Hams should always be soaked in water previous to boiling, to draw out a portion of the salt, and to make them lender. They will soften more easily if soaked in lukewarm water. If it is a new ham, and not very salt or hard, you need not put it in water till the evening before you intend to cook it. An older one will require twenty-four hours' soaking; and one that is very old and hard should be kept in soak two or three days, frequently changing the water, which must be soft. Soak it in a tub, and keep it well covered. When you take it out of the water to prepare it for boiling, scrape and trim it nicely, and pare off all the rough-looking parts.
Early in the morning put it into a large pot or kettle with plenty of cold water. Place it over a slow fire that it may heat gradually; it should not come to a boil in less than an hour and a half, or two hours. When it boils, quicken the fire, and skim the pot carefully. Then simmer it gently four or five hours or more, according to its size. A ham weighing fifteen pounds should simmer five hours after it has come to a boil. Keep the pot well skimmed.
When it is done, take it up, carefully strip off the skin, and reserve it to cover the ham when it is put away cold. Rub the ham all over with some beaten egg, and strew on it fine bread-raspings shaken through the lid of a dredging box. Then place it in an oven to brown and crisp, or on a hot dish set over the pot before the fire. Cut some writing paper into a handsome fringe, and twist it round the shank-bone before you send the ham to table. Garnish the edge of the dish with little piles or spots of rasped crust of bread.
In carving a ham, begin not quite in the centre, but a little nearer to the hock. Cut the slices very thin. It is not only a most ungenteel practice to cut ham in thick slices, but it much impairs the flavour.
When you put it away after dinner, skewer on again the skin. This will make it keep the better.
Bacon also should be well soaked before it is cooked; and it should be boiled very slowly, and for a long time. The greens may be boiled with the meat. Take care to skim the pot carefully, and to drain and squeeze the greens very well before you send them to table. If there are yellow streaks in the lean of the bacon, it is rusty, and unfit to eat.