Authentic Southern Smoked Meats and Specialty Foods.

What is a Country Ham?


A country ham is made from the hind leg of a pig and processed using a dry cure.  At Edwards, we hickory smoke our hams to enhance the flavor before we age or ferment our hams.  A country, or Genuine Aged Virginia ham, may have either a long or short shank, or hock.  The long shank ham is typically aged 6 months or longer. Our Edwards Wigwam ham is typically aged 10-14 months, but our Surryano hams are aged 16-24 months. These long shank hams are full flavored and may require soaking before cooking. However, many folks prefer the intense flavor of uncooked, long cured ham and serve it in very thin slices.


Short shank/hock country hams are typically short cured, meaning that hey have been aged less than six months.  The less age the ham has, the less fermentation and aged flavor you’ll get.  Some country hams—but not ours—are only aged 50 days and have a very mild porky salty flavor.  We age our short shank country hams for 4-6 months, giving it mild aged flavor.  A lot of our customers tell us our Virginia Country ham does not taste as salty as others they’ve tried.


We like to serve a short aged, mild country ham sliced 1/8 inch to ¼ inch for frying or water cooked and sliced thin. A long aged Wigwam country ham is most always cooked in water and sliced extremely thin like paper thin.  No cooking is required for the 16-24 month aged Surryano Ham. It’s ready to slice paper thin and serve as a perfect complement to melon slices, olives, Spanish-style tapas…or on bread with olive oil and cheeses such as provolone & mozzarella. For optimal flavor, serve at room temperature.


Sammy Edwards is Digital Marketing Manager for Edwards Virginia Smokehouse. He writes, films and prefers Peppered Bacon on the weekends.