Before refrigeration many Missourians cured hams and pork bellies as a method of preserving food. Country cured hams are not cooked, just preserved.  The combination of salt, sugar and other spices preserves the meat without refrigeration. Country cured hams may bring back fond memories for older people but may be an acquired taste for younger people. Smoke houses were a common fixture on many farms and rural homes prior to refrigeration. The smoke houses were not used to actually cook the meat but to give the preserved hams a smoke flavor.

Ham selection and the correct amount of cure applied is key to your success when curing hams. That is why the Cedar County MU Extension is offering a “Country Cured Ham Workshop” for youth and adults. Those attending will learn how the curing and aging process works, in addition participants will learn how to smoke and prepare a country cured ham for exhibition or a meal. Many youth have opportunities to exhibit cured hams at local, district and state fairs during the summer. A country cured ham makes an excellent 4-H/FFA project and a great meal for everyone.

The workshop will be on Tuesday Jan.11, 2022.  Those registering for the workshop should choose a time that works for them; 4 p.m., 5 p.m. or 6 p.m.  Everything will be supplied, and each registrant will leave with a ham ready to hang in an unheated building with good ventilation so the curing process can take place. Participants will also be given instructions on the aging process and how to smoke the ham for flavor.

To register for the classes, or for more details, contact the Cedar County Extension office at 417 276-3313 or visit the office in person. You can also register online at:  Registration is due December 23rd.

University of Missouri Extension programs focus on the high-priority needs of Missourians to improve lives, communities and economies by providing relevant, responsive and reliable educational solutions. MU Extension programs are open to all. More information on this topic is available online at