What to Know Before You Purchase a Ham

April 9, 2019 9:50 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

If you don’t cook ham very often, you might have a hard time figuring out exactly what you should purchase. With Easter dinner coming right up around the corner, it’s the biggest time of year for people to purchase hams, so it’s important to have a good idea of what you’re getting yourself into.

With this in mind, here’s some general information you should know about ham that will help you as you go through the process of picking one for your upcoming holiday dinner.

Types of ham

There are a few different categories of ham that you may come across at the grocery store or deli in Williamsport, PA.

A fresh or green ham is both uncooked and uncured. You won’t typically come across this type of hams at your local grocery store, but if you do purchase a fresh ham, you can either roast or bake it right away, cure it and then bake it, smoke it and then bake it, or otherwise cook it.

A cured ham is a ham that’s been flavored with salts, sugars and other herbs and flavorings, which is the process that turns the cut of meat into what we know as ham. A wet-cured ham gets soaked in a brine of salt, sugar and other flavorings. This ham can also be smoked. The most common such ham is a “city ham,” which can be either soaked in or injected with the brine and then lightly smoked or boiled.

Dry-cured hams, meanwhile, use salt rather than liquid to add the flavor to the ham. The salt removes moisture from the meat, concentrating its flavors. This is often sold at specialty shops and butchers. Examples include prosciutto, Serrano ham and Black Forest ham. You may also be familiar with country ham, a type of ham that’s dry-cured with salt, occasionally smoked and then aged. These hams are popular and traditional in the southern United States.

Finally, you have smoked hams, which are another type of ham under the umbrella of cured hams. Before the ham can be smoked, it must be salt-cured or brined. It can then spend hours to days in a smokehouse so the smoky flavor can properly seep into the meat.

Bone or no bone?

You also have the option of purchasing bone-in or boneless ham. Your choice here really depends on your own personal preferences.

Boneless hams are, unsurprisingly, easier to slice up. However, most of the time this will not actually be a whole ham. Instead, it’s just pieces of ham that have been gelled together.

A bone-in ham, then, is going to be a bit more of an authentic ham experience. It has more flavor, because the bone does lend some flavor to the meat. Plus, you can use the leftover bone to make a soup or a ham stock after you’ve eaten the rest of the ham.

Still on the hunt for your Easter ham? All of our hams, ham ends, ham steaks and smoked pork chops at Tony’s Delicatessen & Fresh Meats come fully cooked—all you need to do is heat them through to prepare your meal. For more information about what we have in stock at our deli in Williamsport, PA, contact us today.

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