The ham spends 1 month in brine, then is cured in a sweet solution of sugar, salt and saltpetre or stout, spices and molasses (or black treacle.) Lighter recipes will use cider instead of stout. The stout doesn’t have to Guinness. For instance it can be a local stout, such as the brown porter called Old Growler made by Nethergate Brewery in Clare, Suffolk.
The ham is turned every day during this sweet stage.
Then, the ham is smoked over a fire of applewood and/ or oak chips for about 5 days, then hung for several weeks to a month.
The outside skin becomes shiny black or deep mahogony, depending on the cure.
A brined ham of 24 pounds/ 10 kilos will lose about 4 1/2 pounds (2kg) during the cure.
Not every ham succeeds, about 1 in 200 fails.
To cook: soak overnight first in water. Then bake covered in foil, in about 2 inches (5 cm) of cider. Allow 25 minutes per pound (450g) at 350 F / 180 C.
Also called “Suffolk sweet-cured hams”.