To Boil Ham or Gammon


Allow 30 minutes to the pound and 20 minutes more for pieces up to 5 lb. But a ham of 8–10 lb. should be cooked in 3½ hours. Test with a long skewer.

A sweet-cured or mild-cured ham does not require soaking before being boiled. Consult your grocer as to how salt the cure is likely to have made the meat, and soak for 12–24 hours accordingly.

Put the ham in cold water to cover with lb. (240 g, ) of soft dark sugar (or, even better, half dark sugar and half dark treacle) and 20 cloves, bring to the boil and keep gently boiling. It should do rather more than simmer but should not cook at a full, rolling boil. It will be even better if you use half beer, cider or red wine and half water.

Allow the ham to get cold overnight in the cooking liquid. Next day, remove and skin. Finish by dusting with browned crumbs or, even better, stick with a few more cloves, sprinkle thickly with brown sugar and put in an oven preheated to 400° F., gas mark 6 or 7, for 10 minutes, when the outside will be coated with a soft golden toffee.

A baked ham can be even better than a boiled one, as all the flavour is conserved. It is not worth while to bake a very small piece, but a piece of any size over 3 lb. ( k.) can be cooked in this way. A 4–lb. (2–k.) piece requires about ¾ lb. (360 g.) of flour to make the paste and should be baked for 1½ hours.