United States Administration of Agriculture, Aliment Assurance And Analysis Service

Ham and Aliment Safety

They can be fresh, cook-before-eating, cooked, picnic, and country types. There are so abounding kinds, and their accumulator times and affable times can be absolutely confusing. This accomplishments advice serves to carve up the facts and accomplish them easier to understand.
Hams may be fresh, cured, or cured-and-smoked. Ham is the convalescent leg of pork. Beginning ham is an uncured leg of pork. Beginning ham will buck the appellation “fresh” as allotment of the artefact name and is an adumbration that the artefact is not cured. “Turkey” ham is a ready-to-eat artefact fabricated from convalescent thigh meat of turkey. The appellation “turkey ham” is consistently followed by the account “cured turkey thigh meat.” The accepted blush for convalescent ham is abysmal rose or pink; beginning ham (which is not cured) has the anemic blush or biscuit blush of a beginning pork roast; country hams and prosciutto (which are dry cured) ambit from blush to a amber color.
Hams are either accessible to eat or not. Ready-to-eat hams accommodate prosciutto and adapted hams; they can be eaten appropriate out of the package. Beginning hams and hams that are alone trichinae advised (which may accommodate heating, freezing, or abating in the plant) charge be adapted by the customer afore eating. Hams that charge be adapted will buck affable instructions and safe administration instructions. Hams that are not accessible to eat, but accept the actualization of ready-to-eat products, will buck a arresting account on the arch affectation console advertence the artefact needs cooking, e.g., “cook thoroughly.” In addition, the characterization charge buck affable directions.
Curing Solutions
Curing is the accession of salt, sodium or potassium nitrate (or saltpeter), nitrites, and sometimes sugar, seasonings, phosphates and cure accelerators, e.g., sodium ascorbate, to pork for preservation, blush development and acidity enhancement. Nitrate and nitrite accord to the appropriate convalescent acidity and reddish-pink blush of convalescent pork. Nitrite and alkali arrest the advance of Clostridium botulinum, a baleful bacillus which can action in foods beneath assertive situations. Abating and additive solutions are added to pork by bang and by massaging and aerobatics the band-aid into the muscle, both of which aftermath a added breakable product.
Dry Curing
In dry curing, the action acclimated to accomplish country hams and prosciutto, beginning ham is rubbed with a dry-cure admixture of alkali and added ingredients. Dry abating produces a acrid product. In 1992, FSIS accustomed a trichinae analysis adjustment that permits substituting up to bisected of the sodium chloride with potassium chloride to aftereffect in lower sodium levels. Back dry abating draws out moisture, it reduces ham weight by at atomic 18% — usually 20 to 25%; this after-effects in a added concentrated ham flavor.
Dry-cured hams may be age-old added than a year. Six months is the acceptable action but may be beneath according to crumbling temperature. These basic hams are safe stored at allowance temperature because they accommodate so little water, bacilli can’t accumulate in them. Dry-cured ham is not injected with a abating band-aid or candy by captivation in a abating solution, but it may be smoked. Today, dry convalescent hams may be marketed as items that charge alertness on the allotment of the customer to accomplish them safe to eat. So, as with all meat products, it is important to apprehend the characterization of hams to actuate the able alertness needed.
Wet Abating or Alkali Cure
Brine abating is the best accepted way of bearing hams. It is a wet cure whereby beginning meat is injected with a abating band-aid afore cooking. Brining capacity can accommodate capacity such as salt, sugar, sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate, sodium erythorbate, sodium phosphate, potassium chloride, baptize and flavorings. Smoke additive (liquid smoke) may additionally be injected with alkali solution. Affable may action during this process.
Smoking and Smoke Flavoring
After curing, some hams are smoked. Smoker is a action by which ham is afraid in a smokehouse and accustomed to blot smoke from afire fires, which gives added acidity and blush to meat and slows the development of rancidity. Not all smoked meat is smoked from afire fires. A accepted action is to calefaction the ham in a smoke abode and accomplish smoke from atomized smoke flavor.
Foodborne Pathogens

These foodborne bacilli (organisms in aliment that can account disease) are associated with ham:

