If you’ve ever bought a ham from the grocery store, you may have noticed that it often comes wrapped in a netting. But what do you do with that netting?
Do you leave it on while cooking, or remove it beforehand? It’s a common question that many home cooks have, and the answer isn’t always clear.
In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why netting is used on ham, and whether or not you should remove it before cooking. So if you’re ready to learn more about this hammy topic, let’s dive in!
Do You Remove Netting From Ham Before Cooking?
The short answer is: it depends.
If your ham comes in a plastic net bag, you should definitely remove it before cooking. This type of netting is purely for packaging purposes and is not meant to be cooked with the ham.
However, if your ham comes wrapped in a cotton string netting, the decision to remove it or not is up to you. The netting is there to help the ham retain its shape during the cooking process, especially if it’s boneless.
If you plan on carving the ham in front of guests and want it to look as presentable as possible, it’s best to leave the netting on while cooking. This will help the ham keep its shape and make it easier to slice.
On the other hand, if you’re making a pot roast or pulled pork and don’t care about presentation, you can remove the netting before cooking. The meat will still cook just fine without it.
Why Is Netting Used On Ham?
The cotton string netting that is sometimes found on ham serves a specific purpose. It helps the ham keep its shape during the cooking process, especially if it’s boneless. Without the netting, the ham may fall apart or lose its shape, making it harder to carve and present.
The netting is made of a food-safe cotton string that is tightly wrapped around the ham. As the ham cooks, the string tightens, helping to hold everything together. Once the ham is cooked, the netting can be easily removed, leaving behind a perfectly shaped and delicious ham.
While some people choose to remove the netting before cooking, it’s important to note that doing so may result in a less uniform shape and more difficulty when carving. Ultimately, the decision to remove the netting or not comes down to personal preference and the desired presentation of the finished product.
Is The Netting Edible?
The cotton string netting used for ham is technically edible, but it’s not recommended to consume it. The netting is made from a cotton blend and is not harmful if ingested in small amounts. However, it can be tough and unpleasant to chew, so it’s best to remove it before serving the ham. Additionally, the netting can trap seasoning or marinade, which can make it taste unappetizing if consumed. So, while the netting won’t harm you if you accidentally eat a small piece, it’s best to avoid eating it altogether.
How To Remove Netting From Ham
If you do decide to remove the netting from your ham before cooking, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the process goes smoothly.
First, make sure the ham is fully thawed if it was frozen. Trying to remove the netting from a partially frozen ham can be difficult and may damage the meat.
Next, use a pair of kitchen scissors or a sharp knife to cut the netting away from the ham. Start at one end and work your way down, being careful not to cut into the meat itself.
If the netting is particularly tight or difficult to remove, you can try loosening it by soaking the ham in cold water for 30 minutes before attempting to remove it.
Once the netting is removed, you can season and prepare your ham as desired. If you’re worried about losing flavor or seasoning during the cooking process, consider using non-stick cooking spray on the ham before cooking to help prevent sticking.
Remember, while removing the netting may make carving and serving easier, it’s not necessary for successful cooking. If you’re unsure about whether or not to remove the netting from your ham, consult with your butcher or a trusted recipe source for guidance.
Pros And Cons Of Cooking Ham With Netting On
There are both advantages and disadvantages to cooking ham with the netting on.
One of the main benefits is that the netting helps the ham retain its shape during the cooking process. This is especially important if you’re cooking a boneless ham, as it can easily fall apart without the support of the netting. Additionally, leaving the netting on can make it easier to carve and serve the ham, as it will hold its shape better.
However, there are also some potential downsides to cooking ham with netting on. If the netting is made of synthetic materials, it may not be safe for cooking at high temperatures. Additionally, if you leave the netting on while cooking, it can make it more difficult for the heat to penetrate the meat evenly, resulting in unevenly cooked ham.
Ultimately, whether or not you choose to leave the netting on while cooking your ham will depend on your personal preferences and the specific circumstances of your recipe. If presentation is important to you and you’re using a boneless ham, leaving the netting on may be a good choice. However, if you’re concerned about safety or want to ensure even cooking, removing the netting before cooking may be a better option.
Tips For Cooking Ham With Or Without Netting
If you’ve decided to cook your ham with the netting on, there are a few tips to keep in mind. First, make sure to score the fat in a diamond pattern before cooking. This will help the glaze adhere to the ham and create a more flavorful end result.
When it comes to removing the netting after cooking, it’s best to loosen the strings as soon as you unwrap the ham. This will prevent the strings from becoming too embedded in the meat during cooking.
To avoid peeling away the seasoned crust when removing the netting, coat the ham and netting with nonstick cooking spray before seasoning and baking. This will help prevent the seasonings from sticking to the bag during cooking.
If you’re worried about the netting affecting the flavor of your ham, you can remove it before cooking. However, make sure to tie bands of string around the meat about an inch apart to help it retain its shape during cooking.