Preparing A Ham: {Timetable & Tips}

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SliceBasic Directions:

  • Place in a shallow roaster, uncovered, in a preheated oven (325°). Do not add water.
  • Meat is done when internal temperature is at 160° (for fresh and cook-before-eating cured hams).
  • If it’s been purchased already cooked, it should be heated to an internal temperature of 140° to 165°.
  • Times are listed below for assorted types.
Preheated 325° Oven
Fresh (Uncooked)
Half Leg (Bone-In) 5 to 8 lbs 35 to 40 mins per lb
Whole Leg (Bone-In) 12 to 16 lbs 22 to 26 mins per lb
Whole Leg (Boneless) 10 to 14 lbs 24 to 28 mins per lb
Smoked (Cook-Before-Eating)
Shoulder Roll (Butt), boneless 2 to 4 lbs 35 to 40 mins per lb
Shank or Butt Portion, bone in 3 to 4 lbs 35 to 40 mins per lb
Arm Picnic Shoulder, boneless 5 to 8 lbs 30 to 35 mins per lb
Half, bone in 5 to 7 lbs 22 to 25 mins per lb
Whole, bone in 10 to 14 lbs 18 to 20 mins per lb
Smoked (Cooked)
Canned, boneless 3 to 10 lbs 15 to 20 mins per lb
Arm Picnic Shoulder, boneless 5 to 8 lbs 25 to 30 mins per lb
Vacuum packed, boneless 6 to 12 lbs 10 to 15 mins per lb
Spiral cut, whole or half 7 to 9 lbs 10 to 18 mins per lb
Half, bone in 5 to 7 lbs 18 to 24 mins per lb
Whole, bone in 10 to 14 lbs 15 to 18 mins per lb
Cover with water and soak in refrigerator for 4 to 12 hours (this will help reduce the salt content). Put in stock pot, cover with water and boil 20 to 25 minutes per pound. Drain, glaze then heat in 400° oven for 15 minutes (to brown).

Baking with glaze will add more flavor and help keep it moist, it’s not necessary to do but it does add a nice touch. Here are two easy recipes, baste during the last 45 minutes in the oven:

  • Basic Brown Sugar Glaze: Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a saucepan then stir in 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, 1 tablespoon dry mustard, 2 tablespoons flour. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add 2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate and 1 tablespoon water. Continue over medium heat until mixture is smooth and thick (stir often). Allow to cool a bit before covering meat.
  • Basic Honey: Mix 1/4 cup brown sugar (firmly packed) with 1/4 cup honey, 3 tablespoons of unsweetened pineapple juice and 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard. Bring to a boil and stir well for 1 minute. Allow to cool before using (glaze during the last 45 minutes).

For best results, try diamond-scoring before it’s cooked, this will help the glaze soak in. Remove from the oven about 10 minutes before basting. Return to oven and baste twice (every 15 minutes).

  • If you find results are usually dry and tough, it’s likely because you’re cooking it too long. Try removing from the oven when the internal temperature is about 5° lower than what you want. Allow it to rest on the counter for about 15 minutes or so before carving, it will continue to cook while it’s resting while allowing the juices to be absorbed.
  • If it’s quite lean, lightly diamond-score on all sides then brush oil all over. This will help keep it moist and prevent drying out.
  • Before placing in the oven, make sure it’s preheated to the required temperature. Also place with the fat side up (so the fat will baste the meat). Following these two steps will give the tastiest results.
  • Measure the internal temperature by sticking a meat thermometer into the thickest part (without resting on the bone or hot fat). If you don’t have a thermometer, one way to tell if it is done is if the bone moves easily as you wiggle it (meat will fall or pull away).
  • If you bake a bone-in ham, save the bone for delicious homemade soups.
  • Leftovers delicious in soups, casseroles, slow-simmering dishes…see these recipes for ideas.
  • Having a dinner party and need to figure out how much to buy per person? Use this as a guide…Boneless: 1/4 – 1/3 lb. per serving. Bone-In: 1/3 – 1/2 lb. per serving.*
  • Did You Know: They may be fresh, cured, or cured-and-smoked. Ham is the cured leg of pork. Fresh ham is an uncured leg of pork.*
  • Did You Know: A whole, uncut country ham can be stored safely at room temperature for up to 1 year. If it’s canned and unopened, it may be stored at room temperature for up to 2 years.*

*Source: Times and internal temperatures were confirmed with the USDA: Food Safety Sheet.

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