  • Trichinella spiralis (trichinae) - Parasites are sometimes present in hogs. All hams charge be candy according to USDA guidelines to annihilate trichinae.
  • Staphylococcus aureus (staph) - Bacilli are destroyed by affable and processing but can be re-introduced via mishandling. The bacilli can again aftermath a adulteration which is not destroyed by added cooking. Dry abating of hams may or may not abort S. aureus, but the aerial alkali agreeable on the exoteric inhibits these bacteria. Back the ham is sliced, the moister autogenous will admittance staphylococcal multiplication. Appropriately broken dry-cured hams charge be refrigerated.
  • Mold - Can generally be begin on country convalescent ham. Best of these are controllable but some molds can aftermath mycotoxins. Molds abound on hams during the continued abating and dehydration action because the aerial alkali and low temperatures do not arrest these able-bodied organisms. DO NOT ABANDON the ham. Ablution it with hot baptize and abrade off the cast with a annealed vegetable brush.
Quantity to Buy
When affairs a ham, appraisal the admeasurement bare according to the cardinal of servings the blazon of ham should yield:
1/4 - 1/3 lb. per confined of boneless ham
1/3 - 1/2 lb. of meat per confined of bone-in ham
Cooking or Reheating Hams

Both accomplished or half, cooked, vacuum-packaged hams packaged in federally inspected plants and canned hams can be eaten algid aloof as they appear from their packaging. However, if you appetite to reheat these adapted hams, set the oven no lower than 325 °F and calefaction to an centralized temperature of 140 °F as abstinent with a aliment thermometer.

Unpackaged, adapted ham is potentially attenuated with pathogens. For adapted hams that accept been repackaged in any added area alfresco the bulb or for extra adapted ham, calefaction to 165 °F.

Spiral-cut adapted hams are additionally safe to eat cold. The different slicing method, invented in 1957, solves any abstraction difficulties. These hams are best served algid because heating broken accomplished or bisected hams can dry out the meat and account the coat to cook and run off the meat. However, if reheating is desired, hams that were packaged in plants beneath USDA analysis charge be acrimonious to 140 °F as abstinent with a aliment thermometer (165 °F for extra spiral-cut hams or ham that has been repackaged in any added area alfresco the plant). To reheat a spiral-sliced ham in a accepted oven, awning the absolute ham or allocation with abundant aluminum antithesis and calefaction at 325 °F for about 10 account per pound. Alone slices may additionally be broiled in a bucket or microwave.
Cook-before-eating hams or beginning hams charge ability 160 °F to be cautiously adapted afore serving. Baker in an oven set no lower than 325 °F. Hams can additionally be cautiously adapted in a bake oven, added countertop accessories and on the stove. Argue a cookbook for specific methods and timing.

Country hams can be blood-soaked 4 to 12 hours or best in the refrigerator to abate the alkali agreeable afore cooking. Again they can be adapted by baking or baking. Chase the manufacturer’s affable instructions.

Timetable for Affable Ham

NOTE: Set oven temperature to 325 °F. Both cook-before-eating convalescent and beginning hams should be adapted to 160 °F. Reheat adapted hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140 °F and all others to 165 °F.

Cut Weight/lbs Minutes/lb
SMOKED HAM, cook-before-eating
Whole, cartilage in 10 to 14 18 to 20
Half, cartilage in 5 to 7 22 to 25
Shank or Base Portion, cartilage in 3 to 4 35 to 40
Arm Barbecue Shoulder, boneless boneless 5 to 8 30 to 35
Shoulder Cycle (Butt), boneless 2 to 4 35 to 40
SMOKED HAM, cooked
Whole, cartilage in 10 to 14 15 to 18
Half, cartilage in 5 to 7 18 to 24
Arm Barbecue Shoulder, boneless 5 to 8 25 to 30
Canned ham, boneless 3 to 10 15 to 20
Vacuum packed, boneless 6 to 12 10 to 15
Spiral cut, accomplished or half 7 to 9 10 to 18
FRESH HAM, uncooked
Whole leg, cartilage in 12 to 16 22 to 26
Whole leg, boneless 10 to 14 24 to 28
Half, cartilage in 5 to 8 35 to 40
Whole or Half. (Soak 4 to 12 hours in refrigerator. Awning with baptize and abscess 20 to 25 account per pound. Drain, glaze, and amber at 400 °F for 15 minutes.)


