Shovdra (Shovder) is the traditional name for the pork ham made by indigenous populations of the Carpathian Mountains – Hutsuls, Boykos, and Lemkos. The product emerged as a local way to preserve meat for the family.
Shovdra making usually began when the first frosts came and lasted only during the cold season. When the spring fast ended and Easter came, people took it from the attic, cooked, and ate during the holidays. Usually, on Easter holidays big piece of shovdra was brought to church to hallow.
To make shovdra, one or two pork legs (local white-coloured pig breed), depending on family size, were taken. Skin removed or left, then rubbed with salt, black pepper, garlic and red pepper and placed in a large container and left there for one week (patsuvali), turning occasionally. Then ham was removed from the container and smoked during 2-3 months. In the beginning, people smoked in the house attics (banti). When they relocated to newer houses without smoking room they equipped small smokehouses near the house, and the smoking changed from cold to hot. Ready-made shovdra usually weights 6-12 kg, has brownish-red color and milder or denser texture, depending on the duration of smoking. Mainly men were engaged in its preparation, since it requires physical strength.
Shovdra made part of many traditional recipes, like Paprikash. Cut into cubes shovdra was fried, then mixed with flour, and fried until golden colour. Sour cream, salt, pepper and paprika are added to taste. Paprikash was served with Kulesha (mashed potatoes with the adding of corn flour).
Shovdra was never sold on the market, since the mountainous terrain did not allow the product to be transferred to distance. It wasn’t also necessary, as each family produced the necessary quantity for household use. Currently shovdra’s cooking method is not popular anymore, due to less people living in the area and willing to engage in its preparation, as well as appearance of refrigerators and accessible roads and markets decreased family needs for food self-subsistence. It is not industrially produced, although there are private producers, but they are already more oriented towards the taste preferences of the modern consumer.