I believe my first post on this blog was about home-cured (bedroom loft-cured) country ham. At the time, my second country ham (I've previously done corned ham, many pork bellies, and several lamb hams) was hanging from the loft, and had been for some months. It's nearly a year later, and I've just taken it down.
This ham has cured for about 19 months, about 16-17 of which was spent air-curing (the early period being spent under refrigeration) -- which makes it twice as old as the previous ham. I suspect this is a significant age difference -- that the flavor will be more developed, but also saltier. Though I used dried New Mexico red chile in the cure for this second ham, I don't think it will be noticeable, except maybe, possibly, in the fat -- the inclusion of black pepper or chile in country ham recipes, real ham recipes, is really for anti-pest purposes more than flavor. But we'll see!
This time of year I can't get a fresh ham to start a new one, so the fishing net duct-taped to my loft railing sways, empty, in the master bedroom. Who knows what the next ham may be like! Maybe I'll use mesquite and cocoa powder to enhance earthy notes, or start with a wetter cure heavy on fresh garlic. For now, it will take some days just to discover this ham and see what it's like. My birthday's imminent. I aim to have some biscuits, some cold fried chicken, a slice of ham, and some good whiskey.