Our hams have been one of our flagship items since 2007. They hold a special place in my heart as it represented Keller's first focused effort to create a product that met the needs of our farmer. This product was brought to life through a true partnership, a partnership that was not governed with a legal contract but one built on trust, synergy and commitment.
The pork leg represents the largest muscle group by lbs from a hog at about 24%. Ensuring that all the pork legs were sold per week was ensuring that roughly ¼ of the production was taken care of. Warning **Soap Box** When we get together and dream about a sustainable future that works between humans and our beautiful planet, we often think about the green pastures and fields, happy animals and great clean food. The part that often gets overlooked is the sustainable finance portion. This means that our community can pay the farmer a price that covers her costs and profit margins to sustain the business in perpetuity. **End Soap Box** The key point of our work together is to create sustained product demand that can support farmers to leave the commodity / low cost food model by building quality products with volume to provide equitable and reliable market support. This is literally how we CHANGE WHAT IT MEANS TO EAT GOOD FOOD.
The mission was obvious. I set my vision to create a ham that would perform at a high culinary level and drive consumer demand for our farmer 52 weeks per year. This was a massive R&D initiative as the whole leg is composed of 6 major muscle groups, and they all needed to be utilized to create a sustainable product.
After about 10,000 lbs of R&D (and too many trips to the food bank to surrender my donations), I created what I consider to be a delicious ham that used all the parts of the leg. Simple ingredients, light on the sea salt and naturally slow smoked the old fashioned way. These hams became my number one job every week. I spent literally years trimming legs and making hams. The eight hour smoke cycles and checking the ovens at night before leaving the plant contributed to the earned nickname “Ham Hands”, my young children would smell my smokey hands as I tucked them in at night.
I developed a stripped down “Rustic” ham that was simply Non-GMO verified pork and a sea salt brine cured with celery powder. We also created a Maple ham that is sweetened with organic maple syrup and organic raw unrefined sugar. Both of our hams are smoked over beautiful cherry wood, which is a perfect step between the lighter applewood and the rich hickory wood flavors.
A quick note on Proposition 12 pork in California. There has been a lot of talk about Prop 12 compliance in California for pork. Prop 12 is an animal welfare focused law that California residents voted in support of. Keller Crafted supports the dignified treatment of all life, including animals and people for that matter. Keller Crafted has been compliant with the Prop 12 standards since we started our business in 2001. It's how we roll.
Interesting Fact: About 4% of the US grown pork supply is compliant with Prop 12. California consumes approximately 18% of the US pork supply. This well intended proposition does not come without collateral damage. The California voters did not take this mismatch in supply and demand into account, and it will hurt our nation's family farmers. Many independent farmers simply don't have the capital to retrofit their farms to meet the compliance standards. There is always an unintended consequence to our efforts to create a better food system. Humility and compassion are always needed as we push for positive change.
A quick note that the Prop 12 standards only apply to raw/ uncooked items such as pork, raw sausage and bacon. It does not apply to cooked items like fully cooked sausages and ham. I say this so you can be informed as you make your selections at the grocery store. Not all cooked items will be made from Prop 12 compliant pork, but you can count on Keller to advocate for the dignity of animals, human wellness and ecosystem health well before they are mandated.
We are pleased and proud to offer our flagship hams to your family this holiday season. With Gratitude and Joy.
- Mark Keller
“I personally love this ham. Mark and the whole Keller Crafted family's commitment to quality are among the highest in the industry. Their standard is embossed into the entire Keller Ham line up. Whether you chose the Maple or Rustic or Bone-in or Boneless, they are all delicious and mother approved!”
- Michael Puglisi
Founder, Electric City Butcher,
Graze and Gather Meats & Provisions