SMOKING: Beau Wales, Skye Turnbull and Des Barritt have been flat-out producing Christmas hams for the festive season.
SMOKING: Beau Wales, Skye Turnbull and Des Barritt have been flat-out producing Christmas hams for the festive season. Mike Knott BUN131217HAM1

What it takes to get ham on the plate for Chrissy

THE centrepiece of a traditional Australian Christmas dinner isn't the turkey like it is in the northern hemisphere.

Whether it's smoked, cold or baked, a leg of ham will be appearing on many Bundaberg tables on December 25.

The team at Barritt's Butchery pride themselves on knowing the ins and outs of a good piece of meat.

SMOKED HAM: Des Barritt in front of the smoker at Barritt'e Butchery.
SMOKED HAM: Des Barritt in front of the smoker at Barritt'e Butchery. Mike Knott BUN131217HAM4

Owner Des Barritt has been preparing hams for 40 years and says it comes down to good preparation of quality meat.

The small butcher store has been preparing this year's hams since the first week of November ready for the Christmas rush.

He said on average there would be about 350 pork legs turned into ham on site at the Svensson St business.

All their pork comes from the Biggenden Meat Works.

SMOKED HAM: Beau Wales de-boning a Christmas ham for the festive season.
SMOKED HAM: Beau Wales de-boning a Christmas ham for the festive season. Mike Knott BUN131217HAM3

The carcasses are sliced into sections, including the leg and shoulder, while bacon is also made from the middle section.

Legs destined to be hams are then injected with brine solution, before sitting in brine baths for up to five days - giving the meat its saltiness

"It is then smoked and cooked all in one process,” Mr Barritt said.

"Then they are almost ready for the festive season.

"Our hams come fully cooked and full of flavour.”

Mr Barritt said many of the small butchers depended on the Christmas period to get them through the rest of the year.

"It's the busiest time for us and all butchers around town,” he said.

Mr Barritt said a leg of ham would last between two to three weeks if it was looked after correctly.

SMOKED HAM: Beau Wales, Skye Turnbull and Des Barritt have been very busy producing Christmas hams for the festive season.
SMOKED HAM: Beau Wales, Skye Turnbull and Des Barritt have been very busy producing Christmas hams for the festive season. Mike Knott BUN131217HAM2

This includes wrapping it in a vinegar-soaked cloth in a cold fridge.

Barritt's have been in the same location for more than 12 years and Christmas sees repeat customers coming back year after year.

"Sometimes you don't see people all year but then they come in for the hams,” he said.

"We keep a record year after year of who orders what and we can look it up for them.”

Barritt Butcher will busy right up until next Saturday, and Mr Barritt said if there was one item not to skimp on this Christmas it was definitely a ham.



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