Sadly, the ham failed.
Now, this is an important part of this blog, because after all, it's only my second ham, and though I've been curing and/or smoking meat for years now, a ham is a much more involved endeavor than the others.
What happened was, near the center of the ham by the bone was a significant area that was clearly undercured or not really cured at all -- a section that had "gone bad." This was something that couldn't be discovered until the ham had been soaked and simmered.
Now, chances are it's fine. Chances are it's edible. There's no putrescent smell indicating rot or anything like that, and this isn't an uncooked meat product. But because I'm not producing food under controlled conditions, and because the initial investment was only $35 or so with less labor than you'd think (mostly you just wait through the seasons), I can't really take the risk. I mean, I've read food safety brochures that tell me if I just excise the affected area, the rest is fine -- but those are brochures written for commercial producers, who a) have been following temperature control guidelines that I haven't been, and b) have a profit margin to watch out for.
What I'm getting at is that this blog entry could have been different, could have said "well, there was this one bad bit I had to cut out, but all in all, A+ work," but I'm not going to play it that way. Somewhere along the way I screwed something up.
What I'm betting is that I didn't drain the liquid runoff often enough during the curing process, and didn't take special pains to make sure the salt equalizes (which is when the salt on the surface is pulled to the core of the ham). Those are two things I was exceptionally careful about the first time around, and because that first ham was such an over the top success -- because my "oh man what if this turns into a rotten hunk of meat, sharkbait in my bedroom, WHAT IF I AM EATEN BY JAWS, WHICH WOULD BE IRONIC SINCE I WAS BORN THE DAY JAWS PREMIERED" fears had been abated, I was more casual about the second ham.
I mean, it could be other things. The dimensions of this ham could be different enough from the first that it just happened to need an extra week in the salt that I didn't give it. The weather was much different in 2009 than in 2008, and that could have something to do with it. But I know there are things I did differently, and that's enough to assume responsibility and ditch the thing.
One of the important things to take away from this is that you don't need to worry about country ham being dangerous, see, because the things that go wrong with it are easily identified long before anyone's serving it to you.