Here’s Why Black Forest Ham Is the Most Underrated Deli Meat

Plus, discover delicious ways to use Black Forest ham.

<p>LauriPatterson/Getty Images</p>

LauriPatterson/Getty Images

You’ve probably tasted Black Forest ham’s signature sweet-smokiness—or you’ve at least seen it on the menu at your local deli. But how much do you actually know about the underrated deli meat? Here’s what you need to know:

What is Black Forest Ham?

Black Forest ham is a cured version of pork that is usually thinly sliced with a blackened skin and a slightly smoky flavor.

Where is Black Forest Ham From?

True Black Forest ham originated generations ago in the Black Forest region of Germany. In the European Union, the specialty was actually given a Protected Geographical Indication to ensure that anything sold under that name in the EU continued to be produced exclusively in that area. Elsewhere, many brands offer their own version of Black Forest ham that is modeled on that original tradition.

How is Black Forest Ham Made?

A dry brine—typically composed of salt, pepper, coriander, garlic, and juniper berries—is applied to the meat, which then cures for up to three weeks and begins to take on its characteristic dark color. Then, it’s cold-smoked for a few more weeks, deepening the flavor and color further before it is ready to be sliced.

What Does Black Forest Ham Taste Like?

Compared to other hams, Black Forest ham is salty and smoky. But it's still mild enough to be versatile, depending on how you’d like to prepare and serve it.

How to Use Black Forest Ham

This variety of meat, like most ham, can work pretty much wherever you want it to. It’s great on a sandwich, to no one’s surprise. Slap it on a grilled cheese or a melty panini, dress with greens and aiolis to your taste, and enjoy. It will work in a slow cooker or Dutch oven with potatoes and green beans. It will add beautifully to a breakfast scramble with eggs and spinach. Of course, anyone will be delighted to find Black Forest ham spiraling through chicken cordon bleu. To put it simply, the world is your oyster. Just mind your seasonings, and be sure to balance the smokiness and saltiness with whatever else you’re adding to the dish.


How to Store and Freeze Black Forest Ham

The USDA advises that cured ham can last 5 to 7 days in the fridge or 3 to 4 months in the freezer. See their very detailed ham storage chart to ensure you’re staying safe, depending on what you have on hand.

If you opt to freeze Black Forest Ham, I advise wrapping by portion. Once the ham is in the cubes or slices you plan to use it in, measure it out into the amounts you anticipate using it in—this way, you can better thaw only what you need at any given time. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap to make sure no freezer burn sneaks in, and then place in a plastic bag before putting in the freezer (vacuum-sealed if you can). Don’t forget to save the bone for stock!

Read the original article on All Recipes.