Taste test: Baked hams for Easter

Epicurious

View gallery

.
 Carando Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Bone-In Ham

(Carando Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Bone-In Ham)

Easter's culinary traditions are about more than egg hunts (and leftovers), jelly beans, and chocolate bunnies. When families gather to celebrate, oftentimes a baked ham takes center stage on the table. While there are almost as many specialty hand-cured hams as there are flavors of jelly beans, these tend to cost between $50 and $80 each.

For those who are content to pick up a ham at the supermarket—one that is already cooked and, yes, more affordable—we've taken the guesswork out of which baked ham is best.





As usual, prior to our testing, we invested time researching the world of hams; you may want to put your concentration cap on for this one. Our ham selections took into consideration the most important factors: bone-in, semi-boneless, or boneless; spiral cut or not; half or whole sizes; style; and meat grade. Supermarket hams can be sold uncooked yet cured with salt and sugar (country style) or brined (injected with solution) and smoked and cooked (city style). The grade of the pork reflects the amount of water it contains; the more water, the lower the grade. The ham can be labeled as just ham (meaning it's the highest grade and no water has been added). It can be brined in its natural juices (water has been added and the ham is 10 percent water). It can be labeled as "ham, water added" (15 percent water), and/or it can be injected with ham and water product (50 percent water).

All judges agreed that the perfect ham should not be rubbery, taste like a salt lick, or feel slimy but should rather be tender, moist, and chewy. Most importantly, in terms of flavor, it should contain a combination of the three S's: sweet, salty, and smoky. Three hams fit the bill.

Best Baked Ham Overall

Winner: Carando Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Bone-In Ham (Pictured above left)
($4.49 per pound)

Pros: The judges unanimously agreed that Carando had the right balance of smokiness and saltiness. "It is tender and meaty, not flobbery—floppy and rubbery—like some of the others!" stated one judge. Another taster said, "I am not a big ham fan, but I would actually eat this variety again." This ham was also noted for its family-friendly size and easy-to-serve presentation.

Cons: Not as moist as a non-spiral-sliced ham.

(See also: High tech kitchen products)



View gallery

.
Cook's Half Bone-In Shank Ham brined with ham and water product

(Photo courtesy of Cook's Ham)

Baked Ham, First Runner-Up

Winner: Cook's Half Bone-In Shank Ham brined with ham and water product
($1.79 per pound)

Pros: "I like the nice rosy color and the mild, smoky, maple-sweet flavor; it makes me think this one is fresh and more natural," declared one editor.

Cons: Somewhat rubbery.



Ice Invaders Ice Cubes

(Photo by: stupid.com)

Baked Ham, Second Runner-Up

Winner: Niman Ranch Uncured Boneless Ham brined with natural juices
($9.99 per pound)

Pros: Nitrite-free and mild in flavor, with a hint of smokiness. "This one is pleasantly thick and moist," one editor observed.

Cons: Slightly spongy.


The Other Contenders: The Bottom Three

Boar's Head Black Forest Ham had several tasters concerned. Not only did a fluorescent pink tint permeate its surface, but it tasted fairly processed. "Perhaps this brand should always be eaten between two slices of bread," suggested one taster. Jones Dainty Ham was described as rather tough and rubbery. One editor compared it to "water with salt." Lastly, Thumann's Spiral Sliced Ham was greasy, flavorless, and "flobbery."

Additional Taste Test Details

The ten varieties of hams we tasted are available nationwide and include the following, listed from highest to lowest score in our taste test: Carando Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Bone-In, Cook's Traditional Half Bone-In Shank, Niman Ranch Uncured Boneless, Boar's Head Sweet Slice Smoked Boneless, Hormel Spiral Sliced Bone-In,* Smithfield Hickory Smoked Bone-In,* Hormel Cure 81 Boneless, Boar's Head Black Forest Smoked Boneless, Jones Naturally Smoked Dainty Ham Boneless, Thumann's Spiral Sliced Bone-In.

(*Asterisked brands received the same score.)

Methodology: In a blind taste test, seven judges compared the flavor, consistency, and appearance of baked ham. All varieties were cooked according to the directions on the packaging, which most often meant reheating the hams for 15 or 20 minutes per pound. (Glaze packets were included in the packaging but were not used in our testing.) We ranked the hams according to the Epicurious four-fork rating system, four being the best.

