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How Do I Choose the Best Canned Ham?

By Cindy Quarters
Updated May 16, 2024
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Canned ham is a pork product that in most cases does not require refrigeration. It is typically not difficult to store, it can be kept a long time, and generally has a full, robust flavor. You will find that there are many different types of canned hams, with varying degrees of quality. There are a number of factors to consider in choosing the best canned ham, including how it is made, the number of additives in the product, and how much filler is used in the canning process.

When choosing a canned ham, one of the most important factors is to determine if the ham is chopped or whole. Chopped ham is cured pork, and it contains a certain amount of actual ham, but it is largely made up of the leftover bits and pieces trimmed from other hams. These pieces are pressed together and held in place with a gelatin-based mixture. This gives them the look and shape of a canned ham, but not necessarily the flavor, and the texture will differ as well. Be sure to check the amount of actual ham is in the product you're planning to purchase.

Another important consideration when selecting the best canned ham can be the amount of additives in the product. Read the label carefully, because it should tell you what percentage of the weight of the canned ham is actually made up of added water and juices. The front of the can will usually state if water has been added, and in some cases will tell you the percentage of the ham’s weight that consists of added water. A small amount is necessary, but beware of hams that contain a large percentage of water, as they do not usually represent the best value.

Since ham is cured with spices, there will always be some listed as ingredients, but check closely to make sure there are not a lot of fillers. It can be hard to tell just by reading the list of ingredients, but a quick check of the nutritional values listed on the label can give you a good indication. Normally, a canned ham will be very low in carbohydrates, usually less than one gram per serving. If too much sugar has been used in the processing, a canned ham may have as many as six or seven carbohydrates in a single serving. This is a good indicator that the ham has too much added sugar.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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