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Easter History and Food Series: Why Ham?

Cider and molasses braised ham, recipe below

“For Easter,” writes Mississippi Delta native and cook book author, Kathy Star, “we always had a nice ham, and we always had mustard greens.” Ham on Easter is very traditional among rural folks all over the United States. The historical reason is technological more than culinary. Rural folk slaughtered several hogs in the cold of December to insure they’d have an abundance of food in the house during the holidays which included fresh pork on Christmas and New Years. Because no refrigeration existed, farmers cured ham which is a slow process that lasted from December to April. Thus ham became the available meat source for the Easter meal in most Christian homes across the country. Wilkes County, North Carolina is famous throughout the South for its country ham, particularly those from the smoke house of Clayton Long. From his family comes a cider and molasses braise recipe for cooking ham:

Country Ham Braised in Cider and Molasses Recipe


One 14 to 16 pound cured country ham
1 cup molasses
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 gallon apple cider
3 medium onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, scraped and chopped
2 cups dry bread crumbs mixed with 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

Easter History and Food Series: Potatoes

A Culinary Celebration of Women’s History Month Series: Peru