James (Jim) P. Kite, a native of Madison County, is an avid sportsman. He played professional baseball in the mid-1960’s, became a golfer and still tours in the amateur class. However, it was during a game in New Orleans, this young pitcher from Madison County was struggling and had gotten behind. A man stood up in the stands and taunted for Kite to "Give us a break. Go out," he recommended, "and earn an honest living." It was while playing that game, Jim decided to get into the ham-curing business, using his father’s secret recipe.
Kite’s Ham, this widely renowned delicacy available only from downtown Wolftown, is located in a converted chicken house that sits at the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
Kite gets his hams primarily from the Midwest where the pigs are corn-fed. He feels that corn- fed pigs are more solid pork and the meat tends to have less fat content than that from peanut-fed pigs.
At present time Jim cures and processes about 20,000 hams a year. Because Kite’s hams do not need refrigeration they are easily shipped all over the country.
The hams are rubbed with a mixture of salt, brown sugar and other ingredients and stored on wooden racks in a cool, moist room. The curing process takes 40 days, after which the hams are hung in a dry, temperature-controlled room to dry out. Depending on the type of ham, the drying and aging process takes anywhere from three to eight months. The longer it hangs the less moisture the ham has and the flavors concentrate making for a stronger piece of meat.
In the past these hams have won first and second in judging in the Virginia State fair, and have tied for first one year in a national ham show.
Slow cooking is the best way to cook a country-cured ham. That way it doesn’t dry out. Cooking is simple. Soak it if you must, but it’s not necessary. Put it in a covered or uncovered roaster with 10 cups of water. Set in the oven at 170 degrees, allowing 45 to 60 minutes per pound. A slow oven is the secret.
Our genuine sugar cured country hams are available all year long. We have center cuts (ham steaks) and breakfast ham for frying, cooked trimmings and ham hocks for seasonings plus pre-cooked hams with or without the bone. Our bacon is sold sliced or slab. Gift boxes (sample packs) include a variety of our items and are a great holiday gift. All items are USDA approved before arrival to Kite’s Hams. After being processed, the product is inspected and approved by VDACS.