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Is it safe to eat moldy country ham?

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Baked Ham

© 2006 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Question: Is it safe to eat moldy country ham?
Moldy country ham is safe. Find out why.
Answer:

Is it safe to eat moldy country ham?

Country hams develop an unattractive layer of mold during the curing process. This is normal and an indication of proper aging, much like fine cheeses. The mold resulting from the aging must be removed before the meat is cooked.

Country-cured hams are cured with a mixture of salt, sodium nitrate (saltpeter) or nitrite and sometimes sugar and other spices. The salt draws out the moisture, leaving an enviroment inhospitable to bacteria growth. The nitrate or nitrite not only protects against botulinum bacteria, but also gives the ham its deep rosy pink color. Sugar is a tenderizer, and additional spices give various corresponding flavors.

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Ham Photo © 2006 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.
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