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HomeHome CookingYour Information to Shopping for a Vacation Ham – Leite's Culinaria

Your Information to Shopping for a Vacation Ham – Leite’s Culinaria

Confused about shopping for a vacation ham? We clarify the phrases and wording you could know to finish up with the very best ham on your Christmas or Easter dinner—or any dinner in between.

A cartoon of a woman contemplating different types of hamA cartoon of a woman contemplating different types of ham

: Kostiantyn Kobetskyi

Can we confess one thing? It may be intimidating to face on the retailer and be confronted with numerous vaguely-defined phrases on packages. Spiral-sliced. Cured. Uncured. Smoked. Contemporary. With pure juices. Water added. It’s sufficient to make you need to simply stroll away and order Chinese language for Easter and Christmas.

Right here’s the factor: With a little bit of vocabulary constructing, which we’re blissful to supply, you may get command over these advertising phrases so you’ll be able to discern what you need—and extra importantly, what you don’t need—in a vacation ham.

First, what’s ham?

Red and black Butcher's Pork Chart.Red and black Butcher's Pork Chart.
: foxysgraphic

Within the easiest phrases, ham is a minimize that comes from the rear leg of a pig. Contemporary ham is an uncured leg of pork and will need to have “recent” as a part of the identify. They’re the identical shade and texture as an raw pork roast and should at all times be cooked earlier than consuming. A cured ham has been preserved by moist (brining) or dry (salting) curing and is both smoked or unsmoked. Deep pink in shade, they are often bought as ready-to-eat or might require cooking. Cured hams are additionally bought as smoked and unsmoked.

That’s your start line. Learn on to seek out out the finer particulars about that delish, porky centerpiece.

What sort of ham ought to I not purchase?

You need to purchase one thing that’s labeled “ham.” That signifies one thing that’s at the least 20.5%  protein with no added water. “Ham with pure juices” is eighteen.5% protein with about 8% added water. “Ham with water added” should include at the least 17% protein with as much as 10% water. And also you undoubtedly don’t desire a “ham and water product.” It will possibly include any quantity of water and may have a spongy texture and an unpleasantly moist mouthfeel. Backside line: Whenever you’re standing within the grocery store, go for simply “ham.” Each time and with out fail.

Now that the pretenders to the throne have been banished, let’s think about the numerous kinds true, actual, sincere ham is available in and what they imply.


Many hams are supplied pre-sliced, which is usually known as “spiral-sliced.” Spiral-sliced refers to bone-in hams, which are likely to retain extra taste and moisture than boneless hams, which typically tackle a little bit of a processed-ham feel and appear. Spiral-sliced hams usually include their very own glaze packet and whereas these are handy and style alright, please ditch them. Making your personal ham glaze will certainly amp up that pork. It’s a cinch and you may declare possession over that beautiful hunk o’ meat.

Spiral Ham carved and sitting on a white platter with cut oranges and fresh herbs.Spiral Ham carved and sitting on a white platter with cut oranges and fresh herbs.
: fahrwasser

One thing to recollect: Spiral-sliced, bone-in ham tends to dry out and “frill” within the oven greater than complete, unsliced bone-in ham. Protecting yours with foil till the final 10 to twenty minutes of roasting will assist to maintain it from turning into pink leather-based. A spiral-sliced ham is your greatest guess when you’re petrified of standing in entrance of visitors attempting to gracefully hack your manner across the bone come carving time.


Most market hams have been smoked, which imbues the meat with something starting from barely perceptible to sock-you-in-your-mouth taste. Check out the label to see what sort of wooden chips have been used. Hickory goes to impart a extra pronounced and bolder smokiness than applewood. Each cooked and raw hams may be smoked, so make certain to have a look at the label to resolve which you favor.

Smoked Ham sliced on butcher's paper.Smoked Ham sliced on butcher's paper.
: fajerd

A cooked, smoked ham may be eaten instantly and is ideal for sandwiches or an off-the-cuff dinner when you don’t need to spend time heating it, but it surely’s tremendous straightforward to heat up when you’re aiming for a scorching dinner. An raw smoked ham will clearly state on the label that it must be “cooked totally,” simply in case you’re uncertain of what you’ve bought.


A glazed ham on a cutting board with several slices cut from the end and a carving fork and knife resting beside it.A glazed ham on a cutting board with several slices cut from the end and a carving fork and knife resting beside it.
: DK Publishing

A glazed ham is fairly self-explanatory: It’s a ham that has been pre-glazed. So, when you’re holding a replica of our glazed ham recipe as you stand on the butcher counter, then you definately need to purchase a ham that doesn’t already come injected or glazed with honey or maple. The rationale? You don’t need the flavors of the recipe that you just’re going to slather everywhere in the outdoors of the ham competing with the flavour that’s already been injected into the ham. That would additionally get fairly rattling candy.

What about metropolis vs. nation ham?

For probably the most half, a metropolis ham is what you recognize as a ham. These are the moist, thick (usually spiral-cut) pre-cured hams that you just serve in the course of the holidays. Nation ham, however, is widespread in Appalachia, Virginia, and Tennessee. They’re served extra thinly sliced and are saltier and drier than a metropolis ham. When you’ve by no means ready one, bear in mind that they’re much completely different than a mean ham. Nation ham is scrumptious, belief us, if you recognize what you’re doing.

How a lot ham must you purchase?

Determine between 1/2 and three/4 pound per particular person if it’s a bone-in ham. For a boneless ham, you’ll need about 1/3 pound per particular person. And, natch, enable for extra when you’re the kind who anticipates ham leftovers.

How far upfront can I purchase a vacation ham?

Most hams come shrink-wrapped in packaging so that they’re secure to stash in your fridge, unopened, for a number of days. And, bear in mind, the ham you discover at your grocery retailer is almost certainly already cured or cooked by and easily requires warming.

Initially printed March 23, 2019



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