Thursday, July 14, 2011


Surry, Virgina. July in eastern Virginia, it's 94 degrees, the atmosphere is nearly liquid. Inside Sam Edwards' smokehouse the air is perpetual hickory. The wood perfume leaks out of the concrete smoking chambers and drifts down the halls, entering every orifice of the building. The walls are bronzed by it, the pine ham racks, some decades old, are nearly black. Hours after my visit, hundreds of miles away, I still smell the dark scent on my skin. 

A few pictures from Sam Edwards' smokehouse.

 Sam Edwards III.
Numerical coincidence: he's also the third generation to run his family ham business.

Salted hams stacked on pallets.

They'll salt here for three to four weeks.

The salt makes the floor look like January in Michigan. Sam calls this the "winter room."

Mold is a sign of age. Customers used to request hams with mold still on. Today it's washed off.

Two full pine racks, side by side. Each is about four feet square, six and a half feet high. Once a ham is hung on the rack after salting it spend the rest of its life there—up to two years, sometimes a little more.

The toe end of hoof-on, bone-in Berkshires, aged for over two years. These are the hams I'm ordering for this fall.

1 comment:

goaty said...

I request that you begin to write about beer, wine, and spirits. I realize that this is a zmo journal, and as such, it may not be the appropriate forum for products that you do not sell. However, I find this argument unpersuasive, for largely selfish reasons. Also, food and drink go together right? Sure!
Please and thanks.