Country Ham Curing: Darden Ham

Food & Community

Hams in the smokehouse at Darden's County Store in Smithfield.
Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff
Hams in the smokehouse at Darden's County Store in Smithfield. Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff

The Darden family has been curing and selling country hams the old-fashioned way since the 1950s, at their country store in Smithfield, Virginia, following traditions Tommy Darden learned from his father. Their family also runs a 600-acre working farm. About 1000 hams are salt-cured, smoked with hickory and apple wood, and aged to perfection, along with bacon and side meat. We visited the store to sample mouth-watering ham sandwiches and talk with Tommy and Deedee Darden about a way of life that is all but gone in Virginia.