Why Is It Called Tavern Ham? Experts Explain

Ham is a beloved meat that has been enjoyed for centuries, and there are many different types of ham available on the market.

One type of ham that you may have heard of is tavern ham. But what exactly is tavern ham, and why is it called that?

In this article, we’ll explore the origins of tavern ham and what makes it unique compared to other types of ham.

Whether you’re a foodie or just curious about the history of this popular meat, read on to learn more about tavern ham and its fascinating backstory.

Why Is It Called Tavern Ham?

Tavern ham gets its name from its historical association with taverns and inns. In the past, taverns were popular gathering places where people would come to socialize, drink, and eat. Tavern owners would often serve a variety of foods to their patrons, including ham.

Tavern ham is a heavily smoked ham that was traditionally served all day long to tavern patrons. It was left out on the bar for people to take as they pleased, and its salty flavor made it a popular snack to pair with beer or other alcoholic beverages.

The term “tavern ham” is believed to have originated during the Revolutionary War era, when taverns were common meeting places for soldiers and civilians alike. It was a convenient and tasty food option that could be enjoyed by anyone who stopped by the tavern.

What Is Tavern Ham?

Tavern ham is a type of ham that is heavily smoked and has a rich, smoky flavor. It is typically made from pork, but can also be made from other meats such as turkey or beef. Tavern ham is often boneless and easy to carve, making it a convenient option for serving to family and friends.

One popular brand of tavern ham is Dietz & Watson® Tavern Ham, which is handcrafted and contains no added MSG. This fully cooked product is also free from gluten, making it a great option for those with dietary restrictions.

Another popular brand of tavern ham is Boar’s Head Tavern Ham, which is naturally smoked for a full smoky flavor. This ham brings old-fashioned goodness to the modern family table.

The History Of Tavern Ham

The history of ham can be traced back to ancient traditions of preserving and storing food. Drying, smoking, and curing were some of the earliest methods discovered by the ancients, which enabled cities, people, and cultures to flourish. The preserving of pork leg as ham has a long history, with many crediting the Chinese as being the first people to record curing raw hams, while others have cited the Gauls. It cannot be argued though that it was certainly a well-established practice by the Roman period.

Cato the Elder wrote extensively 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.

Italian prosciutto and Spanish Serrano, as well as American country ham from Kentucky and Virginia are all located on what can be described as the world’s Ham Belt—a geographic area bound by latitude and historically producing the world’s most revered hams.

With the advent of technology, climate control, and the mechanization of many of our food production methods, geographic location has become less important for the production of ham. But these original ham centers are still prized as being the finest ham producing regions today.

The history of tavern ham is closely linked to these early traditions of ham production. Tavern owners would often smoke and cure their own hams to serve to their patrons. The heavily smoked flavor of tavern ham made it a popular snack to pair with beer or other alcoholic beverages.

Over time, tavern ham became a staple food item in taverns across America. It was served all day long to patrons who were looking for a quick and tasty snack. Today, tavern ham is still enjoyed by many people across America, and its unique history continues to make it a popular food item in taverns and homes alike.

How Tavern Ham Is Made

Tavern ham is made from the hind leg of a pig that has been salt-cured and heavily smoked. The curing process involves rubbing the meat with a mixture of salt, sugar, and other spices, and then allowing it to sit for several days. This draws out the moisture from the meat and helps to preserve it.

After the curing process is complete, the ham is hung in a smokehouse and smoked over hardwood for several hours. This gives the ham its distinctive smoky flavor and aroma. The longer the ham is smoked, the stronger its flavor will be.

Once the smoking process is complete, the ham is aged for several months to further develop its flavor and texture. During this time, it is hung in a cool, dry place where it can slowly dry out and become more flavorful.

When it’s ready to be served, tavern ham can be sliced thinly and served as part of a sandwich or charcuterie board. It can also be used in cooking, adding a rich, smoky flavor to soups, stews, and other dishes.

What Makes Tavern Ham Unique

Tavern ham is a unique type of ham that is heavily smoked and has a distinct salty flavor. It is typically made from a boneless cut of ham that has been salt-cured for a rich, traditional taste. Unlike other types of ham, tavern ham is meant to be served all day long and is often left out on the bar for patrons to help themselves to.

One of the key factors that sets tavern ham apart from other types of ham is its smoking process. Tavern ham is usually smoked for an extended period of time, which gives it a robust and intense flavor that pairs well with beer and other alcoholic beverages. It is also typically dry-cured with salt and other spices, which helps to enhance its natural flavor.

Another unique aspect of tavern ham is its texture. While it may be similar in appearance to other boneless hams, tavern ham has a firm and dry texture that makes it easy to slice and serve. This makes it a popular choice for delis and restaurants, where it can be used in a variety of dishes.

How To Enjoy Tavern Ham In Your Cooking

Tavern ham is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some tips on how to enjoy tavern ham in your cooking:

1. Breakfast: Tavern ham is a great addition to breakfast dishes like omelets, quiches, and breakfast sandwiches. Its smoky flavor pairs well with eggs and cheese, and adds a savory element to your morning meal.

2. Sandwiches: Tavern ham is a classic sandwich ingredient that can be used in a variety of ways. Try it with Swiss cheese and mustard on rye bread for a classic Reuben sandwich, or pair it with cheddar cheese and apple slices for a sweet and savory combination.

3. Salads: Tavern ham can add protein and flavor to salads. Try adding diced tavern ham to a spinach salad with strawberries and balsamic vinaigrette for a delicious lunch option.

4. Soups: Tavern ham can add depth of flavor to soups and stews. Try adding diced tavern ham to split pea soup or potato soup for a hearty meal.

5. Appetizers: Tavern ham can be used in appetizers like deviled eggs or crostini. Try topping crostini with tavern ham, goat cheese, and fig jam for an easy and elegant appetizer.

When using tavern ham in your cooking, be mindful of its salty flavor and adjust the seasoning in your dish accordingly. With its smoky flavor and versatility, tavern ham is a great ingredient to have on hand for quick and easy meals.