Prices and availability subject to change.


More from Epicurious:

Easy Family Dinners

25 Sandwich Makeovers

How to Eat Your Spring Veggies

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Julie Bowen Faces Criticism for Joking About Barron Trump During Inauguration

      Julie Bowen has come under fire for her comments about Barron Trump. Julie Bowen made Donald Trump’s inauguration more fun to watch, but not everyone appreciated her witty banter. The Modern Family star, who often details the funny antics of her own three sons, posted a few Instagram photos during the ceremony focusing on Barron Trump, the 10-year-old son of the new president and his wife, Melania.

      Yahoo Celebrity
    • Flight attendant shouts out all the 'nasty women' headed to the Women's March on Washington

      As hundreds of thousands of women head to Washington, D.C. ahead of Saturday's Women's March, shows of solidarity are making the rounds on the internet. Twitter user @FlorBlake shared a clip from her Spirit Airlines flight to Baltimore, where a flight attendant on board offered a show of solidarity for passengers headed to the march. SEE ALSO: How to get involved with the Women's March on Washington if you're not in D.C. Love a nasty woman flight attendant  Starting our wknd of amazing women because we can't give up! @SpiritAirlines #WomensMarchOnWashington pic.twitter.com/bWj89inKtJ — Flor Blake (@FlorBlake) January 20, 2017 "I just want to know, how many of you are going to the March on Washington?" the flight attendant asked to a show of hands and erupting cheers.  "You guys are going to the Women's March, right? Let's get a round of applause for all the nasty women on board," she said. "Stay safe, stay hydrated, have a good time, watch out for your fellow sisters. Just remember, we don't take no 'ish' from no man." On Thursday, a Southwest Airlines crew made a similar show of support when it turned on pink cabin lights for a plane full of women headed to the march. March organizers expect about 200,000 people to attend the march, while local law enforcement plans for up to 400,000, according to the New York Times . DCist reports that there are 2,066 buses registered to bring marchers to D.C. for Saturday, while 435 buses had permits to park in the city for Friday. Mashable has reached out to Spirit Airlines for comment. BONUS: Michelle Obama tears up during final speech as First Lady

      Mashable
    • Is There a Hidden Meaning Behind Melania Trump's Tiffany & Co. Inauguration Gift?

      On Friday morning during the traditional welcoming to the White House of the incoming president and first lady by the outgoing president and first lady before the inauguration, Melania Trump presented Michelle Obama with a gift from Tiffany & Co.

      Yahoo Style
    • Piers Morgan Is Getting Ripped Apart For Making The Women's March On Washington All About Him

      Tens of thousands women and men alike are expected to participate in the Women’s March on Washington and more than 600 sister marches planned across the country on Saturday. The march, scheduled to coincide with Donald Trump’s first full day as president (although he’s taking the weekend off) aims to “send a bold message to our new government… and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. Piers Morgan — who should probably stay off Twitter altogether — will not be walking with the Women’s March, but he will plan a Men’s March.

      UPROXX
    • ICYMI: Cowboys offseason races out gates with Romo trade, salary talk

      Even though it was nearly a week ago, the Cowboys divisional round loss to Green Bay still stings. It’s hard to close the door on a season that had so much promise, but there’s still much work to be done to improve on last season’s results. The offseason for Dallas has already started, as a To-Do list is quickly taking form. Already, the major question of what will happen to Tony Romo stares the Cowboys squarely in the face, as that decision will surely linger over this team until 2017 begins. In the meantime, catch up on anything you may have missed from the world of the Dallas Cowboys. FRIDAY, JANUARY 20 Tony Romo’s fate and ultimately trade value will be hotly contested all offseason, but

      Cowboys Wire q
    • President Trump’s Inauguration Crowd Doesn’t Look Like Barack Obama’s Did in 2009

      A side-by-side comparison of the crowds at former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump‘s respective inaugurations reveals that Trump’s crowd isn’t as large as he boasted it would be. Two aerial photographs of the National Mall from the two historic days reveal large patches of white ground exposed during Trump’s ceremony, spaces crowds had filled during Obama’s 2009 inauguration. Federal and local agencies estimated 700,000 to 900,000 people would be in Washington, D.C. for Trump’s inauguration on Friday, roughly half the number of people who attended Obama’s first presidential inauguration.

