Healthy Eating

We're championing fresh food that packs a flavour punch, from salads and vegetable-packed bowls to grains and light desserts.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller and receive a copy of Nordic Light - offer ends 23 April 2017.

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

Top tips for picking a Christmas ham

Top tips for picking hams from a professional fleischmeister.

Horst Schurger says that the best way to find a good ham is to start with a good butcher. "If he takes care of the meat, chances are he'll take care of the ham, too."

We spoke to the German-born fleischmeister and master butcher as he was judging the National PorkMark Ham Awards for Excellence in Sydney with a view to picking up some tips on what makes a good ham.

When you're tasting, he says, you're looking for a balanced cure, a natural meaty texture (wet or rubbery is a big no-no) and a good smoky flavour. If you have to choose without first tasting the ham (a practice no fleischmeister would condone), look for smooth, even skin and an even colouring. "And if the knuckle is sunken, it's overcooked, which means the whole ham is overcooked."

A buckled or uneven rind is another sign of dryness and if there's a cut ham on display, look for smooth, well-bound meat with no bubbles (they result from fermentation, an indicator of an inferior cure).

Size and age matter, too. Older pigs make for tougher eating, and younger pigs have less flavour, making hams around the 10kg-12kg mark the sweet spot.

The take-home message? Find a good butcher and don't be afraid to ask questions: whether you can taste the ham, where it comes from, the sex of the animal it was cut from (female is best), and what kind of wood was used to smoke it.

And finally, for the best possible results, opt for fresh Australian pork. Hams can be made in Australia using imported frozen meat; make sure the ham you buy has been made with Australian meat (look for the pink "Australian Pork" label for your guarantee). "It supports the Australian farmers," says Schurger, "and, of course, it's better quality."

To see the National PorkMark Ham Awards for Excellence winners and for more information, visit pork.com.au.

Looking for some Christmas ham recipes? Check out our Christmas recipe slideshow

Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
Does Newcastle have Australia’s best eclair?
21.04.2017
Seven Italian dishes that shaped fine dining in the 2000s
28.03.2017
Our chocolate issue is out now
27.03.2017
Honey Fingers, Melbourne's inner-city beekeepers
22.03.2017
Seven recipes that shaped 1980s fine dining
21.03.2017
What is aquafaba?
20.03.2017
GT
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
Recipe collections

Looking for ways to make the most out of seasonal produce? Want to find a recipe perfect for a party? Or just after fresh ideas for dessert? Either way, our recipe collections have you covered.

See more
2017 Restaurant Guide

Our 2017 Restaurant Guide is online, covering over 400 restaurants Australia wide. Never wonder where to dine again.

See more

You might also like...

Hot 100 2015 - Food

The world is getting hotter and we’re not talking about glob...

The producers: Two Rivers Green Tea

A leading local tea exporter now offers his leaves to the do...

The producers: Colony honey

A selection of regional monofloral honeys sourced direct fro...

Liquid gold

We find ourselves inexorably drawn to salt caramel in a jar....

The producers: Atssu Divers

Hand-dived abalone, turban shell and sea urchin.

Making a scene

Entertainer Julia Zemiro notes there’s little difference bet...

Game of Thrones food

Pat Nourse caught up with George RR Martin to talk about one...

Deutscher’s Turkey Farm

When it comes to talking turkey, the best birds have lived t...

Sandor Ellix Katz Q&A

Food fermentation 'revivalist' and guru Sandor Ellix Katz di...

The producers: Alexandrina Jersey milk

Meet the producers of the creme de la creme of Australian fu...

On the pass

Looking back over the 20 years she's been in business, Phill...

Gamze smokehouse

Bringing local flavour to artisan-made bacon.

Gourmet Traveller Gourmet Fast app

Now, here's a mighty handful: GT's Gourmet Fast recipes are ...

Food emoji we wish existed

What? More than 200 new pictograms in the latest Emoji set, ...

What is jumbuck?

The jumbuck has leapt straight from the pages of Banjo Pater...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

×