As the name implies, smoked ham is a piece of ham that has been smoked, either through a smokehouse or a smaller and sometimes portable smoker. If ham is already tasty as it is, then why smoke it? Good question. Some believe that adding a smoky flavor to the meat improves the meat’s taste. Smoking also helps preserve the meat. Because this has been practiced for a long time in different parts of the world, it only means that it is true, that the smoke from burning wood is beneficial.
You can smoke any kind of ham – spiral, non-cut, bone-in or any kind of ham can be smoked. You can buy cooked ham and smoke it, or buy smoked ham instead. Some even go to the extent of having the ham twice smoked.
Smoked Ham Trivia
- Sloke One made a giant paint-by-numbers mural. The subject? A giant sandwich, specifically, Schlotzsky’s signature sandwich The Original. The ingredients include a lean, smoked ham.
- The practice of smoking meat has been practiced by humans as early as the Paleolithic Era.
- The Guinness World Record for the most expensive leg of ham belongs to Taishi Co., Ltd. in Japan which sells a leg of ham that costs $13,183.1 (¥1,429,000; £9,982.63; €11,881.3). The feat was recorded in February of 2020.
- Besides ham and other red meat, there’s smoked white meat and seafood as well.
- Smoking requires the use of seasoned hardwood or wood pellets, not softwood because of the increased PAH from the resin.
- There are two types of smoking: cold smoking (below 90 °F or 32 °C, meant to preserve the meat) and hot smoking (160 °F or 71 °C, meant to slow-cook the meat).
Smoked Ham Buying Guide
Where to buy smoked ham? Your first stop should be the supermarket or grocery. If it is not available there, look for specialty stores, butcher shops, or delicatessen selling smoked meats. Your last option is ordering online. Ordering online is convenient, but buying from the store is still better because you can inspect the product before you pay for it.
If this is your first time eating smoked ham, buy in small quantities first. While smoked ham, in general, tastes good, there is still a chance you may not like the smoky flavor (and it is not unusual), and should this happen, it is a good thing you didn’t buy a lot. It is important not to be wasteful when it comes to the food we buy.
If this is your first time buying smoked ham and you don’t know which brand to buy, ask friends for recommendations or read online reviews. Or simply read the packaging and choose the healthiest option from the items available. Read the details in the packaging and compare details like sodium content to help you decide which is a better choice for you.
Check the expiration date or best-before date. If you are planning to cook it later or stock up, make sure to buy a smoked ham with an expiration or best before date suitable to the date you are planning to cook it.
Check the packaging for signs of tampering or product safety issues. The safety and quality of the product may have been compromised during transport and handling. In any case, do not buy a smoked ham with damaged packaging. Report this to the store attendant so that it is checked, and if necessary, removed from the freezer or shelf to avoid having customers less attentive to details buy it.
Smoked Ham Production & Farming in Texas
The primary goal of smoking ham is to infuse smoky flavor into the meat and help preserve it. Smoking requires the use of a kiln or smoker or a smokehouse. The smoky flavor of the ham depends on what kind of wood was used during smoking. It could be oak, hickory, maple, or other types of wood ideal for smoking. Both meat and wood are readily available in Texas.
Many commercial businesses in Texas produce and/or sell smoked hams. For example, the store Texas by Texans sells Black Forest Smoked Ham and other smoked meats. Kreuz Market, located in Lockhart, Texas, sells its signature Texas smoked BBQ Pit Ham. New Braunfels Smokehouse in New Braunfels, Texas, sells spiral-sliced ham.
If you are dining out, many restaurants in Texas serve smoked ham. The Branding Iron, a restaurant in Wichita Falls, Texas has smoked ham on the menu.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
Preservatives such as sodium nitrite (E-250) and sodium nitrate (E-252) are used in dry-curing ham. Nitrates and nitrites protect consumers from botulism. It is also used to make the meat appear redder, as well as to improve the aroma of the ham. However, the danger posed by these inorganic compounds found in ham is the potential to cause cancer.
Other additives include the antioxidant sodium ascorbate (E-301), which is used to reduce the adverse effects produced by preservatives, and the acidulants trisodium citrate (E-331-iii), which is used to regulate the meat’s pH (acidity) and reinforce the role of antioxidants.
Smoked ham is available in different parts of the world. In the US, smoked ham is a staple in the US meat industry. You can find smoked hams in Indianapolis, Memphis, Idaho, and other places in the US.
In Europe, there are specific kinds of ham that are normally smoked. In Prague, there is a brine-cured, stewed, and mildly beechwood-smoked boneless ham. England’s York ham is a lightly smoked, dry-cured ham. Germany has a lot of smoked hams, like the Black Forest ham (smoked ham produced in the Black Forest region of Germany), the Ammerländer Schinken which is a dry-cured, smoked ham produced in the Ammerland area of northern Germany, the Westphalian ham (smoked over a mixture of beechwood and juniper branches). Njeguški pršut is a specialty of the Njeguši village in Montenegro. In Italy, there’s Speck Alto Adige PGI, a dry-cured, lightly smoked ham produced in South Tyrol, northern Italy.
