Coombe Farm Organic is now The Organic Butchery. New name, same great values. The Organic Butchery - your destination for the highest quality, ethically butchered organic meat.
High-Welfare Sustainable Meat Regenerative Farming
The Organic Butchery

Your new favourite product

12th August 2022
Organic Nitrate-Free Ham
Tags: Butchery

Organic Nitrate-Free Ham

At The Organic Butchery, we take pride in the way we make our hams, all the way from the slow-rearing of our organic pigs to the natural curing and smoking processes to bring out the best flavours and texture. But you’ll have noticed that not all hams are created equal. From formed hams (SPAM anyone?), mechanically pressed together from many individual meat cuts and pumped with water, to salty slices from whole joints cured in a jumble of chemicals, it can be mind-boggling when looking at the supermarket shelves.  

For a guarantee of natural, high-welfare ham, look no further than the Soil Association symbol. Our pigs grow slowly in a high welfare, totally free-range organic system that gives them the freedom to roam, run and rootle in sociable family groups. A Saddleback-Gloucester Old Spot crossbreed, they thrive in the climate of the West Country. Being able to follow their natural instincts is vital for these intelligent animals and they live outdoors as much as the weather allows, with access to pig arks so they can shelter from the rain and sun. 

Living outdoors is obviously vital for the wellbeing of these intelligent creatures, but it’s also vital to produce top-quality pork. Muscles that have had plenty of active exercise produce flavoursome meat with great texture. In industrial systems, pigs are routinely given antibiotics to fend off diseases that are spread due to the high density of the population. This never happens with our organic, outdoor pigs – their lifestyle gives them effective natural immune systems, and their diet of grass, hay and concentrated food helps them grow at the rate nature intended, approximately 6-8 months. 

How do we make our hams?

Ham is the technical term for a cooked gammon, a joint cut from the hind leg of the pork carcass. This a fabulously complex piece of meat, compromising a powerful group of lean muscles, their connective tissues and a generous layer of fat. The flavour is intense with a robust texture, making it perfect for the traditional ham we know and love. 

Just like our award-winning bacon range, our butchers dry cure our ham by hand to produce a salty-sweet flavour using just two simple ingredients, sea salt and organic demerara sugar, in the traditional way. All our organic ham is dry cured for up to 2 weeks, and once its cooked and cooled, we either leave whole or slice before freezing, ready for you to enjoy at home. Our honey-glazed hams are coated with organic honey to add a touch of delicious sweetness, whilst our smoked hams are naturally smoked over oak for 16 hours.  

We choose not to use nitrites and nitrates in our curing process because we believe using natural ingredients is not only better for your health and the environment, but they taste better too! As a result, our hams are a darker, more traditional colour, packed with flavour and totally chemical-free. 

What are nitrites and nitrates used for?  

Hams and bacon are normally cured using nitrites and nitrates to speed up the curing process (saving producers money), preserve the meat (not necessary for us due to our method of freezing) and is responsible for the intense pink colour in conventional processed meat products.  

Using a salt/sugar mix is the only way to guarantee that our ham and bacon is nitrate/nitrite free - as even plant source alternatives like celery and beetroot contain naturally occurring nitrates and nitrites that have the same effect on the human body as artificial ones when used in the meat curing process. 

Studies carried out by the WHO, UK, US and European universities suggest a link between the consumption of nitrite-cured meat and bowel cancer, the cause of over 10,000 deaths in the UK every year, as well as breast and prostate cancers. With recent calls from leading scientists and a cross-party group of MPs and peers urging UK ministers to ban the use of nitrites to protect public health, we are proudly sticking to natural ingredients only in our curing process*  

“It’s not so much nitrates/nitrites per se [that are carcinogenic], but the way they are cooked and their local environment that is an important factor,” says Kate Allen, executive director of science and public affairs at the World Cancer Research Fund. “For example, nitrites in processed meats are in close proximity to proteins (specifically amino acids). When cooked at high temperatures this allows them to more easily form nitrosamines, the cancer-causing compound.”** 

The range 

We have three delicious flavours to choose from - Organic Nitrate-Free Ham, Organic Nitrate-Free Honey-Glazed Ham and Organic Nitrate-Free Smoked Ham.  

You can buy as a 1.5kg or 2.5kg whole joint, as 200g sliced packs or, for a true no-waste item, look no further than our Organic Nitrate-Free Ham Ends. 

Shop Organic Ham

*Source – Nitrites in bacon: MPs and scientists call for UK ban over cancer fears | Pork | The Guardian 

**Source - The truth about the nitrates in your food - BBC Future