Disclosure: While this is not a sponsored post, it does contain links to recipes I prepared for Petit Jean Meats who provided me with compensation. All opinions expressed are definitely, and always will be, my own.

Ham is just as traditional at Easter as turkey at Thanksgiving. Have you ever wondered why?

  • Temperature

Simply put, it’s because it’s in season. Now you may be saying, “But ham is available year-round.” Yes, that’s true. Now. But that wasn’t always the case.

When I was a little girl, I remember my grandfather slaughtering one or more hogs each fall and then smoking the hams in his little smokehouse. Oh the smell…so wonderful. But why the fall? 

Traditionally before refrigeration as we know it, slaughtering was done in the fall when the temperatures were much cooler. The cold temperatures allowed the meat to be properly butchered and prepared for storage before it could go bad.

  • Taste

Before slaughter in autumn, hogs would be fed apples and acorns which would really improve the flavor of the meat they would ultimately provide. According to Jude Becker of Becker Lane Organic Farm:

The tradition of acorn-fed pork goes back millennia,” explains Becker. The oak nut was a diet staple because the pigs roamed and rooted about for acorns in the forests of Italy and Spain. An acorn diet is today best known as what makes the prized and pricey Jamón Ibérico of Spain so succulent.

The hams were allowed to cure and would often be the only remaining selections left after the cold winter months and the other less stable cuts had been eaten. In addition, it was much more readily available and more popular than lamb, the traditional Easter choice for Jews who do not eat pork.

I recently shared a delicious ham preparation, Ham ala Aquavit, over on PJEats, Petit Jean Meats recipe blog. This is a traditional Swedish Christmas Ham preparation which submerges the ham completely in a seasoned ham broth and oven simmers it at 200 degrees for about 2 hours. 

Y’all this makes an amazingly tender and moist ham. You really have to give it a try.

ham aquavit 680 petit jean close w mustard herbs

While you are visiting PJEats, check out the other ham preparations and, especially, check out all the ways you can use those ham leftovers. And you know you’ll have leftovers!

Ham was also the topic of my THV11 This Morning segment this week.