A Culinary Heritage from the South East of France
The Bayonne Ham is a thousand year-old tradition from the Adour river basin region. Famous French aristocrats –like Rabelais or the French king Henri IV – were very fond of this type of ham. Nowadays the Bayonne ham has a very good reputation all over Europe.
The legend has it that Gaston Phoebus killed a wild boar hunting but his men couldn’t find it. One year later, they found the dead wild boar in a salted water fountain. The beast’s hams were perfectly preserved and very tasty, the Bayonne ham was born. Since 1462, Bayonne holds every year a ham fest where farmers come to open the Easter’s festivities, offering their traditionally made Bayonne ham.
This traditional French product has been protected by the European “Protected Geographical Indication – PGI” since 1998. This means that the Bayonne ham can only be produced with a very specific know-how, in the Atlantic Pyrénées administrative region and some outlying cantons from the Landes, Gers and High Pyrénées, with pigs exclusively grown and slaughtered in the South West of France.
A Nine Month-long Process
Curing, maturing and preparing a Bayonne ham is almost a year long. All along the seven steps of that precise transformation a wide range of conditions must be respected to comply with the Bayonne ham specifications.
Then the hams enter the drying stage. Hams are hung from a beam, ready to start a long maturation process during which the hams will develop the specific flavor, aromas and melting texture of a Bayonne ham. After a few months of drying, the hams undergo a “pannage” step, which prevents the ham from drying out and seals the flavor. The muscle part of each ham is covered with a mixture made of pork grease and flour that will protect its aromas until the end of the process.
After another few months of maturing, the hams are judged by expert “noses” who will determine if the ham is consistent with the expected Bayonne ham quality. The final step is the application of the “Bayonne” seal, which carries the Basque cross or “Lauburu.”
To learn more about Bayonne Ham, visit the following website: