Ham is a delicious and popular meat, but sometimes it can be too salty for our taste buds.
Luckily, there are ways to remove some of that saltiness and make your ham more enjoyable.
One method that has been circulating on the internet is using ginger ale to marinate the ham. But does it really work?
In this article, we will explore the effectiveness of using ginger ale to remove salt from ham and provide you with some tips on how to make your ham less salty.
So, grab a glass of ginger ale and let’s dive in!
Does Ginger Ale Remove Salt From Ham?
The short answer is yes, ginger ale can help remove salt from ham. The carbonation and sweetness of the ginger ale work together to break down the saltiness of the ham, resulting in a more balanced flavor.
Many people have tried this method and have reported success in reducing the saltiness of their ham. Some have even used it on country ham steaks, which are notoriously salty, and have had great results.
To use ginger ale to remove salt from ham, simply pour a liter of ginger ale into a large plastic bag with the ham and let it marinate for at least five hours in the refrigerator. Some people recommend turning the ham over halfway through the marinating process to ensure even distribution.
After marinating, remove the ham from the bag and discard the ginger ale. Pat the ham dry and cook it as you normally would. You should notice a significant reduction in saltiness.
Why Is Ham Sometimes Too Salty?
Ham can sometimes be too salty due to the curing process. Before refrigeration, salt was used as a preservative to prevent bacterial growth. Hams were cured with large amounts of salt to ensure their longevity. Even though refrigeration is now widely available, the process of salt curing hams is still used because it gives them a delicious flavor.
Country hams, in particular, are known for their high salt content. They have a firm texture and taste thanks to a diet of peanuts and long, dry cure. They may also have a covering of mold that is often removed along with the hock by the butcher. The curing and smoking processes that give them their rich taste also make them surprisingly salty.
To remove excess salt from ham, rinsing it under cold running water is the first step. However, this may not be enough to completely remove the saltiness. Soaking the ham in a mixture of water, vinegar, and salt can help to further reduce the salt content. For country hams, soaking for 24 to 30 hours in tepid water is recommended. Changing the water after 12 to 15 hours helps to remove the maximum amount of salt before proceeding.
Cooking the ham can also help to reduce its saltiness. Simmering it in water for approximately 20 to 30 minutes per pound until it is fork-tender can help to remove some of the salty flavor. Skimming off any salty fat that rises to the top during cooking is also recommended.
The Science Behind Using Ginger Ale To Remove Salt From Ham
The science behind using ginger ale to remove salt from ham lies in the chemical reactions that occur between the carbonation and sweetness of the soda and the salt in the ham. Carbonation is created by dissolving carbon dioxide gas into water, creating carbonic acid. This acid can break down some of the salt molecules in the ham, making them less intense.
Additionally, the sweetness of ginger ale can help balance out the saltiness of the ham. Sugar has a natural ability to mask bitterness and enhance other flavors, making it an effective tool in reducing the saltiness of cured meats like ham.
The marinating process also plays a role in reducing saltiness. As the ham sits in the ginger ale, some of the salt molecules will dissolve and be pulled out of the meat by osmosis. This will result in a more evenly distributed flavor throughout the ham.
It’s important to note that while ginger ale can help reduce saltiness, it cannot completely eliminate it. The ham will still have some level of saltiness, which is necessary for its preservation and flavor. However, using ginger ale can help create a more balanced and enjoyable eating experience.
How To Use Ginger Ale To Marinate Ham
Marinating ham with ginger ale is a great way to add flavor and reduce saltiness. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use ginger ale to marinate ham:
1. Score the ham diagonally both ways about 1/8″ in.
2. In a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 1 1/4 cup ginger ale, and mustard.
3. Place the ham in a roasting pan and pour the ginger ale mixture over it. Rub brown sugar over the ham.
4. Attach pineapple slices to the outside of the ham with toothpicks and secure a cherry into the middle of each pineapple slice using toothpicks.
5. Pour reserved pineapple juice into the pan with ginger ale.
6. Tent aluminum foil over the ham and bake it in a preheated oven for 4 hours at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
7. Remove aluminum foil and continue baking another 30 minutes.
If you prefer to use a slow cooker, place vegetables on the bottom of the crockpot, place the ham on top, and then pour ginger ale overall. Cover and cook on low for about 5 to 7 hours, or until vegetables are just tender. In a buttered measuring cup, mix about 2 tablespoons of liquid from the pot with the glaze ingredients and pour over the ham. Continue cooking on low for 1 hour, basting frequently.
For marinating, simply pour a liter of ginger ale into a large plastic bag with the ham and let it marinate for at least five hours in the refrigerator. Turn the ham over halfway through the marinating process to ensure even distribution.
After marinating, remove the ham from the bag and discard the ginger ale. Pat the ham dry and cook it as you normally would. The result is a flavorful and less salty ham that is sure to be a hit at any gathering.
Other Methods For Reducing Saltiness In Ham
While ginger ale is a great option for reducing saltiness in ham, there are other methods you can try as well. One common method is to soak the ham in water before cooking it. This helps to draw out some of the excess salt. Simply place the ham in a large bowl or pot and cover it with water. Let it soak for at least 24 hours, changing the water every few hours. After soaking, pat the ham dry and cook it as desired.
Another method is to poach the ham in water or broth. This involves simmering the ham in liquid for a period of time, which helps to remove some of the salt. To do this, cut the ham into smaller pieces and place them in a pot with enough liquid to cover them. Bring the liquid to a simmer and let the ham cook for about 30 minutes. Remove it from the liquid and pat it dry before cooking.
You can also try serving the ham with neutralizing side dishes or adding ingredients to offset the saltiness. For example, vinegar, lemon, honey, butter, oil, or a creamy sauce can all help to balance out the flavor of the ham.
Lastly, you can try washing the ham under cold running water and then placing it in distilled water for a few hours. Rinse it again and repeat if necessary until you achieve your desired level of saltiness reduction. After rinsing or cooking, pat the meat dry with a clean napkin or paper towel before storing it in the fridge until ready to eat.
Tips For Buying And Preparing Ham To Reduce Saltiness.
If you’re looking to reduce the saltiness of your ham, there are a few things you can do before and during the cooking process. Here are some tips to help you buy and prepare ham to reduce its saltiness:
1. Look for wet-cured ham: Wet-cured ham is cured in a saltwater solution, which means it has less salt than dry-cured ham. If you’re trying to avoid a salty flavor, wet-cured ham is a good option.
2. Soak the ham: Soaking the ham in water can help remove some of the salt. You can soak it for up to 48 hours, changing the water every 4 to 6 hours if necessary. The longer you soak it, the more salt will be eliminated.
3. Use distilled water: If you’re soaking the ham, use distilled water instead of tap water. This will ensure that there are no additional minerals or chemicals in the water that could affect the taste of the ham.
4. Rinse the ham: Before soaking or cooking the ham, rinse it under cold running water to remove any excess salt.
5. Add vinegar: Adding vinegar to the water when soaking the ham can help break down some of the salt and reduce its intensity.
6. Balance with sweetness: If your ham still has a salty flavor after soaking and cooking, try balancing it out with some sweetness. Adding a pinch of sugar or using a sweet glaze can help round out the flavors and make it more palatable.
By following these tips, you can reduce the saltiness of your ham and enjoy a more balanced flavor. Experiment with different methods and find what works best for you and your taste preferences.