Is Canned Ham The Same As Spam? The Ultimate Guide

Canned ham and Spam are two popular canned meat products that have been around for decades.

While they may seem similar at first glance, there are some key differences between the two.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what canned ham and Spam are made of, how they compare nutritionally, and whether or not they can be used interchangeably in recipes.

So, if you’ve ever wondered if canned ham is the same as Spam, keep reading to find out!

Is Canned Ham The Same As Spam?

Canned ham and Spam are often compared to each other due to their similar appearance and packaging. However, they are not the same thing.

Canned ham is made from ham that has been compressed into a solid piece, while Spam is made from ground pork and ham. Additionally, canned ham may contain added water, while Spam contains modified potato starch and sugar.

The processing of these meats also differs. Canned ham is typically cooked and then canned, while Spam is cooked in the can during the canning process.

What Is Canned Ham?

Canned ham is a type of pork that has been cured, pressed into a can, and steam cooked. The result is a very stable, albeit somewhat bland, food product that is a cheap source of protein. Unlike conventional ham, the canned variety will keep in less than ideal conditions, and it is often mixed with other ingredients to ensure that they do not go to waste. These ingredients are also cheaper than ham, which is in high demand since it is flavorful, rich, and highly versatile.

To make canned ham, the ingredients are de-boned and mixed with desired spices before being pressed into the can and steam cooked. Often, gelatin is added to help retain the juices and flavor of the meat. There are two different types of canned ham available on the market: shelf-stable canned ham and refrigerated canned ham.

Shelf-stable canned ham is designed to keep for up to two years in optimal conditions, and sometimes even longer. Ideally, it should be stored in a cool dry place at room temperature until it is eaten. However, it has been known to withstand temperature extremes such as very humid tropical weather, which is why SPAM® became such a popular product during the Second World War when other sources of protein were sometimes difficult to find.

Refrigerated canned ham, on the other hand, is meant to be kept under refrigeration until it is used. Typically, this type is less shelf-stable with a shelf life of six to nine months. Once removed from the can, excess ham should be refrigerated in a fresh container to avoid the possibility of contamination.

Canned ham can be eaten straight out of the can or heated before consumption. It can be used in various recipes such as deep-fried canned ham or canned ham tossed with a stir fry. However, since it typically contains pork, it is not a kosher or halal food. In regions with large Jewish or Muslim populations, canned poultry or beef may be found instead to fill the niche that this product would normally occupy.

What Is Spam?

Spam is a canned meat product that was first introduced in 1937 by the Geo. A. Hormel Company. The name “Spam” is actually an abbreviation for “spiced ham”. It is made from ground pork and ham, along with other ingredients such as modified potato starch and sugar.

Unlike traditional ham, Spam is made from less desirable cuts of pork that would not typically be sold to consumers. The meat is ground up and mixed with other ingredients before being canned and cooked. Gelatin is often added to help retain the juices and flavor of the meat.

Spam is a shelf-stable product that can be stored for up to two years in optimal conditions. It is often used as a cheap source of protein, especially in regions where other sources of protein may be difficult to find. Spam gained popularity during World War II when it was used as a source of protein for soldiers.

While Spam may not be as nutritious as traditional ham, it is still a relatively cheap and convenient source of protein. However, it should be consumed in moderation due to its high fat and calorie content.

What Are The Ingredients In Canned Ham Vs. Spam?

The ingredients in canned ham and Spam also differ. According to the Spam website, the product is made from a blend of pork and ham, salt, water, modified potato starch, and sugar, with sodium nitrite added as a preservative. On the other hand, Hormel’s canned ham is made solely from ham with added water.

It’s worth noting that Health Canada has a limit on the amount of ground ham trimmings that can be added to formed ham (15% of total weight). Any more than that, and the packaging is required to contain a label that says “a proportion of ground ham added.” This is important to consider because a contaminated piece of meat could potentially make its way into many formed meats in a processing facility.

In terms of nutritional value, Spam contains more calories and fat than canned ham. A 56g can of Spam contains 180 calories and 16g of fat, while 64g of smoked black forest ham contains 60 calories and 1g of fat. However, the price difference between the two meats may be negligible depending on where you purchase them.

Nutritional Comparison: Canned Ham Vs. Spam

When it comes to nutritional value, both canned ham and Spam are high in calories, potassium, protein, and saturated fat. However, there are some differences between the two.

Ham contains more thiamin and pantothenic acid, which are important for energy metabolism and healthy skin, respectively. On the other hand, Spam contains more folate, which is important for cell growth and development. Spam is also an excellent source of Vitamin C.

In terms of macronutrients, a 56g can of Spam contains 180 calories, 16g fat, and 7g protein. In comparison, 64g of smoked black forest ham contains 60 calories, 1g fat, and 13g protein. While Spam contains more calories and fat than ham, the difference is not as significant as one might expect.

It’s important to note that both canned ham and Spam should be consumed in moderation due to their high sodium content. Additionally, Spam has approximately sixteen times as much fat as another common brand, making it less healthy than some other types of deli meat.

Can You Use Canned Ham And Spam Interchangeably In Recipes?

While canned ham and Spam have some similarities, they cannot be used interchangeably in recipes. Spam has a distinct flavor and texture that is different from canned ham. Spam is also a processed meat product that contains various additives, while canned ham is a more straightforward product made from ham and other ingredients.

That being said, there are some recipes where Spam can be used as a substitute for canned ham, and vice versa. For example, finely chopped Spam can be used in place of deli ham in an omelet. However, it’s important to note that the flavor and texture of the dish will be different when using these products interchangeably.

Ultimately, the decision to use canned ham or Spam in a recipe will depend on personal preference and the specific recipe being used. It’s always a good idea to experiment with different ingredients to find what works best for your taste buds.

Conclusion: Canned Ham Vs. Spam

In terms of nutritional value, canned ham appears to be the healthier option. It has fewer calories, less fat, and more protein than Spam. However, the difference in nutritional value is not significant enough to make canned ham a clear winner over Spam.

Price-wise, Spam is much more affordable than canned ham. This makes it a popular choice for those looking for an economical protein source. Additionally, Spam has a longer shelf life and does not require refrigeration until opened, making it a convenient option for those who live in areas where fresh meat is difficult to obtain or expensive.

Ultimately, the choice between canned ham and Spam comes down to personal preference and dietary needs. Both options have their pros and cons, and it’s up to the consumer to decide which one is right for them. It’s important to note that neither canned ham nor Spam should be consumed in excess due to their high sodium and preservative content.