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What Do the Labels on Ham Mean?

GRILLING, BBQ & SMOKING

What Do the Labels on Ham Mean?


It can be difficult to choose a ham for your family, especially near the holidays. See what all those labels on ham mean and make the best decision for you.

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What Do the Labels on Ham Mean?

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The labels on ham tell you everything, from what type of meat it is (ham, of course!) to if any water was added, to how you should cook it, to anything else that might have been added. Dig right in to the label translations, then dig in to a delicious ham!

Ham

The most basic, but what exactly is a ham? A ham is from the back leg of a pig.

What Do The Labels on Ham Mean? from My Fearless Kitchen. It can be difficult to choose a ham for your family, especially near the holidays. See what all those labels on ham mean and make the best decision for you.

Ham can have some water added. Adding water (with other ingredients) is one of the ways that hams are cured. But in order to be labeled simply “ham,” it must be at least 20.5% protein.

Ham, Natural Juices

Any ham product with the label “ham, natural juices” has had the natural juices from the pork added back to it. This mean must be at least 18.5% protein.

Ham, Water Added

Anything bearing the label “ham, water added” has had some water added to it. The meat must be at least 17.0% protein, with 10% added water solution.

Ham and Water Products

Anything that is labeled as “ham and water products” must also list the amount of added water. The label should say “Ham and water products, XX% of weight is added ingredients.” This applies to any ham product with less than 17% protein.

As more water is added to ham, it will be less expensive per pound. But these less expensive meats also tend to have a blander flavor, and may have a different texture than what you will find in a ham with less added water.

Pre-Cooked / Smoked / Ready-to-Eat

Most hams that you find in the grocery store will have one of these labels on it. Almost all ham that you can easily find in the grocery store is cured and/or smoked and ready to eat. That means that you could – if you wanted – slice it up and eat it cold. But you can also – if you want – cook it again, add some fun flavors, and eat it warm.

When you are cooking this type of ham, you should heat it until the internal temperature is at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius). If the ham was not processed in a USDA-inspected facility, then you should cook it until the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit (73.9 degrees Celsius).

Almost every ham in a grocery store in the United States will have been processed in a USDA-inspected facility. Just look for the USDA stamp. It should look like one of these:

What Do The Labels on Ham Mean? from My Fearless Kitchen. It can be difficult to choose a ham for your family, especially near the holidays. See what all those labels on ham mean and make the best decision for you.

Cook Before Eating / Uncooked / Fresh

It is uncommon to find a ham with one of these labels on it in the grocery store. These labels mean that the ham is raw and needs to be fully cooked (not just heated up) before you can eat it. A ham with a “cook before eating,” “uncooked,” or “fresh” label must be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (62.8 degrees Celsius) before it can be eaten.

When you are cooking any kind of ham (really, and kind of meat), the best way to know when it is fully cooked is to use a meat thermometer. Find out how to use a meat thermometer in a large cut of meat like a ham in this post.

No Added Hormones

Most pork has the label “No added hormones.*” This is usually in pretty big letters somewhere obvious on the packaging. Did you see that little asterisk? If you follow that to the teeny-tiny print somewhere else on the label (you may have to squint to find it), you’ll also see this statement:

There is no pork in the US food system that has been treated with added hormones.

Gluten Free

Meat is always gluten free. Gluten is a protein that is in some grains – wheat, rye, barley, and triticale. (Read more about gluten here.) Some of the glazes used on hams can contain gluten, so if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, you should look for hams with a gluten free label. Otherwise, don’t worry about it.

What Do The Labels on Ham Mean? from My Fearless Kitchen. It can be difficult to choose a ham for your family, especially near the holidays. See what all those labels on ham mean and make the best decision for you.

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More Information About Ham

If you want even more information about ham, read this information from the USDA about Ham & Food Safety.



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