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Tips on choosing and cooking that perfect Easter ham.
Nashville, Ark. - With Easter just around the corner, have you thought about what
you will serve for dinner? If you are planning to have family members, and you have
a large family, you may be thinking of serving ham. At my house, ham is the traditional
meat served on this special holiday.
Hams are sold in several varieties, including boneless, canned, bone-in
and country-style. Packaging may be canned, plastic wrapped, or vacuum packaged. Country
hams usually come with a cheesecloth like covering. It is important to refrigerate
plastic wrapped and vacuum-packed hams. Read the label for refrigeration instructions.
There is a wealth of information on the label. The “use-by” date is the
last day in which to cook the ham. The “sell-by” date is the last allowed date of
sale. The ham should be cooked within one week of the sell-by date or frozen properly
for use later on.
Maybe you are confused about what size of ham to buy to feed your dinner
guests. If you are serving a boneless ham, you can expect to get one-fourth to one-third
pounds per serving. Your bone-in hams will yield one-third to one-half pounds per
serving. Therefore, if you purchase a ten-pound bone-in ham, you can expect to feed
about twenty people. This is based on standard serving size, not portion size. You
will need to think about how much your family will eat. Some people may eat more than
a standard serving size. If so, a ten-pound ham may only feed 8-10 people.
With a bone-in ham, you will be able to use the bone later to make a stock
or use as a seasoning in other foods. Once Easter dinner is over, take the bone and
put it in a freezer bag, label with the date and put it in the freezer. Ham bones
will last about three months in the freezer for best quality.
To get the most value, look at the yield and cost per serving. The cost per serving
equals price per pound divided by the number of servings per pound. You may be able
to determine the best buy using unit pricing as a guide.
Once you have purchased your ham, you will need to store it in the coldest part of
your refrigerator for two to five days or you can store it in the freezer for up to
eight months for the best quality.
Before preparing, check the label for the words “fully cooked” or “cook before eating.”
“Fully cooked” hams will need to be heated to an internal temperature of 165⁰F. “Cook
before eating” or fresh hams should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145⁰F.
Most labels will say to allow 15 minutes per pound for cooking. So, you will need
to allow a minimum of 2 ½ hours to cook a ten-pound ham. The only way to really determine
if it is cooked to the correct internal temperature is to use a meat thermometer and
check. Cook the ham in an oven set no lower than 325⁰F.
What about the popular “spiral cut” hams? If you want to reheat them,
you should cover the entire ham or portion with heavy duty aluminum foil and heat
at 325⁰F for about 10 minutes per pound. You will need to check the internal temperature
with a meat thermometer to assure it reaches 145⁰F.
If you are interested in learning more about cooking foods safely, contact
the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on
the second floor of the courthouse. You can also go online to the USDA Food and Nutrition
site to learn more about preparing your ham safely at https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/meat/hams-and-food-safety#8.
Have a Happy Easter!
Recipe of the Week
Looking for a new recipe this Easter. Try this one from 4-H member, Sarah
Lamb. She placed 1st in the recent Dairy Foods Contest with this delicious salad recipe! It is a beautiful
salad that uses lots of fresh fruit and dairy products!
6 cups mixed berries – diced strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup + 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
8 oz. Greek yogurt
Additional berries and mint sprigs for garnish
By Jean Ince County Extension Agent - Staff ChairThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Jean Ince County Extension Agent - Staff ChairU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852 (870) 845-7517 email@example.com
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.