Returning now to our respective hams. We’ve patiently waited the allotted time and both sets of ham owners are champing at the bit to hang ‘em. Ours was ready to hang on Boxing Day, but in reality, spill-over present opening, parents departing, wine-a-guzzling, meant that we did so the day after. Siobhann and her family weren’t actually in the same county as their ham (although there was talk of strapping it to Tom’s motorbike to take with them for Christmas), so they waited a few extra days too. It’ll be interesting to see if there are any differences in flavour, given that ours was slightly weightier and yet salted for a couple of days less time. Apart from that the curing method shall be identical. They’re both hanging in Siobhann’s lovely woodshed, side by side, just waiting for the day that they can be struck down and gobbled up. They look so sweet hanging there, reminds me of the empty wooden Church in Ghent where there are fifty or so hams just hanging from the rafters. One day.
Anyway, back to the hams at hand. The next stage is the air-drying. It’s really very simple, and takes a matter of minutes. All you do is remove the ham from the box of salt (we’re keeping all our salt in case of Frozen Britain conditions), rinse thoroughly under running water (including in the cavity), pat dry with kitchen paper, then brush with white wine vinegar. Then wrap with muslin. I was stupidly searching everywhere for muslin, only to remember that Molly used to be a baby, and therefore there were a tonne of muslins still in the airing cupboard. Durr. So yes, double wrap with muslin, tie around with string and hang from a hook outside but covered. The key thing is ventilation. When we made a ham before, we had an outhouse, so we just kept the windows and door open. Luckily Siobhann has a woodshed that is ideal as it has no door, and has lots of holes and gaps for ventilation. You basically want the conditions to be cool and windy, but to be protected from rain. It’s also advisable to hang your ham during the cool months, as this reduces the chances of the ham rotting and flies getting at it. You don’t however want the ham to freeze and thaw and so on and so forth, as this again reduces the chance of rot. You also want to keep the ham away from any unwanted eyes. Unfortunately Siobhann’s had a visit from a rat in their garage, but I think he was happy with her sack of flour. So, hanging it away from walls that rats or foxes or the like could run up, is preferable.
So there we are. The hams are hung. Bar the occasional sniff from Siobhann and Tom, all we have to do now is to forget about them for months and months and months. Damn.