Production

Jambon d’Ardenne Saint-Hubert

When one says Saint-Hubert, many will think of the city in the Ardennes. The gourmands will immediately think ham exclusively distributed by Schietse, the Delicatessen Company. The Jambon d’Ardenne de Saint-Hubert, undoubtedly the number One treasure of the whole range, is produced in the Saint-Hubert artisanal company under strict quality control.

One has to know that the Romans had already observed and described the salting and smoking of hams by the Ardennes tribes of the time.

The Jambon d’Ardenne is protected since 1974 by an Arrêté Royal. This protection is guaranteed by the delivery of the European label (IGP-Indication Géographique Protégée). This implies that those hams can only be salted and dried in the Belgian Ardennes. One may solely use the ham of the rear legs of the pork, salted, spiced and smoke of hardwood.  Flavour enhancers and colouring agents are totally out of the question.  It is the one and only Belgian ham that conforms to such strict legal norms.

In accordance with the European legislation, compliance with the various production conditions and end product characteristics are regularly controlled by a certification body approved by public authorities, PROMAG S.P.R.L. This control is materialised by the mandatory apposition of a label or of a numbered seal, delivered by the intervening body. Thanks to this number, it is thereafter easy to identify the producer.

 

The norms are not everything!

Schietse wanted a ham that could rival with all European appellations... The typical "Ardennais" taste had become less familiar with the consumer.  Hams from Italian and Spanish origins became more and more important on the Belgian market. The workers at Saint-Hubert work in a different way to exhale the perfume and the typical flavour of the Saint-Hubert ham. Neither the salt, nor the spices or the smoke may prevail in the taste, but instead have to form a harmonious fragrance.

Production process

One starts with fresh ham. Two types exist. First the "jambon".  It is a complete piece with bone of about 11 to 12 kg. Then there is the “heart” that, as in the name, is the best part of the ham, and by definition boneless.  This part weighs 6.5 kg to start with.  It is called "Fleur d'Ardenne" or also "Coeur d'Ardenne". After having been smoked, it is shaped and gives nice slices.

Upon receipt, each ham is first subjected to meticulous controls. Failing a perfect matter, it cannot show good results. Then the hams are dry-salted: hams are brushed with salt.  After a 24 hours rest, hams go into brine for 5 weeks. 

This brine is essentially carrying the flavours and the spices that are used: thyme, laurel, juniper berries, cloves - our mix is a well preserved secret.  Professionals know that a good salting of a ham is far from easy.  You need enough salt for conservation, but a ham that is too salty is impossible to sell.  It is a craft in itself, more so even now that brine injection in the Jambon d'Ardenne is strictly forbidden.

After the salting, the maturation of the hams is done in a cold room.  They then are rinsed during 24 hours with fresh water to suppress most of the salt, then again smoked for approximately a week in the smoke of beech or oak sawdust to which one adds juniper berries.  And sometimes also broom and thyme. The smoking process lasts about a week.

By now the Jambon d'Ardenne has reached its exceptional solidity and starts the last step of the process.  Drying is done slowly, at a temperature of 13°C and preferably an 80% humidity level. The maturation time is set by legislation.  Hence, the Jambon d’Ardenne (with or without bone) must go through a 4 months preparation period, the ham called "heart" a minimum of 8 weeks.  Against all profitability rules, the management has chosen Quality: at Saint-Hubert, hams will dry a minimum of 7 to 8 months.

ISO 9001 certification, implementation of the HACCP norms, supervision of PROMAG and the Region Wallonne, monitored by the AFSCA, Saint-Hubert has it all.

Our Saint-Hubert hams are labelled "qualité d'origine (IGP) Jambon d'Ardenne".  And now the time has come to savour them.



"Europe gives you appetite?
Schietse offers its tastes and traditions!”