Phases of Production

The main stages for making cooked ham:

  • 1. Selection of fresh pork: In our plant, fresh legs, bone-in and cut for cured ham, are selected according to rigorous criteria as well as hygiene and quality inspections. Among the standards required of the raw material, it is important that there be the right amount of fat, as the fresh leg should not be too lean. The fat should have a high (firm) consistency and a rosy color. In fact, this is the sign of quality, mature pork and, therefore, of meat with high nutritional values. Legs which do not meet these standards are discarded and returned to the supplier.

  • 2. Deboning: Can be done by machine or by hand, the latter method being more suitable for quality products. In our company deboning is still done manually by our specialized staff according to a special technique which best preserves the integrity of the leg during the process.

  • 3. Injection: The stage in which the meat is flavored. Brine (a mixture of water, salt, natural spices, etc.) is infused into the meat. Because we don’t add thickeners (artificial or natural) during cooking, much of the injected brine seeps out through a natural osmosis phenomenon. Otherwise the brine would remain inside the product, reducing the quality of the cooked ham. 

  • 4. Churning: Legs containing brine are put into stainless steel containers. Thanks to an alternation of rest and massage phases in a machine called the “churn”, protein is extracted from the meat in order to give the finished product the right compactness. The durations of the rest and massage phases as well as the intervening intervals vary significantly according to the desired quality of the finished product. In our original procedure, the product goes through long periods of rest that alternate with short massage cycles which bring originally lower standard legs to a high standard. The churning phase of our “unhurried, unparalleled” method lasts approximately 4-5 days, compared to the 12-24 hours normally required at present. This very slow massage allows the leg to stay anatomically complete during production.

  • 5. Stamping: The meat is put into a press in order to give the leg the familiar shape we see in the serve-over counter. Vein injected San Marino Cooked Ham has a unique, patented shape.

  • 6. Cooking: The meat is cooked by steam. The hams are closed in presses lying on trolleys, which are rolled into an oven. In some cases the ham is smoked before cooking is completed by steam.

  • 7. Packaging and Sterilization: After cooking, the presses are cooled, the skin is branded with the product name, and the cooked leg is vacuum packed in a multi-layered aluminum bag. In order to increase the product’s preservation time, the cooked ham can undergo one of two types of thermal treatment: PASTEURIZATION or STERILIZATION. With pasteurization the time to expiration is shorter: 3-4 months. With sterilization, which is the treatment we use, the time to expiration reaches 6 months. After sterilization, the product is stored in a cool room.

  • 8. Storage: After the product has been cooled, it is packaged in cardboard boxes and stored in a cool room. After a few days it is ready to be shipped.

Our original method of production, which we call... continue

Nowadays almost any flavor can be reproduced chemically... continue

All our products are made exclusively with fresh pork legs... continue

Cooked ham can be made using fresh whole legs or pieces of legs... continue

In order to make our cooked hams, we don?t use nitrates... continue

All our cooked hams are completely hypoallergenic... continue

San Marino cooked hams are free of thickeners... continue