty, smoky flavor of country ham, which is what so many Americans love and enjoy eating today.
If you’re looking for a truly patriotic dish to add to your spread this 4th of July, you can’t go wrong with country ham. We have tons of recipes for main dishes, appetizers, desserts, and sides you can try to feed your friends and family when they come over to celebrate America.