      People
    • Mariah Carey Feels ''Bad'' After James Packer Abruptly Leaves Her Tour

      "I don't know because I asked him if everything was good…I think he had to get back to deal with his own business," Mariah explains. "I just wish I had more time to give him, like more quality time to be with him but I really don't have that right now." Mimi is currently on tour with a demanding schedule and at the same time James has many work responsibilities of his own. So Mariah explains, "It's not really easy for us to spend time together."

      E! Online q
    • Smith & Wesson Big Loser as Army Picks Sig Sauer Pistol

      The U.S. Army awarded a contract valued at $580 million to Sig Sauer to purchase up to 500,000 new service pistols to replace the Beretta M9, which has been the Army's handgun of choice for 30 years.

      24/7 Wall St.
    • Sears is dying, and now it's running out of stuff to sell for cash

      At the rate it's going, Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) won't have anything left to sell to keep the lights on.  On Friday, ratings agency Moody's downgraded its credit rating on Sears to Caa2 from Caa1. The downgrade reflects the accelerating negative sales performance of Sears' business, Moody's said.  "Although Sears has been able to fund its continued cash shortfalls through planned asset monetization, and additional financings, a meaningful business turnaround in fiscal 2017 is critical given the continued reduction of its asset base", said Moody's Vice President, Christina Boni. "We expect operating cash flow to approach a disappointing loss of $1.5 billion for fiscal 2016." On the positive

      The Street q
    • Bella Hadid Wears Totally Sheer Shirt Without a Bra -- See the Daring Pic!

      The 20-year-old model was spotted out in Paris on Friday.

      Entertainment Tonight
    • Trump's First Executive Orders: Attacks ObamaCare, Raises Taxes

      Donald Trump signed several executive orders just minutes after the end of his inaugural parade. The earliest of them were designed to remove protections for middle-class homeowners, appoint people to his cabinet in contravention of law, freeze regulation of businesses, and make a symbolic gesture against the Affordable Care Act. So far, he has not yet begun construction on his border wall or begun to deport undocumented immigrants. He had previously promised to do both things in the first hours after taking office. Chief among the orders was one that allowed confirmation of Trump's nominees for defense secretary and homeland security secretary. James Mattis and John Kelly, respectively, were

      refinery29.com q
    • Ivanka Trump Has a Princess Moment in Carolina Herrera at Inaugural Balls

      For inauguration events, Ivanka Trump wore three Oscar de la Renta ensembles. But for the grand finale, the first daughter switched things up and opted for a piece from Carolina Herrera.

      Yahoo Style
    • Michelle Obama was given a gift and didn’t know what to do with it and we’re like “girl, same”

      If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a gift, you know it can sometimes be kind of awkward. Don’t get us…

      Hello Giggles
    • The Fried Chicken Everyone Is Talking About In Your State (52 photos)

      With help from our friends at Foursquare , we found the best-rated fried chicken spots across America. Did we get your state right? From Delish

      Delish
    • Double Murder Suspect Shoots Himself After Police Standoff on Bridge

      A Louisiana man shot himself Friday evening following an hours-long standoff at a New Orleans bridge as he was sought in connection with the double killings of a police officer and a woman earlier that day, police say. Sylvester Holt shot himself on the Crescent City Connection bridge, over the Mississippi River, according to Louisiana State Police trooper Melissa Matey. “After hours of negotiation with the Louisiana State Police crisis negotiation team, he refused to surrender and he shot himself in the chest,” says Matey.

      People
    • Trump Already Suspends Obama-Era FHA Mortgage Insurance Cut

      The contentious cut would have saved the average borrower about $500 per year and cushioned the market against rising rates. The post Trump Already Suspends Obama-Era FHA Mortgage Insurance Cut appeared first on Real Estate News & Advice | realtor.com®.

      Realtor.com
    • Ranking the 11 Greatest College Football Programs of All Time

      College football is full of tradition and history. Here is a look at the 11 greatest college football programs of all time.

      The Cheat Sheet q
    • Victim Claimes He Asked Target Security for Help Before Brutal Parking Lot Attack

      Security at a Target in Texas is being called into question after a man suffered a fractured skull when he was attacked in the store`s parking lot.

      Tribune