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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 anything 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 25°C (77°F) for several weeks, during which time the original Black Forest Ham gets almost black on the outside. The smoke is created by burning fir brush and sawdust, and this smoking process gives the ham much of its rich flavor. After smoking the Ham is dried in the air for two weeks before it is sold.
Black Forest ham has a very pronounced flavor and is common in German cuisine. It may be eaten fresh, for example on bread or with fruit, or used as an ingredient in cooked dishes. Black Forest Ham pieces are best stored hanging without cover in a cool place (up to 18° C is best) in fresh air and can last for many weeks without wasting. If the ham is kept in the refrigerator or is covered, it will soon get greasy due to the fat coagulating.