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Black Forest ham is something we thoroughly enjoy in a sandwich or a delicious saucy wrap, but what do we know of the history other than the rich flavors?
The Black Forest ham is basically a dry-cured smoked ham that comes from the pig's hind leg. The ham has a smoky and intense flavor and is wonderfully moist with a dense texture.
In order to be the "real deal," the Black Forest ham should only come from a specific region in Germany. What’s more, they can't be sold by just any manufacturer. The manufacturers must be specially licensed to produce these hams and get the "Black Forest" moniker.
This article discusses everything you need to know about black forest ham, what it is, what it tastes like, where it comes from, and its nutritional value.
What is black forest ham?
Black Forest ham is a dry-cured smoked ham with a black exterior or crust. It is one of the popular varieties of deli meats sold throughout the U.S.
Black Forest ham is only considered genuine or authentic if produced in the Black Forest region in Germany called Schwarzwald. Ergo, the name black forest. Originally the black skin was the result of beef blood coating, but now this color is achieved as a result of spices added to it and the smoking process during the dry curing stage.
Some commercially produced smoked hams are also sold under the label of Black Forest ham. But these are not to be considered genuine as they are not cured the same way as the true varieties.
The true Black Forest ham takes up to 3 months to produce and perfect as they undergo a rigorous process of air-drying and curing.
First, the ham is salted and then seasoned with pepper, garlic, juniper berries, and coriander. After two weeks of curing, salt is removed and left to cure again for another two weeks. Subsequently, it is then cold smoked using either juniper bush or sawdust and fir.
During this process, the ham develops the trademark black skin, representing its distinct flavor. It is then cured for two more weeks to be prepared for selling on the market.
What does black forest ham taste like?
Black Forest ham's brining and curing process gives it an intensely rich flavor, a blackened crust, and rosy flesh. It tastes salty, smoky, and moist and has a pronounced flavor, making it a wonderful addition to soups, sandwiches, and pasta dishes.
The boneless ham also takes on the intense flavors from the type of wood that is used in smoking it, like hickory or apple wood, and has hints of garlic and pepper as well.
Apart from the delish savory flavors of the meat, the Black Forest ham has a mouthwatering scent and is highly aromatic as well.
Where does black forest ham come from?
The Black Forest ham, or Schwarzwälder Schinken in German, was produced and pioneered by Hans Alder from Bonndorf in Germany in 1959, following a strict set of guidelines.
The moniker "Black Forest" originates from the region in which it was produced. This gammon must be produced in the black forest region of Germany to be sold under the label.
This began in 1997 under Protected Designation of Origin in the European Union, which means any ham sold with this particular label must come from the Black Forest region of Germany only. Of course, this only applies to the EU countries where these standards are upheld.
Many countries like the United States and Canada sell commercially produced hams with differing qualities under the "Black Forest" label, but they are not the real thing.
Nutritional value of black forest ham
Want to know what nutritional value a serving size of 4 oz of black Forest ham brings to the table?
The Black Forest ham has only one-fifth of fat when compared to other types of ham. It has around 160 calories and 10 of which come from fat, none of which are trans fat.
Rather they are unsaturated fat that contributes towards keeping your heart healthy and contributes to producing HDL cholesterol, i.e., the good kind.
Moreover, this ham also delivers 20 grams of protein to the body, around half of the recommended daily intake. It also contains simple carbohydrates that are good for your weight.
Moreover, this smoky, savory meat is rich in essential vitamins and nutrients. The Black Forest ham contains vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, iron, and magnesium. Plus, it also has around 1000 mg of sodium. Since it has high sodium levels, people with cardiovascular conditions should consume it cautiously.
On the flip side, Black Forest ham contains very low amounts of calcium, so it's best not to depend on its consumption to fulfill your daily calcium requirement.
Moreover, it should also be noted that the making of Black Forest ham requires nitrates, which in excessive amounts, can potentially increase the risk of cancer.
Black forest ham vs. Honey ham
While both Black Forest and honey ham are delicious and something none of us can refuse, there is a stark difference when it comes to the production of both types of meat.
Honey ham is wet-cured using honey in the curing process. It is first soaked in the salty brine solution, which is then balanced with the sweetness of honey. This brining process also kills bacteria and helps in preserving the meat.
Honey-cured ham varieties are available sliced or whole and smoked and unsmoked.
Some countries only consider ham to be honey cured if only 50 percent or more honey is used in the sweetening.
On the other hand, Black Forest ham is dry-cured with a blend of spices and salt. It undergoes a series of treatments that takes months to produce the perfect, aged ham. Only specially licensed producers can manufacture this ham in the Black Forest region of Germany. There are no strict standards when it comes to producing honey ham.
How to cook black forest ham
Black Forest ham provides you with high-quality meat, which also justifies the high price tag. This luxury ham comes with intense flavor and taste that is only acquired because of its challenging manufacturing process and the place of production.
While other low qualities of "Black Forest" ham exist worldwide, only a true connoisseur knows the taste of fine quality ham that trademarks the authentic Black Forest deli meat.
Serving black forest ham
Favorite recipes using black forest ham:
What cheese goes with black forest ham?
Ham and cheese go together like peanut butter and jelly. Some of the best cheeses that go with ham are:
How to store black forest ham
Store: Store black forest ham in an airtight container or bag in the refrigerator. It should be eaten within 5 days.
Freeze: Can you freeze black forest ham? Yes, it can be frozen in a freezer safe bag for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
Black forest ham FAQ
The black is spices that are applied to the outside of the ham and darken when it's smoked.
Black forest ham is typically good in quality. It can depend on the supplier you get it from.
More recipes you will enjoy
Black Forest Ham
- 4 slices whole wheat bread
- 4 slices black forest ham
- 2 slices havarti cheese
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 pieces lettuce
- 2 slices tomato
- Spread two mayonnaise and mustard on 2 slices of bread.
- Assemble the sandwiches with cheese, ham, lettuce, and tomato.