Ham is a delicious and versatile meat that can be enjoyed in many different ways. However, sometimes ham can be too salty, making it difficult to fully enjoy its flavor.
Luckily, there are several methods you can use to make ham less salty, whether you prefer a simple soak or a more elaborate cooking process.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the best ways to reduce the saltiness of your ham and make it even more delicious.
So grab your apron and let’s get started!
How To Make Ham Less Salty?
Method 1: Soaking in Water
One of the easiest ways to reduce the saltiness of ham is to soak it in water. This method is simple and effective, and can be done overnight or for up to 48 hours for maximum results.
To soak your ham, simply place it in a large container and cover it with water. Let it soak for the desired amount of time, then discard the water and pat the ham dry. This will remove a significant amount of salt from the meat, making it less salty and more enjoyable.
Method 2: Poaching in Water
Another effective method for reducing the saltiness of ham is to poach it in water. This method is a bit more involved than soaking, but can yield delicious results.
To poach your ham, cut it into two pieces to create more surface area for the water to leach out the salt. Then, place the ham in a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the ham from the pot and rinse it in cold water. Pat it dry to remove any excess moisture, then refrigerate until ready to use.
Method 3: Brining
Brining is another effective method for reducing the saltiness of ham. To brine your ham, you’ll need about one cup of salt for every pound of meat.
Dissolve the salt in warm water, then place your ham in a large container and cover it with the brine solution. Let it soak for at least 24 hours, then remove the ham from the brine and rinse it in cold water. Pat it dry and refrigerate until ready to use.
Method 4: Cooking with Milk and Brown Sugar
If you prefer a more elaborate cooking process, you can try cooking your ham with milk and brown sugar. This method will not only reduce the saltiness of your ham, but also add delicious flavor.
To cook your ham with milk and brown sugar, trim any visible fat from the surface of the meat and place it cut side down in a roasting pan. Pour enough milk over the ham so that it ends up about 1/4 inch deep in the bottom of the pan.
Use your hands to pack the ham in a generous coating of brown sugar, then cover with a layer of crushed pineapple. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and place the ham (still covered in foil) into the oven. Roast for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and baste with any juices that have accumulated in the bottom of the pan. Continue roasting for another 30 minutes or until heated through.
Why Is Ham Sometimes Too Salty?
Ham is often too salty because it is cured with large amounts of salt. In the past, salt was necessary to prevent bacterial growth and spoilage before refrigeration was available. However, even though refrigeration is now widely used, the process of salt curing hams still remains popular because it enhances the flavor of the meat. Country hams, in particular, are known for their firm texture and rich taste due to their diet of peanuts and long, dry cure. These hams are often covered in mold, which is removed along with the hock by the butcher. The curing and smoking processes used on country hams also contribute to their high salt content. Removing the excess salt from ham is necessary to avoid an overwhelming salty flavor in the final dish.
Soaking Method: How To Soak Ham To Reduce Saltiness
The soaking method is one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce the saltiness of ham. To soak your ham, you’ll need a large container and enough water to fully submerge the meat.
Start by placing your ham in the container and covering it with cold water. Allow it to soak for at least four hours, or overnight for best results. The longer you soak the ham, the more salt will be removed.
After soaking, discard the water and rinse the ham under cold running water. Pat it dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. This will help to remove any remaining salt on the surface of the meat.
If you find that your ham is still too salty after soaking, you can repeat the process until you achieve your desired level of saltiness. Soaking is a simple and effective way to reduce the saltiness of ham, and can be done with minimal effort.
Boiling Method: How To Boil Ham To Reduce Saltiness
If soaking or poaching your ham doesn’t remove enough saltiness, you can also try boiling it. Boiling is a simple and effective method that can help leach out any remaining salt from the meat.
To boil your ham, start by cutting it into large chunks to increase the surface area for the water to leach out the salt. Then, place the ham in a pot of boiling water and let it cook for about ten minutes. Taste the ham after ten minutes and see if it is still too salty. If it is, continue boiling for another one or two minutes, but be careful not to overcook the ham as this can result in tough and unappetizing meat.
