So how wide spread is the impact of such a terroir on curing great dry cured country hams, bacon and sausage? I think the really special terroirs (producing the best product) can be a very small region as conditions change dramatically in Virginia from east to west or north to the south. Edwards is located just 6 miles from Jamestown Virginia where the first Country Hams were cured by the English settlers and the American Indians. So by dumb luck I think my grandfather started his dry cured Country ham, bacon and sausage business in one of the best spots (terroirs) in America!
There are terroirs that are very large and able to cure meat…but can those areas develop the special flavor profiles our customers are looking for? I heard a presentation made by Dave Arnold, who is a food enthusiast with a degree in molecular something from Harvard, about the regions of the world that cure meat. He pointed out on a globe the northern and most southern latitudes around the world from Asia ( where the first dry cured hams were cured by the over 3000 yrs ago to Europe all the way to North America where the art of curing meat has flourished prior to refrigeration or the industrialization of curing meat. It was at least 25% of the earths surface.
The conclusion is if the curing process is applied too far north or too far south the latitudes he pointed out, the environment would not be conducive to curing meat because it is too cold, or too hot, to dry or too humid or it would be the wrong bacteria found naturally to properly develop the flavor that people would like (of course this was before refrigeration or temperature controlled rooms). But just because the area can cure meats does not mean it is made for curing the best country ham, bacon or sausage.
In the country ham world we think of the southeastern part of the U.S. as being the hot bed of country ham producers. But which areas in the southeast make the best hams? Buy country ham, bacon and sausage and decide for yourself but we are kind of partial to Edwards. Of course there are many other factors in curing great country hams, bacon and sausage i.e. curing techniques, ingredients, breed of hog, how they are raised, what they are fed etc. I will address those factors in the months to come.