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Schwab's hams a perfect fit for Oklahoma table at Easter

Passion for Food by Sherrel Jones: Schwab's Meat Co. nears a century of serving hams fit for the holidays.
BY SHERREL JONES Published: April 20, 2011

Oklahomans love their ham, and Schwab's Meat Co. has been turning out hams and dozens of other products for almost a century. Founder of this Oklahoma company was George Schwab, who brought his pork-curing knowledge from Germany. The company has been using that original dry-cure method since its doors opened 99 years ago.

Visit the Schwab facility on the northwest corner of Linwood and Western and you will find descendants of the founder at work in various capacities. Larry Schwab is the president, and his brother Scott serves as CEO. These fourth-generation Schwabs have already brought in the next generation, as Larry's daughters and nephews work in the facility.

“Not many families can say they've run a company for five generations,” Larry Schwab said.

Schwab said what makes their hams so different is their dry-curing method as opposed to other process that inject water into the ham. A whole Schwab ham comes in a netted bag that serves it throughout processing. The bag is removed to finish the ham at home.

Schwab trims back the hams to expose the meat during the smoking process. The hams are hung from giant carts, rolled into the smoking chamber where they cook at 180 degrees while smoke from white hickory permeates the hams. The hams are removed once they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees, which can take 12 hours at low heat.

Schwab hams in most every cut and size can be found throughout the region. Spiral cuts processed with Oklahoma honey, boneless, bone-in, ham steaks, picnic hams (smaller as they are made from the front legs) and those incredible whole hams that barely fit most roasting pans round out the Schwab ham offerings.

My family had ham every New Year's and Easter. Mother baked the whole or picnic ham in the final stages with pineapple during the last 30 minutes in the oven. Canned pineapple rings with all their juice mingled with ham drippings, forming a simple finish to an already beautifully seasoned ham. The hams had to be Schwab's, as those were the best every time.

I try to have a whole ham around through the Christmas holidays. Redeye gravy at my house amounts to coating the ham with a paste made from red wine and brown sugar. Additional wine is then added to the pan drippings to make a wonderful sauce. I've always cooked the hams for about four hours at 325 degrees under a loose foil tent.

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