The history of ham traces back to ancient traditions. One of the most important prerequisites for the development of civilization was the preservation and storage of food. Drying, smoking, and curing were some of the earliest methods discovered by the ancients. The advent of curing enabled cities, people and cultures to flourish.
It was certainly well established by the time of the Romans when Cato the Elder wrote extensively about the “salting of hams” in around 160 BC. But it probably started much earlier than that, perhaps in China.
Almost every country in the world produces their own version of ham and here is just a small international selection:
Westphalian ham was originally produced from acorn-fed pigs raised in the forests of Westphalia, Germany. The resulting meat is dry cured and then smoked over a mixture of beechwood and juniper branches
Bayonne ham is a cured ham that takes its name from the ancient port city of Bayonne in the far southwest of France, a city located in both the cultural regions of Basque Country and Gascony.
Once the ham has completed its curing process, it is marked with the lauburu (traditional Basque cross), topped with the name Bayonne. The ham is a minimum of 7 months old, with most being 9 or 10 months before it is offered for sale. The ham is a slightly sweet, delicately flavoured meat with little salt to the taste. It is generally cut very thin and has a chewy texture in comparison to cooked hams.
Prague Ham is a type of brine-cured, stewed, and mildly beechwood-smoked boneless ham originally from Prague in Bohemia in what is now the Czech Republic. When cooked on the bone, it is called šunka od kosti ("ham from the bone”
Black Forest ham is a variety of dry-cured smoked ham produced in the Black Forest region of Germany. Raw ham is salted and seasoned with garlic, coriander, pepper, juniper berries and other spices. After curing for two to three weeks, the salt is removed and the ham aged an additional two weeks. It is then cold-smoked using "local conifers and sawdust" at around 25 °C (77 °F) for several days. It then ripens in an air-conditioned room for several weeks, becoming almost black on the outside and acquiring much of its distinctive flavour.
Jamón is a kind of dry-cured ham produced in Spain. Most jamón is commonly called jamón serrano in Spain.
It is similar to Portuguese presunto and to Italian prosciutto, but the production differs by a longer curing phase (up to 18 months), giving a dryer texture, deeper colour and stronger flavour.
Prosciutto crudo, in English often shortened to prosciutto is uncooked, unsmoked, and dry-cured ham. Several regions in Italy have their own variations of prosciutto crudo, each with degrees of protected status, but the most prized are prosciutto di Parma DOP, from Emilia-Romagna, and prosciutto di San DanieleDOP, from Friuli Venezia Giulia. Unlike speck from the South Tyrol region, prosciutto is not smoked. There is also a tradition of making prosciutto in southern Switzerland.
Lidgate Ham We cure and cook all of our hams from pork supplied by free-range farmers. Our New Recipe honey roasted ham comes in our own glaze. Our new improved recipe means our hams are now even more succulent and full of flavour. We also have our traditional breaded ham, a family a firm family favourite and our own smoked ham.
Parma ham is the often considered the best ham in the world, imported from Italy and branded with the authentic logo and we are proud to have it on offer to our customers. The treatment of both the pigs and ham is strictly monitored to ensure the authenticity and quality of the meat. Parma ham is low in salt and known for its distinctive sweet flavour.