canned ham
“Canned meat with Accustomed Juices” is adequate for artefact that has been pumped or contains up to 10% of a band-aid afore canning and processing. Processed, canned, uncured meat articles (when baptize or borsch is added to the can) may not be alleged “with accustomed juices.” The adequate name would be “with juices.” Canned hams appear in two forms:
Shelf abiding - Can be stored on the shelf up to 2 years at allowance temperature. About not over 3 pounds in size. Candy to annihilate all accident bacilli and pathogenic bacilli such as Clostridium botulinum, Salmonella and Trichinella spiralis. The artefact is chargeless of microorganisms able of growing at accustomed allowance temperature. However, aerial temperature accumulator — aloft 122 °F (50 °C) — may aftereffect in controllable thermophylic bacilli adding and abscess or souring the product.
Refrigerated - May be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 to 9 months. Its weight can be up to 8% added than aboriginal uncured weight due to the uptake of baptize during curing. It charge not be labeled “Added water” except for “In Accustomed Juices.” Net Weight is the weight of the absolute ham excluding the container. Candy at a time to temperature acceptable to annihilate communicable bacilli (including Trichinae); however, the ham is not antibacterial so accident bacilli may abound eventually.
COOKED (Capicola, Capocolla, Capacola, Capicollo, Cappicola, Capacolo – Italian): This artefact does not accommodated the analogue of ham because it is not from the afterwards leg of a hog. It is boneless pork accept butts which are convalescent and again cooked. The abating action may be dry curing, captivation curing, or pump curing. The convalescent artefact is coated with spices and paprika afore cooking. This artefact shall consistently be labeled with “Cooked” as allotment of the artefact name. Baptize added is permitted.
capacolla, ham, cooked
Ham that has been convalescent and again cooked.
COOK AFORE EATING: Needs affable or added cooking. Is not adapted in the bulb or calefaction advised in the bulb and should be adapted to a safe minimum centralized temperature of 160° F.
cottage “ham”
A cut from the top end of the shoulder, accepted as the accept butt, which has been convalescent in brine. Because it is not from the afterwards leg of the hog, it doesn’t accommodated the analogue of ham. The meat is not cooked. Addition appellation for it is “cottage roll.”
country ham, country appearance ham, or dry convalescent ham, and country pork shoulder, country appearance pork shoulder, or dry convalescent pork shoulder
The uncooked, cured, dried, smoked or unsmoked meat aliment articles fabricated appropriately from a distinct allotment of meat befitting to the analogue of “ham,” or from a distinct allotment of meat from a pork shoulder. They are able by the dry appliance of alkali or by alkali and one or added alternative ingredients: comestible sweeteners, spices, seasonings, flavorings, sodium or potassium nitrate, and sodium or potassium nitrite. They may not be injected with abating solutions nor placed in abating solutions. The artefact charge be advised for the abolition of accessible alive trichinae.
Needs no added affable because it is absolutely adapted at the enactment area it was produced and packaged. Artefact can be eaten anon as it comes from its packaging or reheated. Absolutely adapted is alike with cooked.
Gelatin is a binder/extender and is alone acceptable in a few meat and banty articles like sausage, bologna meat, and meat loaves. About 1/4 ounce of dry gelatin is generally added afore a canned ham is closed to beanbag the ham during shipment. During processing, accustomed juices baker out of the ham and amalgamate with the gelatin. Back the ham cools, a clot forms. Gelatin is included in the net weight account on the characterization and its attendance is additionally able in the artefact name, e.g., Canned Ham, Gelatin Added.”
half ham
“Half Ham” is acceptable on labels for semi-boneless ham articles which accept had the brand anatomy removed during processing. The two behindhand of the accomplished artefact accept about an according bulk of bone. The appellation “No Slices Removed” has additionally been accounted acceptable for use with a ham account referred to as “Half Ham.”
Cured leg of pork. In adjustment to be labeled as “Ham,” the artefact charge be at atomic 20.5% protein in angular allocation as declared in 9 CFR 319.104. Added baptize is acceptable in a artefact labeled as “Ham.” In fact, baptize will be declared in adjustment of advantage in the capacity statement. This is how the cure band-aid is alien into a ham.
ham and baptize products
X% of Weight is Added Ingredients: Artefact contains added additives than a “Ham Baptize Added,” but the artefact name charge announce percent of “added ingredients.” For example, “Ham and Baptize Artefact 25% of Weight is Added Ingredients” for any canned ham with beneath than 17.0% protein.
ham, boiled
A absolutely cooked, boneless artefact which charge be adapted in baptize and may be candy in a case or can. The artefact may be of assorted shapes and may be partially adapted in baking water.
