What Does Black Forest Ham Taste Like?

You’re waiting at the deli counter to get your weekly ham. When you look at the board, you notice Black Forest ham is on sale this week. Should you give it a try?

Black Forest ham is extra salty because the wood used to smoke it pulls out more moisture than other hams. It also has a light, smokey flavor and some notes of garlic, pepper, and coriander. The spices are placed on before smoking, giving it its distinctive black edges.

How similar is Black Forest ham to a more common Virginia ham? 

Black Forest Ham vs Virginia Ham

Virginia ham, also known as country ham, is probably the more commonly known of the two. You probably know how that tastes, but here’s a rundown on the difference between the two.

Virginia Ham

Virginia ham is smoked over wood from oak, walnut, apple, and hickory trees. It’s then cured for at least a year. Curing is when you preserve the meat in salt and spice, which also removes excess water.

This makes for a mild-flavored, dry ham. 

Black Forest Ham

Black Forest ham is coated in spices such as garlic, salt, pepper, and coriander.  Then it’s smoked over pine or fir trees. 

The trees and spices give Black Forest Ham a more complex, smokey, slightly spicier flavor than Virginia ham. It’s also more moist, as, unlike the Virginia ham, it isn’t cured before smoking.

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How to Eat Black Forest Ham

Since Black Forest ham, and most deli hams, are cured and cooked prior to sale, you don’t need to cook it. 

However, if you prefer your ham warm, be prepared that heating it in the oven may make it dry. If you want to heat it and keep its moisture try this:

  • Put the ham on a metal rack slightly elevated in a baking dish
  • Add water into the baking dish covering the bottom about half of an inch
  • Cover the baking dish in tin foil
  • Heat at about 325 degrees until the desired temperature is reached

How to Tell If Your Black Forest Ham Has Gone Bad

If you can’t remember when you bought your Black Forest ham, you might be concerned about its freshness.

When Black Forest Ham goes bad, the texture, color, and smell all change. A good Black Forest ham will be moist, pink, and smell a little peppery.

If your Black Forest Ham has gone bad, it will take on a slimy texture, like bad salmon. The color may change from pink to gray, and its odor will be sour. If you see any of these changes, discard your ham and do not eat.

A More Intense Ham

While both Virginia ham and Black Forest ham are smoked and salted, they do have a different flavor palate. 

Black Forest ham has a more intense flavor than its country counterpart. In part from the spices and wood types used for smoking, Black Forest has a smokey, spicier flavor. It also holds its moisture better and is less dry than Virginia ham.