Carmarthen butcher celebrates award of protected status for ham
A recipe handed down by generations of a Carmarthen butcher’s family has been awarded protected status.
Carmarthen Indoor Market’s Albert Rees Butchers was given the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) for its Carmarthen ham recently by the European Union. PGI is one of three European designations created to protect regional foods that have a specific quality, reputation or other characteristics attributable to that area. It acts like a Trade Mark and stops manufacturers from outside a region copying a regional product and selling it as that regional product.
Albert Rees was set up in 1962 by Albert and Brenda Rees. In 1989 Chris and Ann Rees took over the business on the retirement of Chris's parents in Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock Market whilst his brother Jonathan and his family trade in Fishguard and Brecon.
Their family recipe for making the ham, which tastes similar to Parma ham, is a closely guarded secret but the basic process involves salt curing and air drying the hams for between nine months and a year. The curing is done in a specially converted building at their home, where Chris estimates he currently has 300 hams at varying stages of the curing process.
The result has become a Welsh delicacy, scooping various taste awards and appearing in restaurants in salads, wrapped round asparagus, served with melon and in countless other guises. Every slice sold can be traced back to Chris and Ann’s home, where the hams are lovingly tended each day.
The council’s executive board member for environmental services, Cllr Jim Jones said: “I am delighted for the Rees family and this award is testament to the work they have done by producing such a premium product.”
Carmarthen ham is by no means the only home-produced product to be sold by Chris and Ann. They also sell their own bacon, faggots, brawn, brisket and a variety of home cooked meats.
The council’s executive board member responsible for markets, Cllr David Jenkins said: “This is fantastic news for Carmarthen market and its customers demonstrating that they are being supplied with top quality produce.”
It was his father Albert who perfected the recipe for Carmarthen ham in the 1960s, in response to a request from a customer.
Local member, Cllr Mair Stephens said: “It’s so nice to see family traditions being maintained and I congratulate Albert Rees Butchers on their very special achievement and for putting their area on the map.”