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Is it possible to make a Bradenham ham at home in time for Christmas, and how? I see plenty of smoked hams in butchers' shops in December but never this particularly rich and succulent type.

Is it possible to make a Bradenham ham at home in time for Christmas, and how? I see plenty of smoked hams in butchers' shops in December but never this particularly rich and succulent type.

PJP Thomasson, Old Coulsdon, Surrey

According to Traditional Foods of Britain: An Inventory (Prospect Books, £19.50), Bradenham ham is an unsmoked cured ham with black skin and brown-tinted fat due to its immersion in molasses and spices (juniper and coriander) for a month between curing and maturing. This gives it a particular sweetness. It was produced in Wiltshire a century ago, then in Yorkshire. That company no longer exists, though it retains the trademark. Sandridge Farm near Chippenham, Wiltshire (01380 850304) makes Bromham ham which is similar to Bradenham, and sells it for Christmas. They won't reveal their recipe, but if you're intent on making your own dry-cured ham, Jane Grigson's Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery (Grub Street, £14.99) gives a general method for dry-curing pork. You'll need sea or rock salt, saltpetre, a plastic bucket or large stone crock, and at least six months. That's how long the process from fresh meat, through curing and air-drying, to matured ham takes. Start with a leg of pork with the right amount of fat. Heal Farm Meats (0176 9574341) will prepare and supply a leg from an appropriate breed. You'll be just in time for Christmas if you start now.

You can e-mail me at truffler@independent.co.uk or write to Dear Truffler, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS. Sorry, I can't reply personally but I will do my best to truffle around for answers and reveal them here.

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