Go Back   Forums > Food (41), The food and drink forum

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 29-01-2021, 04:50 PM
Esjayell Esjayell is offline
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: In The West with Elina
Posts: 32
Default Hamming It Up

Hamming It Up

When I was a child, during the school holidays I was taken shopping by my mother. In those days, the 1950s, a time before supermarkets, you had to go to different shops, the butchers, the bakers, etc. One that we went to on a weekly basis was The Home & Colonial Stores, here you would find large tins of biscuits, their contents being sold loose, bacon sliced to order, thickness as well as quantity/weight, drums of real cheddar cheese double wrapped in cheesecloth, once these had been partially removed you would see the outside of the cheese covered in its protective rind. One of the other items they had was held between two white ‘Y’ shaped brackets. It was a large leg of a pig, or more accurately a leg of ham, real ham, still on its bone! Following the demise of H&C, the rise of the supermarkets and the need (by them) for cheaper (mass produced) food, I have been unable, since the early to mid 1970s to find any ‘real’ ham. From the butchers you can get either a raw leg of pork, on the bone or removed and stuffed, but not real ham, only the ‘formed from’ variety. Cook books too seemed to gloss over (omit) anything to do with cooking ham. Then one Sunday morning, more decades ago than I want to remember, I got coerced into going to a car boot sale, it was here I found a really old cookery book that had the instructions to cure and cook ham. Since then I have found a few others, I have selected two and that’s what I’m going to share.

I can tell you what you’ll need, what you’ll have to do and how to do it. However I cannot tell you how long to do it for!

You will need a leg of pork, ideally the ‘thigh’ from a hind leg. On a ‘porker’ this is called a ‘Leg.’ If it is cut into two joints, the top (the best) is called a ‘Fillet Half Leg’ the bottom is a ‘Knuckle.’ Alternatively you could get a leg from a pig bred for ham, in this case the ‘Leg’ is called ‘Gammon,’ these are usually cut into three joints, the top one is a ‘Corner Gammon’ the middle (best) one ‘Middle Gammon,’ with the bottom one a ‘Hock.’ To clarify a few points, Bacon comes from the body of the pig and Gammon comes from the hind legs. Ham is the term used for the hind legs, usually to refer to cooked joints. However, the term Ham is often used instead of Gammon to refer to steaks, in some instances ‘Ham and Eggs’ refers to Gammon steak with eggs rather than cooked ham with eggs.

Traditionally bacon and gammon are cured in a brine solution with herbs and spices, then when cured, and prior to cooking, you soak it in water. Doing this for many hours can result in a joint of gammon being rather tasteless when cooked. The reason for the soaking was to remove most if not all the salt used during the curing process. Then it was cooked in salted water! I gave up sugar in the early 70s and salt in the early 80s. I do not take salt nor do I cook with it. However I shall include the quantities of it for those that do. I find the taste of a gammon joint to be too ‘bacony’ whereas the leg from a ‘porker’ has a more delicate flavour. As the gammon one has been cured, the ‘porker’ has not, I get to choose how much salt to add when I do my own curing.

It may be worth mentioning that although I’ve referred only to the hind legs of the pig, there is no reason why you cannot cure any other part of it.


Once you’ve selected your leg and have got it home, you need to find a large saucepan to put it in, this should have a good, tight fitting lid. Pyrex plates are a good substitute.

Place the leg into the snug fitting pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil.

Add Salt (2 x teaspoons to each 450g/1lb meat), if desired.

As it boils, remove any scum from the surface, then cover the pan with its lid and lower the heat.

Simmer until the fat starts to separate from the meat, it will be several hours.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~


This will require the purchase of some pieces of equipment:

Food-Standard (food safe) Brining Bucket/Tub
Food-Standard (food safe) Tray (that will fit inside the Brining container)



1.1kg P.D.V. salt (Pure Dried Vacuum)
1 litre pressed apple juice (not from concentrate)
1 litre strong dry cider
2.5 litres water
1kg demerara sugar
1kg dark brown sugar or black treacle
20–30 juniper berries
30g black peppercorns, crushed
10 bay leaves, crushed
10 cloves


Put all the ingredients for the ‘cure’ into a large saucepan, bring to the boil and leave to cool. Transfer to a food-standard brining bucket/tub and chill to 3–4°C.

De-bone your leg. Weigh your piece of pork, then place it in the container and submerge it completely in the brine, using a food-standard tray with a weight on top. Leave the pork in the brine, in the coolest place you can find if the container is too large for your fridge, for a minimum of 3 days (or maximum of 4 days) for every kg. The minimum time will suffice if you plan to cook and eat the ham soon after it has finished curing, but you should use the maximum time if you intend to keep it much longer.

After its allotted time, remove the ham from the cure, wipe it dry with a cotton cloth and hang it to dry in a well-ventilated cool place for 24 hours.
This ham keeps well if you go for the maximum cure time: hang it in a well-ventilated outbuilding, or covered porch where a draught can get to it but the rain can’t, and it should keep right through the winter months. In warmer weather, hams are at risk from flies and other bugs, so it’s best to get them cooked before too long. A minimum-cure-time unsmoked ham should be kept in the fridge, wrapped in a cloth or muslin, but not plastic, and cooked within a month of curing.


Many recipes suggest hams should be soaked in plenty of fresh water, which is changed every 12 hours, for 24–48 hours depending on the length of the cure, before boiling. If you draw the moisture out and drive the salty cure in, then undo part of this by soaking it in water, it defeats the object and wastes the time taken for the curing.

Instead, put your ham in a large cooking pot, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer very gently for 2–5 hours, depending on size. If the water tastes very salty after the first hour of cooking, pour at least half of it away and top up with fresh boiling water from the kettle. When the fat starts to separate from the meat, it should be ready.

You can either serve the ham as is or add a further stage of baking, which works well for a festive centrepiece on Boxing Day: remove the ham from the cooking water and allow it to cool slightly. Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas 4. Slice the skin off the ham and score the fat in a diamond pattern. Mix 100g of honey with 2 tablespoons of English mustard to make a honey mustard glaze and smear it over the ham. Place in the oven for about 40 minutes–1 hour, depending on size, until caramelised. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Remember any trimmings or leftovers can be used in a homemade Pea & Ham soup.



Esjay Ell.
Reply With Quote
Old 29-01-2021, 10:11 PM
Dongo's Avatar
Dongo Dongo is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Hertfordshire
Posts: 1,046

Home & Colonial, Liptons, Cullens, Maypole - all fondly remembered. I can even remember out Co-Op dividend number - 959787. The trouble with ham cooking was that I could never stand the smell. I guess that it takes all sorts!

Last edited by Dongo; 05-02-2021 at 10:28 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old 05-02-2021, 09:17 AM
Holly Goodhead's Avatar
Holly Goodhead Holly Goodhead is offline
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Hay-on-Wye in Wales
Posts: 6,222

Thank you and lot of great info there, Bobs gran and grandad will have done lots of that his mother too, from farm to the plate.
From making home made bread to home made cider, the coffee beans, and it all had to be got as you say from lots of shops on market day.
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT. The time now is 03:41 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.