It’s important to note that boiling or cooking ham meat won’t completely remove all of the salt from it. However, it can reduce the salt content of the meat by removing up to 10% of the sodium. To further reduce the saltiness of your ham, you can also try adding liquid to the boiling water. For example, you can replace some of the water with orange juice or ginger ale to break down the salt and add flavor to the meat.
Baking Method: How To Bake Ham To Reduce Saltiness
Baking your ham is another great option for reducing its saltiness. Follow these steps to bake your ham and make it less salty:
1. Soak the Ham: Before baking, soak the ham in water overnight to remove excess salt. Place the ham in a large bowl or pot and pour cold water over it until it is covered. Let it soak in the fridge overnight to give time for the salt to soak out into the water.
2. Drain the Ham Drippings: After soaking, remove the ham from the water and pat it dry with a paper towel before heating it in the oven. Drain the ham drippings while it heats.
3. Prepare Your Ham: Prepare your ham with your choice of glaze or seasonings and place it in the oven to cook.
4. Pour Off Pan Drippings: After 20 minutes of baking, remove the ham from the oven and carefully pour off the pan drippings, which will be very salty.
5. Add More Glaze or Seasonings: To retain moisture, add more glaze or seasonings and place the ham back in the oven. For a larger sized ham, wait an additional five to ten minutes before pouring off the pan drippings.
6. Serve with Neutralizing Sides: Serve the ham with neutralizing side dishes like potatoes, rice, and pasta to offset its saltiness.
7. Slice Thinly: To reduce the intensity of the ham’s saltiness, cut it into very thin slices before serving it. Thick slices of ham can overpower a meal with their salt-heavy taste. Use a sharp kitchen knife to cut the ham as evenly as possible.
By following these steps, you can bake your ham to reduce its saltiness and enjoy a delicious meal without overpowering saltiness.
Other Ways To Reduce Saltiness In Ham: Using Vinegar Or Sugar
In addition to the methods mentioned above, there are other ways to reduce the saltiness of ham that involve using vinegar or sugar.
Method 1: Using Vinegar
Vinegar is an acidic ingredient that can help cut the saltiness of ham. To use vinegar, simply add a small amount (such as a teaspoon) to your recipe. You can also try soaking your ham in a mixture of water and vinegar for a few hours before cooking.
Another option is to use white distilled vinegar. If you mistakenly added too much salt to your recipe, add a small amount of white distilled vinegar. You can also try adding a teaspoon of vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar to cut the salt. If you are cooking a very salty ham, try adding vinegar to it to eliminate some of the salty taste.
Method 2: Using Sugar
Sugar can also help balance out the saltiness of ham. To use sugar, try adding a small amount (such as a teaspoon) to your recipe. You can also try soaking your ham in a mixture of water and sugar for a few hours before cooking.
Another option is to cook your ham with brown sugar and milk. This method not only reduces the saltiness of your ham but also adds delicious flavor. To cook your ham with milk and brown sugar, refer to Method 4 mentioned above.
Remember to use moderation when adding vinegar or sugar to your recipe. Too much acid or sugar can overpower the flavors and ruin the dish. Start with small amounts and adjust as needed until you achieve the desired taste.
Tips For Preventing Ham From Being Too Salty In The First Place
While there are several effective methods for reducing the saltiness of ham, it’s also important to take steps to prevent it from being too salty in the first place. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Choose a low-sodium ham: When shopping for ham, look for options that are labeled “low-sodium” or “reduced sodium.” These hams have less salt added during the curing process, which means they’ll be less salty overall.
2. Soak the ham before cooking: Even if you’re using a low-sodium ham, it can still benefit from a quick soak in water before cooking. This will help remove any excess salt and ensure that the ham is perfectly seasoned.
3. Use a glaze or seasoning with less salt: When preparing your ham, opt for glazes or seasonings that are lower in salt. You can also experiment with using herbs and spices to add flavor without adding too much salt.
4. Serve with neutralizing sides: As mentioned earlier, serving your ham with neutralizing side dishes can help balance out the overall flavor of the meal. Consider serving potatoes, rice, or pasta alongside your ham to offset any saltiness.
By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your ham is perfectly seasoned and not overly salty.