Hagen's Christmas Hams : Traditional Vs. Natural

by Oliver Hagen November 05, 2020 2 min read

Hagen's Christmas Hams : Traditional Vs. Natural

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Wondering which ham to select for your Christmas Day celebrations?

We are here to chat about the difference between Natural & Traditional Ham, and what you might need to know when selecting your ham. You may have heard the terms, ‘naturally cured’, ‘nitrate free’ or ‘traditionally cured’ thrown around, most people are left questioning ‘what’s the difference?’. These terms refer to the process the ham has undergone called ‘curing’. This is when it turns from being pork meat to ham.

At Hagen’s, we make all of our hams by hand, on a small scale to ensure quality and taste of the ham. We also source all of our pork from a local farm, McIvor Farm. Which means your hams haven’t traveled long food miles to get to you!

Here is the basic breakdown of how our curing process works:

Ham is made by brining (soaking salty water) the leg of a pig to cure it. Curing is the oldest form of preservation of meat and fish and is done using salts and additives to preserve the flavour, texture and colour so it can be safely eaten in the future. It can be helpful to think of the cure as a type of marinade – that you rub all over the meat to impart flavour, colour and begin the cooking process.

We use two different types of cures to make two types of ham, ournatural cure and ourtraditional cure. See the breakdown below: 


Our traditional cure contains nitrates that combine with the salt in the curing process. These nitrates add to the smokey flavour that we have come to know and love in our ham. It also helps create that beautiful, blush pink colour of ham. Over the years we have developed our traditional cure using family recipes and techniques, and also working out what is the best for our health. We have worked out the best recipe that uses the least amount of salt, which allows the flavour of the pork to be the hero. 


Our natural cure is made using nitrates derived from celery. Celery has naturally occurring nitrates in them, this is then extracted and used in addition to salt to help preserve the ham. For those health conscious individuals, nature cure is a great option as these nitrates are naturally occurring in plants and vegetables.

Natural ham is usually a little more toned down in colour, it sometimes can have a grey tone. This is due to the fact that the cure being used is natural and does not affect the colour. Our Natural hams can also be sweeter.


Once the ham is cut and cured, it is then smoked in our state of the art smokers - all the way from Germany! . This is done at a low temperature using woodchips which helps create that beautiful smokey flavour.  

Once smoked, the ham can be eaten. Naturally cured ham can last from 3-4 weeks when cared for correctly. And traditional cured hams can last between 5-6 weeks. Be sure to check your packaging when it arrives for your use by date. 

You can shop our range of Christmas hams above.