Westphalian Hams and Bacon Recipes


Westphalia is a region in Germany from where the most iconic hams in the history of ham making came. A key feature of the ham is that it is cold smoked. I give the complete list of Westphalian ham and bacon recipes available to me below. I suggest you read through all of them carefully and develop your own particular recipe. The two key features of the ham and bacon are that it must be cold smoked and I would use the Emperor of Russia’s Brine recipe, but it all depends on your own preference.

Background to Westphalian Ham

For the sake of authenticity, I suggest before attempting Westphalian ham or bacon, you read as background the following article: Westphalia Bacon and Ham & the Empress of Russia’s Brine: Pre-cursers to Mild Cured Bacon. The importance of cold smoking will become clear as well as using the right brining approach.

A Westphalian Ham and Bacon Recipes

-> From the Unknown American Cookbook

A very old American recipe book gives the recipe for Westphalian Ham as follows.  The process is dry curing.

Pork – 100
Salt – 4
Water or Ice – 20
Na or K Nitrate – 1

Hams Rubbed with salt and saltpeter.
Place in vat.
Cure, 4 weeks.
Air dry, 4 days.
Smoke with dry wood and juniper.

-> From the New Cyclopedia of Domestic Economy and Practical Housekeeping

The 1872 publication edited by Ellet, E. F and published by H. Bill, Norwich, Conn. boast “five thousand practical receipts and maxims from the best English, French, German, and American sources.” I quote the following from his work, The New Cyclopedia of Domestic Economy and Practical Housekeeping


As soon as the pig is cold enough to be cut up, take the two hams, and cut out the round bone, so as to have the ham not too thick: rub them with common salt, and leave them in a large pan for three days; when the salt has drawn out all the blood, throw the brine away, and proceed as follows: for two hams of about eighteen pounds each, take one pound of moist sugar, one pound of common salt, and two ounces of saltpetre, mix them together, and rub the hams well with it, then put them into a vessel large enough to contain them in the liquor, always keeping the salt over them; after they have been in this state three days, throw over them a bottle of good vinegar. One month is requisite to cure them; during which period they must be often turned in the brine; when you take them out, drain them well, powder them with some coarse flour, and hang them in a dry place. The same brine will serve again, except that you must not put so much salt on the next hams that you pickle. If the hams are smaller, put only three-quarters of a pound of salt, but the salt will not do any harm if you do not let them remain too long in the brine; if you can get them smoked, they are then not so subject to be infested by vermin; no insect whatever can bear the bitterness of the soot; the smoke of wood is preferable to the smoke of coal. Be particular that the hams are hung as far as possible from the fire, otherwise the fat will melt, and they will become dry and hard and rank.

The following are recipes collected from around the world by


Prepare the hams in the usual manner by rubbing them with common salt and draining them; take one ounce of saltpetre, half a pound of coarse sugar, and the same quantity of salt; rub it well into the ham, and in three days pour a pint of vinegar over it. A fine foreign flavor may also be given to hams by pouring old strong beer over them, and burning juniper wood while they are drying: molasses, juniper berries, and highly flavored herbs, such as basil, sage, bay leaves, and thyme, mingled together and the hams well rubbed with it, using only a sufficient quantity of salt to assist in the cure, will afford an agreeable variety.


Sprinkle each flitch with salt; and let the blood drain off for twenty – four hours. Then mix one pound and a half of coarse sugar, the same quantity of fine salt, six ounces of saltpetre, and four pounds of coarse salt; rub this well on the bacon, turning and wetting it in every part daily for a month; then hang it to dry, and afterwards smoke it ten days.

925. – A PICKLE

That will keep for years, for hams, tongues, or beef, if boiled and skimmed between each parcel of them. To two gallons of spring water put two pounds of coarse sugar, two pounds of coarse, and two and a half pounds of common salt, and half a pound of saltpetre, in a deep earthen glazed pan that will hold four gallons, and with a cover that will fit close. Keep the beef or hams as long as they will bear before you put them into the pickle; and sprinkle them with coarse sugar in a pan, from which they must drain. Rub the hams, & c., well with the pickle; and pack them in close, putting as much as the pan will hold, so that the pickle may cover them. The pickle is not to be boiled at first. A small ham may lie fourteen days; a large one three weeks; a tongue twelve days; and beef in proportion to its size. They will eat well out of the pickle without drying. When they are to be dried, let each piece be drained over the pan; and when it will drop no longer, take a clean sponge and dry it thoroughly. Six or eight hours will smoke them; and there should be only a little sawdust and wet straw burnt to do this; but if put into a baker’s chimney, sew them in a coarse cloth, and hang them a week. Add two pounds of common salt, and two pints of water, every time you boil the liquor.

Have a Westphalian recipe?

If you have a Westphalian recipe, please share it with me for inclusion here.

ebenvt@gmail.com or whatsapp on +27 071 5453029.

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