Cut of meat consisting of the thigh of a hog, usually preserved through a curing process that involves salting and smoking or drying. In addition to preserving the meat, curing gives it additional flavour. Sugar or honey and spices are sometimes added to further enhance flavour. Produced throughout the Old World except where forbidden by religious edict (principally by observant Muslims and Jews), ham became a favoured food on farms of North America. The distinctive qualities of hams of various regions of the world result from unique combinations of hog-raising and meat-processing techniques. Virginia hams, for example, are cut from razorback hogs fed on peanuts and peaches and smoked over apple- and hickory-wood fires. Ham is a source of high-grade animal protein, thiamine, and iron.
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