Black Forest ham
Black Forest ham, or Schwarzwälder Schinken in German, is a variety of dry-cured smoked ham, produced in the Black Forest region of Germany. Ham is the thigh and rump from the haunch of a pig or boar.
Black Forest ham is the best-selling smoked ham in Europe. In 1959, Hans Adler from Bonndorf pioneered manufacturing and selling Original Black Forest ham by retail and mail order. Since 1997, the term "Black Forest ham" is a Protected Designation of Origin in the European Union, which means that any product sold in the EU as "Black Forest ham" must come from the Black Forest region in Germany. However, this appellation is not recognized in non-EU countries, particularly in United States and Canada, where various commercially produced hams of varying degrees of quality are marketed and sold as "Black Forest ham".
The production of Black Forest ham can take up to three months. Raw ham is salted and seasoned with garlic, coriander, pepper, juniper berries and other spices. After curing for two weeks, the salt is removed and the ham cures for another two weeks. Then the ham is cold-smoked at a temperature of not more than 25°C (77°F) for several weeks, during which time the original Black Forest ham becomes almost black on the outside. The smoke is created by burning sawdust and fir or juniper brush. This smoking process gives the ham much of its rich flavor. After smoking, the ham is air-dried for at least two weeks before it is sold.
Black Forest ham is boneless and always contains about one-fifth of fat. It has a very pronounced flavor and is common in German cuisine. It may be eaten fresh, for example on holzofenbrot or rye bread or with fruit, or used as an ingredient in cooked dishes. Whole pieces of Black Forest ham can be preserved for months when stored the right way. It should be stored hanging in a cool and dry room, not in the refrigerator, preferably wrapped in linen cover, or else vacuum packed. If the ham is cut into slices, it can be kept for some days packed or wrapped in grease-proof paper in the refrigerator. For full flavor, the ham needs to have room temperature for a while. 
Schwarzwälder Speck is bacon produced the same way and comes in two categories: Durchwachsener Speck has several layers of meat and half of it consists of fat, fetter Speck consists almost completely of fat. Both variants are with pork rind. The pork rind is too hard to eat, but it is cooked in some traditional German dishes like Linsen mit Spätzle or Eintopf to add some of its rich flavors to the food.
- The Association of the Black Forest Ham Manufacturers (website). Accessed June 2010.
- Company history of Adler Schwarzwald
- "The production of Schwarzwälder Schinken Black Forest Ham" The Association of the Black Forest Ham Manufacturers (website). Accessed June 2010.
- http://www.schwarzwaelder-schinken-verband.de/index.php?seite=schinkenwissen Website of the Schwarzwälder-Schinken-Verband
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