Are you interested in trying a trendy uncured ham but don’t know much about it? You’ve come to the right place!
In this TheGrillingDad.com guide you’ll learn:
- All things uncured ham
- If you should eat uncured ham
- And much more!
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What is Uncured Ham?
Chances are if you’ve recently purchased a ham in the store, it likely had the label “cured” on it. But what does it mean when a ham is cured? Can you buy one uncured?
When a ham is cured, it means it has undergone a process in which it has been injected with chemicals and flavorings and then cooked. This process kills any bacteria that might be in the ham and makes it safe for consumers to eat.
A ham that hasn’t been injected with chemicals or is only injected with natural ingredients is called uncured ham. Sometimes these hams are labeled as “farm fresh” in the grocery store. They are typically less pink than cured hams due to the fact that they haven’t been injected with nitrates.
So because an uncured ham isn’t injected with nitrates, you may be wondering if it is still safe to eat. Read on to learn more about the curing process and whether or not you should consider purchasing an uncured ham this holiday season.
What is Curing?
While the curing process of ham involves injecting the ham with chemicals like nitrate, know that curing is not an inherently bad practice. The curing of meat has been around for centuries, as it simply refers to methods used to preserve meat.
In the past, curing meant that meat was preserved using acid, salt, sugar, or any combination of the above. These ingredients remove the moisture from the meat and allow it to stay good for long periods of time without spoiling.
Currently, many companies add sodium nitrate to their cured meats. This chemical is known to kill bacteria and give meat a longer shelf life. The problem? Sodium nitrate in large amounts can be bad for your health. Sodium nitrate has been linked to an increase in cancer, diabetes, and heart disease in populations around the world.
Therefore, many people assume it is better to eat uncured ham. The reality is you don’t need to look for uncured ham if you want to be healthy because the curing process is naturally healthy. Rather, you should look for meats that have been cured without the use of nitrates. You can typically read the ingredient list to find out how a cut of meat has been preserved.
Related >> How Long Does Ham Last in the Fridge?
Is it Safe to Eat Uncured Ham?
Because the curing process rids a cut of meat of bacteria and makes it safer to consume, many people wonder if it is even possible to eat uncured meat. The answer is absolutely!
Even though a product in the grocery store might be labeled as “uncured,” chances are it has still been cured, just using natural methods like celery salt and beets while skipping the chemicals like sodium nitrate. This makes choosing an uncured ham much healthier than choosing a cured one.
Keep in mind, however, that pork is generally not seen as a healthy meat. So even if it is healthier to pick an uncured ham over a cured one, it still isn’t a health food and should be consumed in moderation.
How to Cook an Uncured Ham
You don’t even need to worry about the cooking process, as most uncured hams are pre-cooked, just like cured ones. They can also be cooked exactly the same way, meaning there will be no hassle in switching your cured ham for an uncured one!
It is recommended to cook your ham at 325°F for 15 minutes per pound of ham. You’ll also want to check that the internal temperature of the ham reaches 145°F before you remove it from the oven.
You can also smoke a fresh ham as we did in this recipe: How to Smoke Fresh Ham.
One thing you will want to do is ensure you make your own glaze for your uncured ham. While we’ve established that uncured ham is still cured, it likely won’t have as much flavor injected into it as cured hams do. But this is easy to do, so don’t let the prospect of making your own glaze stop you from purchasing an uncured ham!
Where to Buy Uncured Ham
These days, most large grocery chains have a selection of cured and uncured hams around the holidays. Just look for those marked “fresh” or “organic,” then check the label to see if the ham contains nitrates.
If it’s off-season and you can’t find one at your local grocery store, then do a quick online search to see if there are any farms in your area that offer uncured ham. You can also speak with your local butcher. If all else fails, it is possible to order uncured hams online through different meat delivery services.