Leicestershire Cure


  • 14 lb. ham
  • 1 lb. bay salt
  • 2 oz. saltpetre
  • 1 oz. ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. coarse salt
  • lb. treacle


Rub ham all over with a mixture of bay salt, saltpetre, pepper and coarse salt. Leave for 4 days, rubbing and turning frequently then pour over the treacle. Leave for 4 weeks, turning and rubbing the ham thoroughly twice a week. At the end of this time, leave the ham to soak in cold water for 24 hours, then hang up to dry near a wood fire and smoke for 3 to 4 weeks.

To Store Hams

The hams should be put into calico bags or old pillow cases and hung in a cool dry place; alternatively they can be put into a box and covered with malt combs or broad bran. The Yorkshire way is to store them in a box packed with oak sawdust, and a large ham will not be at its peak of perfection in less than three months.

Baking a Ham in a Pastry Crust

Wash the ham in cold running water and leave to soak for 24 hours, changing the water several times. Make a flour and water paste, allowing about 2 lb. flour and 1 pint water for a large ham. Mix to an elastic dough and roll out on a lightly floured board to a size large enough to enclose the whole joint.

Place the ham in the centre of the paste, damp the edges and bring together to completely enclose the joint. Put into a roasting tin and bake for 15 minutes in a moderately hot oven, 400°F., Gas Mark 6, then lower the heat to moderate and bake at 350°F., Gas Mark 4, for the remainder of the cooking time; allow 30 minutes to the pound.

When cooked, remove from the oven, break off the crust and remove the rind. The ham can then be finished in either of the ways suggested for a boiled ham.

Boiling a Ham

First rinse the ham under cold running water, then leave to soak in fresh cold water for 24 hours, changing the water several times. Put into a large pan of cold water together with a good selection of vegetables and herbs, such as onions, carrots, celery, turnips, unpeeled apples, cloves, bay leaves; some people like to add a wisp of hay to give the ham a faint fragrant flavour. If liked, about 1 pint of cider to each gallon of water can be added, and/or 8 oz. sugar, and/or 1 lb. black treacle. The ham should then be very slowly brought to the boil and simmered gently for about 20 minutes to the lb. When the ham is cooked, leave it to become quite cold in the cooking water, then remove from the pan, drain and carefully remove the skin.

Ways of Finishing a Cooked Ham

The quickest and easiest way to finish a ham after the skin has been removed is just to sprinkle it all over with freshly browned breadcrumbs and put a ham frill round the bone. However, a ham also looks most attractive if glazed with sugar and mustard, and if this is how you wish to finish the ham, reduce the cooking time by about 30 minutes. After the skin has been removed, carefully score the fat into diamonds and then spread with a mixture of brown sugar and mustard; allow 2 tablespoons dry mustard to 8 oz. sugar, or if preferred just spread with black treacle. Stick a clove into the centre of each diamond and bake the ham in a moderately hot oven, 400°F., Gas Mark 6, for about 30 minutes or until the glaze is golden brown. It is important during baking to cover all the lean parts of the ham with foil to prevent them becoming dry. When the glaze is golden, remove the ham from the oven and allow to cool. If the cloves appear to have become a little dry during cooking, replace them with fresh ones. Finally decorate the ham with a frill.

Making a Ham Frill

Small linen grip-bands used to be made from scraps of old sheets or table-linen. These were about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide, with a draw string running through each long hem. With these, a piece of white paper, preferably greaseproof, is needed, about 6 inches square. Fold in half, cut inwards in narrow parallel snips from the fold, stopping short 1 inch from the edge. Open out the sheet, reverse the fold to the other side, and wrap round the greasy end of the bone. Fix in place with the grip-band, draw up the strings and tie them in a bow for easy removal. The frill is thrown away and the grip-band laundered.

Salting Beans

Beans are an ideal vegetable for salting as during their peak period even a few plants produce many more beans than can be eaten at one meal. It is not necessary to fill the jar all at once and it can be added to every day.

It is important to choose a suitable container; this should be either of glass or unglazed earthenware and should be wide enough at the top to enable you to put your hand inside to pack it firmly.

Choose fresh young beans and wash and string them. French beans should be left whole or, if very long, can just be broken in half; runner beans should be thinly sliced. For 3 lb. beans allow about 1 lb. salt. Use coarse cooking salt, as table salt causes the beans to go slimy. Pack the beans in layers with the salt, pressing down well between each layer and starting and finishing with a ½ inch layer of salt. Cover the jar with waxed paper (not metal as the salt will corrode it) and leave for 2–3 days, after which time the beans will have shrunk in the jar and need topping up. Again the layers must be finished with a layer of salt. Cover firmly with waxed paper and leave in a cool, dark place.

To prepare the beans for serving, rinse thoroughly in cold water and then leave to soak in cold water for about 2 hours to remove the salt. Cook in boiling water (without salt) for about 20 minutes.

The great advantage of this form of preservation is that during the growing season you will usually gather more beans than are needed for daily cooking. The surplus can always be added to the bean jar. They will probably darken in colour during storage, but it helps to keep the jar in a dark place.

Salting Nuts

Remove the shells of the nuts and throw away any that are withered or damaged in any way. Pack into a large glass or unglazed earthenware jar in layers with salt, starting and finishing with a ½ inch layer of salt. Cover with waxed paper and store in a cool place.

Salted nuts to serve with cocktails can easily be made at home. For 1 lb. dried shelled nuts, allow about 6 fluid ounces of olive oil. Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan, and gently fry the nuts in it until golden brown. Sprinkle in 1 rounded tablespoon of coarse cooking salt or celery salt and a little white pepper or cayenne pepper. Stir the nuts until they are evenly coated, then turn out on to kitchen paper and spread out to dry. When completely cold store in airtight containers.

Another Method of Preserving Nuts

This way enables you to preserve some of the nuts in salt and some in sugar. Shell the nuts (hazel nuts or filberts are particularly suitable) and blanch them in hot water for 1 minute. Rub on a clean cloth to remove the brown skins. Put a knob of butter into a thick saucepan, and fry the nuts to a pale brown. Drain on kitchen paper. Divide the nuts into two piles. Roll one lot in salt and the other in caster sugar while they are still hot. Allow to get cold. Store in airtight jars.