Farmer Jimmy Doherty sets out to discover how manufacturers make ham square. He takes fresh pork and adds water, salt, sugar and phosphates by injecting it into the meat, to increase its weight by 20%. He uses a cement mixer to replicate the tumbling of meat to tenderise it and allow the chemicals to penetrate the pork. He then packs the meat into a square container and cooks it before slicing to make square ham.
Could be used to prompt discussion and reflection on the manufacture of meat products. For example, it might be used to develop students' understanding of the function of ingredients, preservatives and other chemicals found in food products. Students should consider how these might enhance the flavour, improve the shelf life, reduce cost or improve production.
Further analysis and evaluation could be made to inform learners' choices of ingredients in their own design and making activities. Through this, it might be expected that learners would reflect on the origins of ingredients in food products, developing an understanding of commercial methods of food production; this might including one-off, batch, mass, and continuous flow.
An extension of this activity could be to investigate other manufacturing processes, perhaps linked with an industrial visit.