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The upper part of the rear leg of a pig, cured and dried.

Much of the ham, sold as such in supermarkets is in fact either shoulder, or made from reformed meat, and should not be labelled ham at all. Furthermore, a generation of Englishmen have been brought up to believe that one of the main ingredients in ham is water. This is in no way traditional, but introduced by the injection of brine into the meat to speed up the curing process; so although the symptoms are different, ham has suffered the fate of Cheddar - that of being manufactured for the convenience of the mass producer.

In Britain, the best hams, and pork in general come from cheese producing areas - since the left over whey makes excellent feed for pigs. See ' 'Ham, to Cook'; For the best hams, see our Mail Order section.

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