What Is Hickory Honey Ham? The Key Facts

Hickory Honey Ham is a delicious and flavorful type of ham that has been cured and smoked with hickory wood and sweetened with honey.

This ham is perfect for any occasion, whether it’s a holiday feast or a simple sandwich. The combination of smoky and sweet flavors makes it a favorite among many meat lovers.

In this article, we will dive deeper into what makes Hickory Honey Ham so special and how you can enjoy it at home. So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn all about this mouth-watering ham.

What Is Hickory Honey Ham?

Hickory Honey Ham is a type of ham that has been cured and smoked with hickory wood and sweetened with honey. The hickory wood gives the ham a smoky flavor, while the honey adds a touch of sweetness.

This ham is typically made from the hind leg of a pig and can be found in various forms, including whole, sliced, spiral sliced, bone-in, and boneless. It is fully cooked and can be served cold or warmed up.

The History Of Hickory Honey Ham

The origins of ham can be traced back to ancient times, with the oldest surviving book of Latin prose from the first century BC including instructions for preparing ham. The word “ham” comes from the Old English “hom” or “ham,” which means the bend or hollow of the knee. However, it wasn’t until the 15th century that this word started being used to refer to the cut of pork from a hog’s hind leg that we now know as ham.

The curing of ham had become a well-established practice by the time of the Roman Empire, with cured ham being a popular and tasty trade item. Cured ham from specific areas became particularly sought after because curing ham requires certain conditions. When curing meat, the environment cannot be so cold that the curing process can’t occur or the ham freezes. However, it also cannot be so warm that the ham spoils.

In the Old World, this need for the perfect curing conditions made geographic regions within Italy and Spain renowned for their delicious cured ham products. Nowadays, thanks to modern technology, climate control and automated food production processes, cured ham is made all over the world. However, many regions of the world are still known for specializing in ham products. For example, Europe is regarded for its prosciutto di Parma and the United States is famous for its Smithfield ham.

The history of Hickory Honey Ham can be traced back to Harry Hoenselaar, who created a bone-in spiral-slicer that smoked and cooked a ham in 1924. He said the idea for the spiral ham slicer “came to him in a dream”. Hoenselaar built his prototype spiral slicer using “a tire jack, a pie tin, a washing machine motor, and a knife”. In the 1930s, Hoenselaar sold honey-glazed hams to drugstores in Detroit. Hoenselaar taught lunch counter clerks the proper procedure of slicing ham for sandwiches with a knife; he later bought that drugstore in Detroit from the widow of the previous owner for five hundred dollars.

With Hoenselaar’s commitment to his slicer and residing in Detroit, he founded The HoneyBaked Ham Company and Café in 1957. When the company expanded nationally, he divided the country into four territories and assigned a territory to each of his four daughters. The company is presently headed by Hoenselaar’s granddaughter, Linda van Rees, who moved the headquarters to Alpharetta in 2015.

Today, Hickory Honey Ham is a popular type of ham that has been cured and smoked with hickory wood and sweetened with honey. It is loved by many people for its unique smoky flavor and sweetness.

The Curing And Smoking Process

The process of making Hickory Honey Ham involves both curing and smoking. The ham is first cured in a brine solution that contains salt, sugar, and other flavorings. This wet-curing process helps to preserve the meat and add flavor.

After the curing process is complete, the ham is then smoked over hickory wood chips for up to 24 hours. This smoking process infuses the ham with a rich smoky flavor that is characteristic of hickory wood. The smoking also helps to further preserve the ham and gives it a beautiful mahogany color.

During the smoking process, the ham is carefully monitored to ensure that it is not over-smoked. The goal is to add just the right amount of smoke flavor without making the ham taste overly smoky.

Once the smoking process is complete, the ham is allowed to rest and cool before being sliced or packaged for sale. Some manufacturers may also apply a honey glaze or rub to the ham after smoking to add a touch of sweetness and enhance its flavor.

The Sweet And Smoky Flavor Profile

The combination of hickory smoke and honey creates a unique flavor profile for Hickory Honey Ham. The slow smoking process with hickory wood infuses the ham with a smoky aroma and flavor that is distinct from other types of ham. The sweetness from the honey glaze balances out the smokiness, creating a savory-sweet taste that is highly sought after.

