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How is cooked ham made? Discover its manufacturing secrets


The European culinary heritage is extremely rich and world-renowned: ham and butter sandwiches, pizza, paella, or sauerkraut. 

Have you noticed the common point between all these dishes? The charcuterie. More precisely, European charcuterie.


Did you know that European charcuterie is an integral part of Western gastronomy and is consumed daily by millions of people? In fact, pork represents 51% of the meat consumption of Europeans. There are delicious flavors of sausages, ham, chorizo and other delicatessen specialties to discover during a trip to Europe or if you look hard enough, in your own country.


Among all the existing charcuterie, one of them stands out: cooked ham. Europeans love it at any time of the day and everyone has their own way of eating it according to their local culture.


In 2021, its production and consumption reached impressive figures: almost 200,000 tons of cooked ham were produced over the year.


This widely consumed delicatessen is made from the leg of the pig.

Also known as white ham, it is a practical delicatessen and has the advantage of requiring no preparation. This simplicity is unanimously appreciated by children and older people alike.

Whether it's in the morning as part of a savoury breakfast, at lunchtime to accompany vegetables, or for a snack, it's a practical and delicious option. And if you add a French touch to your meal with the famous ham and butter sandwich or the mythical coquillettes-jambon.


In the European culture, this protein is one of the most popular ingredients, practical and is a must in the European gastronomy.


If it is very widespread in Europe, few people know the secrets of its manufacture. So, how is cooked ham made ?

Before reaching our plate, the piece of pork leg must go through several manufacturing stages to become cooked ham:

  • Boning: this first step consists in cutting the piece of meat to extract the bones present and recover only the flesh of the animal, 

  • Trimming: this consists of selecting the best pieces of pork from the piece, 

  • The brine: this phase is crucial; it will be used to season the selected pieces. This is what will contribute to the delicious taste of the ham. To do this, it is necessary to create an aromatic broth based on vegetables, herbs and condiments, 

  • Curing: This ensures that the ham is preserved in the best possible way. To ensure that the ham is cured to a high standard, the pieces of ham must be placed in coarse salt,

  • Churning (or kneading): this technique aims to massage the muscles of the meat for several hours to optimize the taste of the ham and makes the pieces tender and tasty, 

  • Moulding: gives the slice its shape when it is cut, 

  • The cooking: about twenty minutes in boiling water, 

  • And finally, the cutting.


If you travel to Europe, you will discover that there are several types of cooked ham, including renowned and high-quality cooked hams:

  • The "Superior Cooked Ham" designation, which has a different know-how and contains fewer additives, 

  • The "Braised Cooked Ham", which is made using a different cooking technique than the classic cooked ham, 

Or the "ham cooked in a cloth", cooked by pressing the pieces of pork in boiling water.


Curious to know more about the dishes to cook with cooked ham? They are often simple and easy to incorporate into your routine:

  • For a salty breakfast: egg, ham, wholemeal bread and butter, to start the day in great shape,

  • The ham and cheese sandwich: bread, ham, butter and cheese, for a successful snack,

  • The coquillettes with ham (see above): the children's favorite dish,

  • Cauliflower and ham au gratin: to add vegetables to your daily routine,

  • Omelette with ham: a weekday evening, if you want to eat a balanced meal without spending the whole evening there: eggs, cheese and ham,

  • Endive with ham: a typical dish to combine practicality, balance and pleasure,

  • Margarita pizza: the most basic pizza, simple but delicious with mozzarella, ham and tomatoes for a party night or in front of a TV show,

  • Ham and olive cake: for an aperitif with friends, the cake will require a little preparation but will be a guaranteed success,

  • Or opt for ham and cheese rolls: another quick aperitif recipe.


Thanks to all these ideas, you will find your own way to enjoy the European cooked ham and especially how to incorporate it in your diet easily!

Bonus:  A typical European dish

Finally, here is the complete recipe for a typical European dish: the ham quiche.

Quiche is a very popular egg-based savory pie in Europe. 

This dish is declined in many ways but is mainly known as "quiche Lorraine" : a quiche made with egg, bacon and cheese.


Here, we have decided to revisit the original recipe by proposing an alternative : the recipe for zucchini, ham and goat cheese quiche.

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