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Frequently Asked Questions: (FAQ’s)


What is Dry Curing?
What is aging, why is it important, and how does it affect flavor and shelf life?
What styles of aged, dry cured hams does S. Wallace Edwards and Sons produce?
How should Country Hams be sliced?
What is a City , Sweet or Honey Ham?
What’s the difference between “Cooked” and “Uncooked” hams?
Why is Dry Cured Bacon better?
How about the Edwards’ Sausage Line?
What is the shelf life?
What are the facts on nitrates?

What is dry curing?

Dry curing originated as a meat preservation process long before the days of modern refrigeration. This is done by the inclusion of salts and seasoning as tools of preservation, after which in most cases the meat is smoked for added flavor. It is the artisan’s delicate process of slowly reducing a product's natural inherent moisture content (controlled dehydration) by varying the product's surrounding temperature and humidity over a period of time that extends its shelf life and gives the product its concentrated flavor. (Imagine a grape turning into a raisin!!!)

What is aging, why is it important, and how does it affect flavor and shelf life?

Like wine and cheese, the longer the aging process the more robust the flavor will be, with longer shelf life due to ever decreasing moisture content.

What styles of aged, dry cured hams does S. Wallace Edwards and Sons produce?

  • Edwards Ham – aged 90 days, Cooked and Un-Cooked
  • Virginia Ham – aged 4 to 6 months, Cooked and Un-Cooked
  • Wigwam Ham – aged 10 to 12 months , Cooked and Un-Cooked
  • Surryano Ham – aged 450 + days, Berkshire Breed specific, Certified Humane, Antibiotic Free

How should Country Hams be sliced?

Country Hams are meant to be sliced thin, and can be served either hot or cold.

What is a City , Sweet or Honey Ham?

While the flavor profile of City Ham is most notably different than the more salty Country Ham, the production process of “City” hams take only a few a days, compared to months with a dry cured ham. Additionally, City Hams are produced by a process of increasing the finished moisture content of the ham, whereas a County Ham's moisture content is reduced to achieve an enhanced flavor profile.

  • Bone and Roll – Fully Cooked, Mild Sweet Flavor, Perfect for Sandwiches
  • Tender Smoked – Requires Cooking, Great for Carving Stations
  • Boneless w/ Brown Sugar – Whole or Spiral Sliced, Center of the Plate, Catering, etc.
  • *Slicing*- City Hams are typically sliced thicker than Country Hams in order to achieve a sufficient flavor profile

What’s the difference between “Cooked” and “Uncooked” hams?

Uncooked Hams go through the dry curing and aging process above, and then are packed according to product specifications (bone-in/boneless, whole, sliced, etc.) These products will require additional cook time at the end user level to ensure a quality finished product.
Cooked Hams go through the dry curing and aging process above, with the cooking process completed here at our facility. These products are then packed according to product specifications (bone-in/boneless, whole, sliced, etc). This style of ham can be served either hot or cold depending on menu application.

Why is Dry Cured Bacon better?

“Dry Cured” bacon is produced and cured by applying a topical coating of salt, sugar, spices and curing solution which absorbs into the belly over time. This method reduces the original natural moisture of the pork belly, and thereby enhancing the flavor profile. The bacon is then Hickory smoked upwards of 18 to 20 hours. Like City / Sweet Hams, most all bacons are produced by a method where water, salt spices and cure are added to the product either by injection (pumped) or by brine curing (submersion in a curing solution). These processes add water weight to the bacon and dilute the natural flavor profile. Many producers also use a liquid smoke as an alternative to traditional smoking methods in an effort to increase production speed and reduce product cost. While Edward’s “dry cured” bacon takes nearly 2 weeks to make, cheaper methods can take as short as 2 days. We proudly offer our regular bacon both plain and peppered, as well as our Hickory Smoked Berkshire Breed Specific Certified Humane, Antibiotic Free in various pack sizes.

How about the Edwards’ Sausage Line?

Edwards’ sausages are made from special cuts of pure, fresh, pork and contain no cereals or fillers of any kind. Their unique, farm-fresh flavor comes from a secret blend of natural sage, red and black peppers with a pinch of sugar and salt. Offered in various sizes of links (both smoked and un-smoked) and patties, they can be used for multiple food service applications.

What is the shelf life?

Because of our time honored process of dry curing, aging and smoking, Edwards’ products have a shelf life that’s unique to traditional ham, bacon and sausage products found in the food service industry. Our process not only extends shelf life, but maintains the quality flavor and performance you’re looking for in your operation. Please refer to the chart below for specifics.

Pulpit rock

What are the facts on nitrates?

We use a pinch of nitrates in our dry-cured meats to prevent spoilage and help make the meat even safer for human consumption. There's been much debate on the health factors regarding nitrates, however multiple studies have shown that foods containing nitrate are perfectly safe. Click here if you'd like to learn more about nitrates.

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