The Ardennes area in Europe extends from south-western Belguim into a pocket of north-eastern France, forming a large circle with Chimay, Belgium at the north, and Orval, France in the south.To make the ham, the pigs used must be born, raised and slaughtered in the French départment called Ardennes, and fed a diet of at least 75% cereal. The curing and aging of the hams must also take place within the French region.
The raw hams are rubbed by hand with a cure made from a mixture of salt, sugar, potassium nitrite and spices including juniper berries. The hams are then cured for a minimum of 45 days for small ones, up to 270 days for large ones. The entire process, curing and then aging, takes a minimum of 9 months.
They are not smoked.
The hams can be bought boned or boneless, whole, sliced or in portions or smaller pieces. The smaller pieces are called “Noix de jambon sec des Ardennes.”
Ardennes Dry Ham received its European PGI status on 18 October 2001. The PGI is administered by the “Association Ardennes de France” in Charleville-Mézières, France.