Ham in pig's bladder/Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

I’ve been learning from the hog all week it seems. It just keeps giving.  Making salami, curing all parts.  Tenderloin and loin and coppa.  I’ve made a lot of fresh sausage and the headcheese is underway, the last of the hams are coming off the cure.

Including this one, a portion of the ham, from the culo, stuffed into the pig’s bladder, which James and I blew up to dry earlier in the week.  Once it had dried in its expanded shape, I reconstituted it in water, cut it open, and sewed up the salted ham inside.  I’ll do my best to tie it up neatly so that it will hang well.

I’ll keep an eye on it, but figure it will cure in about 6 months. What a wonder the pig continues to be.

If you liked this post on pig’s bladder & salumi , check out these other links:

© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2011 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved


30 Wonderful responses to “Whole Hog: Ham Stuffed in Bladder”

  • Linda

    So what does curing it in the bladder add? What will emerge? Fascinated.

    • ruhlman

      it protects the outer layer of the ham, which would otherwise become leathery. the interior once dry cured will be like prosciutto.

  • Austin Val

    Keep it away from the kids during football season.

  • Mantonat

    Does culo mean the same thing in Italian as it does in Spanish? The junior-high kid in me is having a good laugh at that.

  • rob fettig

    I recently missed a great opportunity to get my hands on a bladder and make a ham. I bought a share in a whole Large Black Hog and the bladder along with others tasty bits were tossed. There was no chance to break down the pig with my friends and that saddened me. The butcher that the farmer insisted on using did not get it through his head that I really wanted the whole hog. Plan B is working fine with some bung caps I sewed together from butcher- packer. Hey Mark, do you know where to source bladders?

  • John K.

    Where will it dry? Is there a temp/humidity range that will work best?

  • Casey

    When you make your headcheese try slow roasting rather than boiling. Just place the head in a large roasting pan and cover with tin foil, cook at the lowest your oven will go probably around 250 until tender. Shred and mix in roasting juices. Comes out more pinkish with a higher yeild than a traditional boiling.

  • Kim Graves

    So you get a cured (fermented) ham that is still moist while the salt keeps it from rotting?

  • Christopher

    This makes me want a basement to do all this stuff in… The wife is simply not keen on me hanging this stuff around our tiny abode. Neat post.

  • Natalie Sztern

    This is totally fascinating to me. Mrs.Wheelbarrow you scared me for a second as I had to read your sentence twice; my mind went somewhere entirely different :))

  • former butcher

    Michael, you’re out of control! Ham, pig’s bladder, the peculiar color! What next? It’s like watching a mad scientist at work. And for that we thank you! I would have made some kind of sweet cured (maple) ham (don’t have the facilities for a true dry cured ham), smoked it New England style (corn cob and hardwood), and left it at that.
    Curing it and aging it in a pig’s bladder is way out there. I hope the results are worth the effort. We expect a full report..
    I’m guessing that culo is not the same as chitterlings. From that general area there really isn’t a whole lot of meat, not enough to fill a hog’s bladder. Is it just cured, or is it seasoned as well? I should consult your Charcuterie, now that you have me thinking along these lines.

    • mantonat

      Seems like there are some misunderstandings about the specific salumi in the photo. Although not mentioned, this is most likely a culatello. It’s a whole muscle from the pig’s hind leg. The only offal is the bladder itself, which is used in the same way that intestine is used for encasing sausage (only the culo is kept whole, not ground). So there’s no “chitterling,” not much craziness going on. Mostly just a proscuitto-type ham with the addition of a casing (and absent the leg bone). Here’s some more good info from another good pig guy: http://www.salumicuredmeats.com/salumist/content.htm

      • emilia

        You are correct. The salumi item in the photo is culatello, AKA the heart of the prosciutto.

  • Steve

    Where do you do your curing? How are you able to control temp and humidity during the summer? I would just like to start curing meat, but am worried about starting in the summer in Southern California.

  • sarabeth levine

    I am going to be dreaming about how it will taste! The only problem is the wait. You have opened the eyes of a baker into the world of curing meat. You never fail to amaze me with your quest for doing new and adventurous things with food. Thank you for ahring the experience. Oink Oink!

  • Zack Agopian

    hey ruhlman.. I am in Portland, OR and need to find numerous hog bladders. Any Suggestions?


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