What is Black Forest Ham? (How It’s Made and More)

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Has a family member mentioned Black Forest Ham to you, but you aren’t quite sure what it is? You’ve come to the right place!

In this TheGrillingDad.com article we’ll explain:

  • What Black Forest Ham is
  • The history of Black Forest Ham
  • And much more!
thinly sliced black forest ham on a plate

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What is Black Forest Ham?

Black forest ham is a delicacy that many people choose to enjoy around the holiday season. Known for its unique, smoky flavor, most people wait all year to enjoy a nice serving of this special ham.

Black Forest ham is a type of ham that has been dry cured and smoked. It takes 3 months to make however, meaning it can be difficult to come by. Black Forest ham is typically seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, juniper berries, and coriander.

Black Forest ham is first cured for about two weeks before it undergoes a two-week aging process. Once this is complete, the ham undergoes a unique cold smoking process which gives it a black skin. It isn’t done yet however, and it must air-cured for an additional two weeks before it is ready to be sold.

The reason Black Forest ham is so special is because of the cold smoking process where the ham is not allowed to reach a temperature of above 77°F. This seals in the flavor without causing the meat to become overcooked and dry. Additionally, is it cold-smoked over sawdust and juniper branches, which gives it a unique flavor.

Interested in trying a Black Forest ham this holiday season? Read on to learn more details about this unique dish.

Where Does Black Forest Ham Come From?

Black Forest ham is of German origins and can be traced back to 1959 where is was first produced in Bonndorf, Germany. This is where it got its name as Bonndorf is in the Black Forest in Germany. It was invented by a man by the name of Hans Alder.

Technically, when you purchase your Black Forest ham in the United States, it isn’t really a Black Forest ham as it didn’t come from this region of Europe. But, in America many delis follow the same procedures to make their own version of this famous dish.

Related >> What Is Uncured Ham?

close up of black forest ham

Where Can You Buy Black Forest Ham?

Black Forest ham is the most popular deli meat in the United States. If you are looking for some for sandwiches or wraps, you can probably find it at your deli counter.

If you want to get an entire Black Forest Ham to serve for the holidays, it might be possible to find this at your deli counter, or you may need to head to your local butcher. Either way we recommend reserving in advance as stock is typically limited around the holiday season.

Related >> How Much Ham Do You Need Per Person?

How to Make Black Forest Ham

It is extremely difficult to make Black Forest ham and it can take weeks as we mentioned above. But if you’ve purchased a whole one from the store and are looking to cook it, here are the directions.

Keep in mind that the preparation process fully cooks a Black Forest ham, therefore you are mostly reheating it, not actually cooking it.

Step 1: Preheat

Start by preheating your oven to 325°F.

Step 2: Prepare the Ham

Place the ham in a shallow baking dish. Because the ham will already be quite flavorful, it is not necessary to baste the Black Forest ham as you would other hams.

Step 3: Place the Ham in the Oven

Put the ham in the middle rack in the oven.

Step 4: Wait

Set the timer for 10-15 minutes per pound of ham. You don’t have to worry about the ham being undercooked, as it is already fully cooked, this is simply how long it will take for the entire ham to get warm.

Step 5: Serve

Once the timer goes off, remove you ham from the oven and serve!

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How to Store Black Forest Ham

Black Forest ham is best stored in the fridge in an airtight dish. When properly stored, Black Forest ham will stay fresh for 4-5 days in your fridge.

Editor’s Note: In general, a Black Forest ham will only stay good in your fridge for 4-5 days, this means before you serve it as well. Therefore, if you buy the ham two days before Christmas, cook it on Christmas, then save the leftovers, they will only stay fresh for 1-2 days after.

Related >> How Long Does Ham Last in the Fridge?

Can You Freeze Black Forest Ham?

If you find that you simply have too much Black Forest Ham on hand, it is possible to freeze it. Simply pack the ham into a freezer-safe container or bag and place in the freezer.

As long as it is frozen within a few hours of purchase, Black Forest Ham will stay good in the freezer for about 2 months.

Related >> How To Thaw Frozen Ham

Hope Davis

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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