However, it could be difficult – if not impossible – to find smoked hams in countries where the majority of the population do not eat pork.
Smoked ham from the deli is usually wrapped in butcher paper packaging or sold wrapped in a stockinette. A tray is used for sliced smoked ham sold in smaller quantities, covered with sealed plastic wrap. Smoked ham sold in the frozen section of the supermarket or grocery is sold in a sealed plastic pack that is compatible with a thermoforming machine for a modified atmosphere or vacuum options during packing.
The label is important in the packaging of the smoked ham. For one, it indicates the ingredients found in the product – some contain only cured ham, while others are sold with brine, water, or natural juices in them. The label also informs the consumers what preservatives or additives are present in the food.
Enjoying Smoked Hams
Ham is sliced into smaller, thinner slices and used as filling for sandwiches. Ham and ham and cheese sandwiches are very popular sandwiches. Ham is also a popular pizza topping. Ham and eggs is a popular breakfast Christmas ham is a traditional Christmas food served during Christmas eve dinner.
Because of the carcinogenic nature of ham preservatives used in curing, eating hams in excess can cause cancer.
Make sure that the temperature where ham is stored is not in the 40°F and 140°F range because this is the temperature where bacteria grows quickly. You can store fresh ham and cured ham in the refrigerator. How long it will keep depends on what type of ham it is, and how fresh the ham was when you bought it, as well as other factors. Leftover ham should be refrigerated immediately. Wrap it in butcher paper. If you are not cooking ham in the next four days, it is best to put it in the freezer. For more specific instructions, refer to the details below:
- Uncooked ham will keep in the refrigerator for 7 days or until the best-before date. In the freezer, this will keep for 3 to 4 months. Uncooked ham that you’ve already cooked will keep for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator and 1-2 months in the freezer.
- For unopened fully-cooked vacuum-sealed at the plant, this will keep in the refrigerator until the expiration date. In the freezer, this will keep for 2 months. If opened, this will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days and 1-2 months in the freezer.
- For fully-cooked store-wrapped ham, refrigerate for no more than 7 days, while half ham and ham slices will keep for 5 days max. All three types will keep for 1-2 months in the freezer.
- You can refrigerate uncooked country ham (uncut) for a year, while cut ham for 3 months or 1 month in the freezer. Cooked country ham can be stored in the refrigerator for 7 days max or 1 month in the freezer.
- Do not freeze unopened canned ham that requires refrigeration. Refrigerate it and it will keep for 9 months. Opened canned ham can stay in the fridge for 7 days max or 1-2 months in the freezer. Shelf-stable canned ham, if unopened, can be stored in the fridge where it will keep for 2 years. Once it is opened, you can store it but for 4 days only in the fridge and 2 months in the freezer.
- Uncooked fresh ham will keep in the fridge for 5 days or 6 months. Cooked fresh ham will keep in the fridge for 4 days or 4 months in the freezer.
Make your own Smoked Ham Cornbread Sandwich
If you want to eat ham and cheese, grilled cheese, and cornbread all in one sitting from a single plate, this is the one for you. We all love ham and cheese, grilled cheese, and cornbread, and I am sure we will absolutely enjoy eating our Smoked Ham Cornbread Sandwich. This recipe takes 10 minutes to prep and 30 minutes of cooking time. But I am sure this is worth the effort and the wait.
This recipe makes 1 serving
First, the cornbread. You have three options here. First, you can make cornbread from scratch. Option number two is using store-bought cornbread. The last option is buying freshly-made cornbread. Making cornbread from scratch is good because you get to learn to make something new. The downside is time, and if you fail on your first try, you are also delaying making the sandwich. Buying freshly-made cornbread is a good idea. You are supporting the small business of another local and it allows you to focus on making and enjoying the sandwich, especially if you do not have the luxury of time to make homemade cornbread.
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon chow chow
- 1 4″ square of cornbread, sliced in half
- 1/3 cup shredded cheddar
- 1/4 pound smoked ham, shaved thin
- 1 tablespoon pickled jalapeños
*note: optional: you can add more, like greens (i.e. spinach, lettuce), tomato slices, jalapeños, and salsa.
Step 1. Mix the mayonnaise and chow chow
Step 2. Put the cornbread slices on a nonstick baking sheet. Spread the chow chow-mayo mix on the cornbread and add cheddar.
Step 3. Broil in the oven until the cheese has melted.
Step 4. Add the ham and jalapeños.
Step 5. Top with a slice of cornbread and slice in half.