It is made from the hind leg of the pig. The ham is rubbed with a mixture of salt and spices such as elderberry, juniper, garlic and coriander. Sometimes it is first dipped in cow blood, which gives the surface the dark colour, but nowadays many producers let the rub and subsequent smoking do the job. The ham is allowed to cure for 4 to 6 weeks, then air-dried, then smoked with smoke from fir wood or beechwood. From start to finish the process takes about three months
The association governing its production is called the “Schutzverband der Schwarzwälder Schinkenhersteller” (“Black Forest Ham Makers’ Association.”)
Imitation Black Forest Hams are made in North America.
They have no rind, and because they are cured with brine, inside they look like a regular brine-cured ham. They may be smoked or smoke-flavoured. The outside is coloured with caramel. In Canada, processors got permission in March 1999 to use iron oxide instead of caramel. This allows “an easier and more economical production of the traditional black coating on black forest ham” (Canada Gazette. Vol. 133, No. 5 — 3 March 1999.)
Black Forest Ham does not need cooking. It is served sliced very thinly.