Home made air dried ham

After a previous botched attempt, I decided again to try and make my own air dried ham. Following HFW’s instructions closely from The River Cottage Cookbook, I set about trying to make my own version of the air dried ham I love so much in Italy and Spain.

It’s going to be a long journey too. After buying a full leg of organic Gloucester Old Spot from Swillington Organic Farm in March this year, the leg has been packed in salt for 4 weeks, curing away quietly in the garage under a stack of weights. The idea is to compress the meat into a more rectangular shape.

I opted to keep the bone in (Spanish style) and therefore had to be very careful as this is more prone to going off during the cure and also talkes longer in the drying stage. Anyway, today was the first big day – had the pork survived a month packed in salt? Yes it had. It looked and smelled very similar to bacon I’d cured before so it seems we’re on track.

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First job was to wash off all the salt with cold running water – a LOT of liquid had leached out of the meat, making the salt very wet, then finally rub it all over with a white wine vinegar. HFW recommends that the ham is wrapped in a double layer of muslin and tight tightly with kitchen string.

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The resulting package is rather satisfying to create – and no doubt it would have been much simpler if I’d have learnt how to tie those fancy butcher’s knots when I was at River Cottage HQ last year. Anyway, I thought it looked pretty cool and the added bonus is that my ham will have it’s very own Turin shroud type accessory at the end of the process.

Next I had to find somewhere cool and breezy. I didn’t fancy hanging from one of the trees, even inside some kind of cage affair, as the animals in our garden are sure to devise a method to get past any security. I opted for a hook in the garage which is the best option I’ve got, as I don’t have a barn or similar country style outbuilding.

By my calculations it should be ready for Christmas! Blimey – talk about slow food….watch (or smell) this space. I’ll keep you posted with any developments.

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