We sell lots of different hams, but generally they fall into three different types of cure:
The York Ham:
A much circulated rumour that the original York Hams were smoked with the wood from the ruins of the first York Minster (which burned down in 741) is certainly not true, indeed we are firmly of the opinion that a York Ham should not be smoked at all. What is certain is that this most quintessential English ham is produced using curing methods that have remained largely unchanged for centuries. We carefully select the best legs of British Pork we can find, dress each with a pinch of saltpetre and then cover with a generous layer of salt. This process is repeated over a number of weeks before the hams are hung up in special drying rooms and left to mature for several months. This time consuming process results in a beautiful ham with an unparalleled depth of flavour, and is the original source of our coveted Royal Warrant.
As a traditionally dry cured ham, the York is a little firmer textured and saltier than the Wiltshire for instance, and should therefore be served sliced as thinly as possible.
The Shropshire Black Ham
This flavoursome ham is a direct descendent of the historic Bradenham Ham, which originated in the kitchens of Bradenham Manor, Buckinghamshire in 1781. Rumour has it that the butler fell out with his employer, Lord Bradenham, and moved to Wiltshire, taking the recipe with him. Thus the Bradenham Ham Company was born, and continued to manufacture delicious hams for almost 100 years. Sadly, the company’s fortunes waned, and the recipe was passed from business to business until production ceased. Though we weren’t able to acquire the name, we did manage to recreate the recipe, and so the Shropshire Black was born. The hams are cured in the same way as our Yorks, what sets it apart, however, and gives the ham its distinctive black rind, is a fortnight spent wallowing in a special marinade of molasses, juniper berries and spices. This impressively full flavoured ham remains a favourite of connoisseurs seeking the ultimate taste experience.
The Shropshire Black has a distinctive flavour, and we generally advise that those who enjoy strong cheeses, game and other full-flavoured foods are most likely to enjoy the Shropshire Black. As with the York this is a densely textured ham, best served thinly sliced.
The Wiltshire Ham
Since time immemorial, man has looked for ways to preserve meat to see him through times of scarcity. Through experimentation and ingenuity, we have discovered a myriad of ways of accomplishing this, from simply drying in the sun, fermentation, and of course salting. Until 1841 salting was just that – the application of dry salt to the meat – which had the effect of drying it, preserving it and making it extremely tasty. In that year however, Elizabeth Harris, the matriarch of a ham curing dynasty based in Calne in Wiltshire, perfected a way of curing pork by immersing it in brine. The results of her labours were hams that were quicker to make, but more importantly gave a product that was distinctly milder in flavour than the distinctly saltier dry cured hams of yore.
For many years our most popular ham, the Wiltshire is cured by lengthy immersion in brine, which gives it a moist (but never wet!) texture. The addition of unrefined brown sugar to the recipe adds a subtle sweetness to this mild and delicious ham.
The Wiltshire Ham is available either smoked or unsmoked.