The sweetness of the honey is not overwhelming, but rather complements the smokiness of the ham. This makes it a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Hickory smoked honey can be used as a glaze for ham or salmon, as an ingredient in barbecue sauce, or even as a condiment to drizzle over fried chicken, salads, or ice cream.

It’s important to note that all pork products labeled as “ham” have been cured with nitrate solutions to give them their characteristic pink color and tender texture. The type of wood used for smoking, such as hickory or applewood, will impact the smoke flavor of the ham. Hickory wood typically has a stronger smoke flavor than applewood.

Serving Suggestions And Pairings

Hickory Honey Ham is a versatile dish that can be served in many different ways. Here are some serving suggestions and pairings to make the most out of this delicious ham:

1. Traditional Sides: Hickory Honey Ham is perfect alongside traditional sides such as potatoes, Brussels sprouts, peas, and green bean casserole. The smoky flavor of the ham pairs well with the earthy flavors of these sides.

2. Honey Glazed Carrots: If you’re looking for a colorful and flavorful side dish, honey glazed carrots are a great option. These oven-roasted carrots are coated in honey, brown sugar, and herbs, creating a sweet and savory blend that complements the ham perfectly.

3. Local Wines: No holiday meal is complete without a local wine by its side. The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail offers several wines that pair perfectly with Hickory Honey Ham. Rosé wines are a great match for the ham, as they have elegant flavors of strawberry, cherry, and even citrus and floral. Traminette is a crisp white wine with honeyed flavors that pairs well with seasoned ham. Chambourcin is an exciting wine for any palate, with bright fruit flavors and a hint of spice that make it an excellent match for smoked ham. Seyval Blanc and Vidal Blanc are tasty white wines that offer refreshing aromas and flavors that pair extremely well with baked ham with pineapple garnish. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try Kir – a blend of black currants and apples that balances tartness and sweetness perfectly.

4. Gift or Main Dish: Hickory Honey Ham makes for an excellent gift or main dish at any time of the year. It is fully cooked and can be served warmed or cold. To heat, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, place the ham on a rack in a roasting pan with 1 cup of water in the bottom of the pan, cover with foil, and heat for 10-15 minutes per pound or until it reaches 140 F. Basting is encouraged to achieve your preferred level of glaze.

How To Incorporate Hickory Honey Ham Into Your Meals

Hickory Honey Ham is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate it into your meals:

1. Breakfast: Add diced Hickory Honey Ham to your omelette or scrambled eggs for a delicious and filling breakfast. You can also use it as a topping for your breakfast sandwich or mix it into your breakfast hash.

2. Sandwiches: Use sliced Hickory Honey Ham as the main ingredient in your sandwich. Add some cheese, lettuce, and tomato for a classic ham and cheese sandwich. You can also use it in a wrap or panini for a warm and toasty lunch.

3. Salads: Add diced Hickory Honey Ham to your salad for a protein boost. It pairs well with greens, fruits, and nuts. You can also use it in a pasta salad or potato salad for an extra layer of flavor.

4. Entrees: Use Hickory Honey Ham as the main ingredient in your dinner entree. It pairs well with roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, and gravy. You can also use it in casseroles or quiches for a hearty and flavorful meal.

5. Snacks: Use sliced Hickory Honey Ham as a snack on its own or pair it with cheese and crackers for a quick and easy appetizer.

No matter how you choose to use Hickory Honey Ham, its smoky and sweet flavor is sure to add depth and complexity to any dish.

Health Benefits And Nutritional Information

Hickory Honey Ham is a good source of protein, containing 16.1g of protein per 100g serving. Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in building and repairing tissues in the body, including muscles, bones, and skin. The protein found in Hickory Honey Ham is also high in quality, as it contains all of the essential amino acids that the body needs to function properly.

In addition to its protein content, Hickory Honey Ham also contains other important nutrients. It is a good source of vitamin B12, which is necessary for healthy nerve function and the production of red blood cells. It also contains zinc, which is important for immune system function and wound healing.

It is important to note that Hickory Honey Ham is also high in sodium, with 100g serving containing about 1,300mg of sodium. This can be a concern for individuals who need to limit their sodium intake, such as those with high blood pressure or kidney disease.