Is Ham Poultry? (Fully Explained)

Ham is a popular meat that has been enjoyed for centuries. It’s a versatile ingredient that can be used in sandwiches, salads, and even as a main course.

But have you ever wondered if ham is considered poultry?

In this article, we’ll explore the origins of ham, its nutritional value, and whether or not it falls under the category of poultry.

So, grab a slice of ham and let’s dive in!

Is Ham Poultry?

The short answer is no, ham is not poultry. Poultry refers to domesticated birds that are raised for their meat and eggs, such as chickens, turkeys, and ducks. Ham, on the other hand, comes from the hind leg of a pig.

While ham is not considered poultry, it is still a popular meat that is enjoyed around the world. It can be prepared in a variety of ways, including wet or dry curing and smoking. Some regional specialties include Westphalian ham from Germany and Spanish jamón.

Ham is also a good source of nutrients, including selenium, iron, thiamine, and other B vitamins. It contains all nine essential amino acids and provides phosphorus, zinc, and potassium. Additionally, ham is a lean protein that can aid in energy production and cell messaging throughout the body.

The Origins Of Ham

The history of ham can be traced back to ancient times when preservation and storage of food were crucial for the development of civilizations. Drying, smoking, and curing were some of the earliest methods discovered by the ancients. The advent of curing enabled cities, people, and cultures to flourish.

The preserving of pork leg as ham has a long history, with traces of production of cured ham among the Etruscan civilization known in the 6th and 5th century BC. Cato the Elder wrote about the “salting of hams” in his De agri cultura tome around 160 BC. The popularity of ham can also be traced to the producers’ geographic location. The conditions required for curing meat need to be such that it is not so cold that the ham freezes, unable to cure, or too warm causing the ham to spoil. The result is distinct areas around the world renowned for their particular hams.

China is often credited with curing the first pork leg back in 4900 B.C., and enthusiasm for ham spread throughout ancient Europe with the Romans, who likely learned of the practice while trading with the Chinese. A surprisingly workable recipe for ham with figs survived from the second century when it commanded attention on ancient banquet tables. The Gauls produced precursors to the contemporary world’s renowned Bayonne, Black Forest, and Westphalian hams.

Christopher Columbus carried eight pigs on board with him when he left Spain for an unsuccessful search for the New World, but explorer Hernando de Soto’s 13 pigs became the breeding stock for the United States’ pork industry when he landed on the coast of Florida in 1539. Within just a few years, his passel of hogs grew to 700. By the 17th century, most colonial farmers raised pigs. The long shelf-life of salt pork and bacon made both staples in early American kitchens.

The expression “high on the hog” seems to have developed from the literal position of the ham on the upper half of the pig (as opposed to the belly, shanks, and trotters) and came to connote a luxurious lifestyle of dining on the best cuts of meat.

Today, with the advent of technology, climate control, and mechanization of many food production methods, geographic location has become less important for the production of ham. However, these original ham centers are still prized as being some of the finest ham producing regions today. Ham remains one of the most consumed pork products in the world and is enjoyed in various forms across different cultures.

Nutritional Value Of Ham

Ham is a processed meat that is cured using salt, sodium, potassium nitrate, nitrites, and sometimes sugar, seasonings, phosphates, and other compounds. While this process enhances the pork’s flavor and reduces bacterial growth, it changes the nutritional content of ham and classifies it as processed meat. According to the USDA, a 3.5-ounce serving of cooked ham contains 139 calories, 5 grams of fat, 22 grams of protein, and 1 gram of carbohydrates. It also has a high sodium content with 1290 milligrams per serving, which is over half of the recommended daily value.

Despite its high sodium content, ham is a good source of essential nutrients. It is particularly rich in selenium, providing up to 76% of the daily value per 2 ounces depending on the type. Selenium is an essential nutrient that aids reproduction, DNA construction, and defense from infections. Compared to poultry and fish, pork products like ham are higher in iron, thiamine, and other B vitamins. Ham also provides all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Amino acids help build proteins and play critical roles in metabolism, gene expression, and cell communication.

In addition to selenium and amino acids, ham contains decent amounts of phosphorus, zinc, and potassium. These minerals help the body produce energy, fight infections and maintain heart health. Furthermore, ham is a rich dietary source of carnosine, choline, and coenzyme Q10 — compounds that aid energy production and cell messaging throughout your body.

Ham is a lean protein that contains important vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It is particularly beneficial for the elderly who may experience muscle loss known as sarcopenia. However, it is important to note that the fat content in ham should be monitored as it can increase cholesterol levels. The outer surface of ham usually has a layer of fat that adds flavor and juiciness to the meat as it cooks. This fat should be trimmed off before serving.

What Is Poultry?

Poultry refers to a group of domesticated birds that are raised for food, fiber, or entertainment purposes. These birds include chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, quail, pheasants, ostriches, and many more. Chickens are the most commonly raised poultry in the United States and around the world. However, other types of poultry are also raised commercially or domestically for their meat, eggs, or feathers.

Poultry farming has become an important industry worldwide due to the high demand for poultry meat and eggs. In fact, poultry represents the largest domestic animal stock in the world. Poultry meat and eggs are affordable sources of high-quality protein that provide essential nutrients for human health.

Apart from their commercial importance, poultry can also be raised domestically for personal use or entertainment purposes. For instance, pigeons are often raised for entertainment purposes and can even be trained to carry messages.

Ham Vs. Poultry: What’s The Difference?

While ham and poultry both fall under the category of meat, there are some key differences between the two. The most obvious difference is that ham comes from a pig, while poultry refers to domesticated birds such as chickens and turkeys.

In terms of nutritional content, there are also some differences between ham and poultry. Ham tends to be higher in calories and fat than chicken, with 263 calories per 100 grams compared to chicken’s 189 calories. However, chicken is much higher in protein than ham, with a macronutrient ratio of 49:0:51 compared to ham’s 25:3:72 for protein, carbohydrates, and fat from calories.

When it comes to micronutrients, both ham and poultry are good sources of essential vitamins and minerals. However, ham tends to contain slightly higher levels of micronutrients than chicken, including selenium, iron, and thiamine.

One major concern with ham is its high sodium content. Processed meats like ham are often high in sodium, which can increase the risk of certain health problems. In contrast, chicken is a leaner protein that is lower in sodium and a healthier option overall.

Cooking With Ham And Poultry: Tips And Recipes.

When it comes to cooking with ham and poultry, there are endless possibilities for creating delicious and satisfying meals. Here are some tips and recipes to get you started:

1. Use leftover ham in soups, stews, and casseroles. Ham adds a rich, smoky flavor to these dishes and pairs well with vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and green beans.

2. Try wrapping chicken or turkey breasts in ham before baking or grilling. This technique, known as “chicken cordon bleu,” adds flavor and moisture to the meat while keeping it tender and juicy.

3. Make a classic ham and cheese sandwich using sliced deli ham and your favorite cheese. Toast the bread and add lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise for a satisfying lunch or dinner option.

4. For a hearty breakfast or brunch, make a frittata with diced ham, eggs, cheese, and vegetables like spinach or bell peppers. This dish can be served hot or cold and is perfect for feeding a crowd.

5. For a quick and easy weeknight meal, try making chicken or turkey cutlets topped with ham and Swiss cheese. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

No matter how you choose to cook with ham and poultry, these ingredients are sure to add flavor and nutrition to your meals. Experiment with different recipes and techniques to find your favorite dishes!