I never did like the idea of ham in a can. The last thing I wanted to add to my pantry was more processed food. I tend to take my food fresh; but herein lay the problem that sparked a change in me. It was the hassle that came with preparing a meal from fresh ingredients that made me turn to canned ham.
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I could vividly remember that I was craving ham sandwich. As we all know, a craving is your body telling you what it needs. Try as I might, though, I could not rustle up the right stuff — until I saw it. It was a bit of a last resort, but I decided to extract from the cupboard a canned ham.
I didn’t feel very proud of myself, but my stomach didn’t care. This needed to happen, and to my surprise, I kind of liked it. So changed was my opinion that I tend to grab a can or two once every few months for that easy, salty fix.
Over the years, I have tried many canned ham products, and I can say for sure that not all of them are terrible. Here are the best brands of canned ham and three amazing ways to use them.
Canned ham – facts that matter
There are two kinds of canned ham. There’s the one that is usually stored in the shelf (shelf-stable), and the other one, stored in the refrigerator.
The shelf stored canned ham lasts about two years, provided it is kept at room temperature. The meat is sterilized in the can during processing. You can find this ham in two basic sizes: there’s the family-size pack known as the “pear-shaped can” (pear-shaped in the sense that it has a flat bottom with a rounded top), and then there’s the slightly larger one called the “Pullman can”.
Hams stored in the refrigerator last about six to nine months. They are not sterilized like the shelf-stable ham but are instead pasteurized.
Canned ham is usually boneless. It can come in the form of a whole piece or from multiple pieces of meat molded together to form one big piece. Large canned ham usually tends to hold one bigger piece of meat.
During the packaging process, the manufacturer adds dry gelatin into the can before placing the ham into it and sealing it. They then seal the tin and cook it in steam. In the cooking process of the ham, juices from it mix thoroughly with the gelatin. This mixture forms a rather salty and cloudy jelly as the tin cools. The can also contracts during heating, which creates a vacuum, meaning there’s no oxygen to spoil the meat.
The jelly creates cushion for the ham during handling.
The net weight of a canned ham usually includes the jelly and excludes the tin. About 60% of tins come with a small key for opening. Be mindful of the sharp edges to prevent injury. Gelatin comes gushing out when it is opened, so it’s a good idea to keep the tin on a plate when opening it. After that, it suffices to drain the gelatin and scrape or rinse it from the meat.
Once the ham is removed from the tin, it is best served at room temperature or heated. Caution: don’t heat the ham in an unopened tin; it may result in an explosion.
Best canned ham – 4 good brands you can buy
You have arrived: read on to find out the canned ham brands you shouldn’t think twice about.