The Bakers’ ABC: H is for Ham

The thigh and buttock of an animal, salted or cure in some way, or smoked. The favourite ham for flavour is named ‘Yorkshire’. This is made from large , and what most people consider fat, pork. It is cured dry, with about 1lb salt and 1oz salt petre, and ½ oz sugar to each pound of pork. The practice is to rub this pickle into the meat at regular intervals, the operation, apart from time of hanging, taking from 16 – 21 days.

In some parts of Ireland “green hams”, that is unsmoked and generally from large pork, are cured by simply burying in dry salt for five to six weeks. As a rule, Irish hams, as sold out of Ireland are all made from small pork. They owe their excellence and particular flavour to the careful selection of pigs from which they are taken, and to the judgement exercised in the smoking process by which they are cured. The ‘curing’ is simply an expedient, to destroy all bacterial forms in the flesh, and then to make it immune from attack by other bacteria from outside by drying, or smoking,  or by the addition or some bactericidal mixture. Strong solutions of salt, sugar, saltpetre &c., all answer to the latter description.

In use, ham is suitable for many purposes, paste, sandwiches, mixed with veal and other white meats &c. Ham, machine cut, as thin as paper, is a favourite dish on the breakfast table in Holland and other continental countries

From The Baker’s ABC by John Kirkland, formerly Head Teacher of National School of Baking, published 1927 by Gresham

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