A tasty Easter ham is a must for the festive table, so here’s what to look out for when trying to choose the most delicious one.
Buying Easter ham is an important part of preparing for a festive meal in most households, as cooked ham is the centerpiece of the feast. Its consecration also traditionally marks the end of the 40-day fast from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday.
After the winter slaughter of the pigs, our ancestors preserved the ham by salting, smoking and curing it, and ate from it at Easter, after Lent for the first time. Many people look for the flavors of the old days when choosing ham, but sometimes they are disappointed. To avoid this, and to find a good quality, truly delicious product, there are a few things to consider when shopping for ham.
Here’s what to look out for when buying Easter ham
The name Easter ham covers a wide range of products. It can be raw, heat-treated, bone-in, boneless, skin-on or skinless. There is a huge choice on the shelves of shops and supermarkets, with a wide variation in price and quality.
If you don’t have an established place to buy, it can sometimes seem very difficult to find a truly delicious one, especially if you choose packaged ham, in which case you can’t see exactly what the meat is like.
To ensure that the ham on your Easter table is delicious, it’s good to take a few factors into account when shopping.
For packaged products, it’s essential to check the labels to see whether it’s real ham or, as it may be the case, pressed from meat pulp. The label will also tell you if the product has been heat treated. Traditionally, Easter ham is raw, smoked, and not precooked.
Although quick-cured products are generally cheaper, for better quality and a higher consumer experience, it is recommended to choose the traditional cured and hardwood-smoked rather than smoke-cured options. These products have a pleasant smoky flavor and a more enjoyable texture.
In addition to studying the label, it is also important to take a close look at the ham itself: if it is wrapped, the moisture around the meat can be seen easily, and if the product is too watery, it is usually of a poor quality. The ideal ham is neither too hard nor too soft to the touch, and it feels firm. If you are buying skin-on ham, the surface of the skin should be clean and smooth.
When the ham is cut in half, the cut, color and fat content can also be observed. A slightly dark color indicates a more mature, intense flavor, while a too dark, brownish shade may indicate dryness. It’s a good sign if you don’t see any bruising. Although many people nowadays are looking specifically for leaner meat, the more experienced will know that a little fat in Easter ham will enhance the taste experience!