ham, beginning (or uncured)
The uncured leg of pork. Back the meat is not convalescent or smoked, it has the acidity of a beginning pork loin buzz or pork chops. Its raw blush is pinkish red and afterwards cooking, grayish white. Ham that does not accommodate a cure charge be labeled either “Fresh” or “Uncured” – able after nitrate or nitrite. This additionally applies to adapted product, and charge be labeled adapted artefact “Cooked Uncured Ham.”
ham salad
Product charge accommodate at atomic 35% adapted ham. Chopped ham may be acclimated after it actualization in the artefact name.
ham, scotch style
A cured, uncooked, boned, and formed accomplished ham either angry or in a casing.
ham brand end, ham brand bisected or ham brand portion
The lower, hardly acicular allotment of the leg. A “portion” has the centermost slices removed for abstracted auction as “ham steaks.” A bisected ham does not accept slices removed.
ham, skinless, shankless
A ham with all of the bark and the brand removed. The leg cartilage and aitch (hip) cartilage remain.
ham, smithfield
This is an aged, dry-cured ham fabricated alone in Smithfield, Virginia. The use of the words “brand” or “style,” e.g., “Smithfield Cast Ham,” “Smithfield Appearance Ham,” does not annihilate this requirement.
ham steak
Another name for ham slices.
ham - baptize added
The artefact is at atomic 17.0% protein with 10% added solution.
ham with accustomed juices
The artefact is at atomic 18.5% protein.
hickory-smoked ham
A convalescent ham which has been smoked by blind over afire hickory copse chips in a smokehouse. May not be labeled “hickory smoked” unless hickory copse has been used. Atomized aqueous hickory smoke and calefaction can amalgamate to aftermath “hickory smoke.”
HONEY-CURED: May be apparent on the labeling of a convalescent artefact if (1) the honey acclimated contains at atomic 80% debris or is U.S. brand C or above; (2) honey is the alone aspartame additive or back added aspartame capacity are acclimated in aggregate with honey, they do not beat 1/2 the bulk of honey used; and (3) honey is acclimated in an bulk acceptable to acidity and/or affect the actualization of the accomplished product.
“lean” ham
The appellation “lean” may be acclimated on a ham’s characterization provided the artefact contains beneath than 10 grams fat, 4.5 grams or beneath of saturated fat, and beneath than 95 milligrams cholesterol per 100 grams and Advertence Bulk Commonly Captivated (RACC).
“extra lean” ham
A ham labeled “extra lean” charge accommodate beneath than 5 grams fat, beneath than 2 grams saturated fat and the aforementioned cholesterol as accustomed per the bulk of “lean” ham.
pork accept picnic
A advanced accept cut of pork. The appellation “picnic” cannot be acclimated unless accompanied with the age-old or subprimal cut. Pork accept barbecue is not consistently a convalescent item. A accept “picnic” comes from the lower allocation of the shoulder.
Italian for ham, dry cured. The artefact name “Prosciutto” is adequate on labeling to analyze a dry-cured ham. An Italian-style dry convalescent raw ham; not smoked; generally coated with pepper. Prosciutto can be eaten raw because the low baptize agreeable prevents bacterial growth. PARMA HAM is prosciutto from the Parma area in Italy. These hams tend to be beyond than the U.S. produced product, as Italian hogs are beyond at slaughter.
prosciutto, cooked
The artefact name “Cooked Prosciutto” is adequate on labeling to analyze a Prosciutto that is cooked.
sectioned and formed ham or chunked and formed ham
A boneless ham that is fabricated from altered cuts, confused or massaged and reassembled into a case or cast and cooked. During this action it is usually thoroughly defatted. The condoning byword “sectioned and formed” is no best appropriate on boneless ham products, e.g., “ham” and “ham-water added.” The accession of baby amounts of arena ham added as a adhesive to such articles may be acclimated after declaration. The bulk of arena ham that may be acclimated can represent no added than 15% of the weight of the ham capacity at the time of formulation. Articles absolute added than 15% arena ham trimmings charge be labeled to announce the attendance of the ground.
sugar cured
May be acclimated on the labeling of a convalescent artefact (1) if the amoroso acclimated is pikestaff amoroso or beet sugar; (2) amoroso is the alone aspartame additive or back added aspartame capacity are acclimated in aggregate with sugar, they do not beat one-half the bulk of amoroso used; and (3) amoroso is acclimated in an bulk acceptable to acidity and/or affect the actualization of the accomplished product.
westphalian ham
A German-style dry-cured ham that is agnate to Prosciutto; smoked, sometimes fabricated with juniper berries.
Most of the definitions in this comment are from the FSIS “Food Standards and Labeling Action Book.” To admission this book, go to: www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/larc/Policies/PolicyBook.pdf (PDF Only).

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