It was a cold, rainy day in San Francisco, but the Moscone Center was bustling with life and excitement for the abundance of specialty foods on display. There was no shortage of delectable and consumer-friendly meats and cheeses, but some companies demonstrated not just a commitment to flavor, but to humane and sustainable livestock treatment as well. Lady Edison Pork was one such company that touts tradition, quality, and funky flavor. I spoke with Sam Suchoff, Owner of the North Carolina-based company, who described for me just what makes Lady Edison Pork so special, and how he developed his brand’s distinct taste.
“I’ve been working with the co-op called the North Carolina Natural Hog Growers Association for the past eight years. Two years into it, I started working with a fella named Rufus Brown who runs Johnson County Ham,” explained Sam. “I would send him a couple hams at a time and he would cure them out. He learned from his father, his father learned from his uncle—they cure out these hams the way they’ve been curing them out for generations.”
Sam realized that the Johnson County Ham team age their ham for longer than most, so Lady Edison followed suit—the ham I was lucky enough to sample had been aged for 18 months.
Animal lovers can rest easy, knowing Lady Edison Pork employs pig-friendly practices. All of the company’s pigs are raised outdoors, eating the company’s own raised and milled, non-GMO soy and corn for supplemental feed. In the great outdoors the pigs can roam around, eating grubs, black walnuts, and whatever they can find.
The ham I tasted knocked my socks way off—its unique flavor imparts a delectable saltiness and a good-funky taste, which sounds crazy, but I assure you it’s, shall we say, the bomb. Sam explained to me that the flavor is thanks to the aging process.
“This ham definitely brings the funk,” Sam emphasized. “It’s aged in the summer room—basically a warm, humid room, and so you get a lot of protein breakdown so the flavor is real smooth, rich, and deep. Country Ham tends to be saltier than others, like a Spanish ham or Italian ham, but you don’t notice it with the Country Ham just because the base flavor of the ham itself is what lingers, so after the salt is gone, you’re still tasting the ham.”
For more exclusive interviews like this, keep reading Deli Market News.