UACES Facebook Will You Have Ham for the Holidays
skip to main content

Will You Have Ham for the Holidays

I use this glaze on all of my hams, regardless of the season. I hope you'll give it a try. It might become your family's favorite as well.


Ham is the star of the show on my dining room table at Christmas. If you are buying the canned ham, I hope I can expand your horizons and help you choose between the many varieties out there.

Ham is second only to turkey, and a close second at that, when it comes to popular holiday entrees. In some parts of the country and on some holidays, ham might even be number one. This versatile cut of meat lends itself to a variety of styles and is sure to provide leftovers.

Hams are sold in several varieties, including boneless, canned, bone-in (another version is semi-boneless) 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.

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. Choose the ham you want based on cost and flavor preference.

If 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. With bone-in hams, you will be able to use the bone later to make a stock or use as seasoning in other foods.

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. 

Once you have determined that you received a good deal, it’s time to consider how you will store your ham until ready to cook. Store your ham in the coldest part of your refrigerator for two to five days or in the freezer for up to eight months.

When determining if your ham must be cooked, check the appearance. The color of lean fresh pork should be light pink; the bone centers should be pink. The color of cured pork such as ham should be a rosy-pink.

Before preparing, check the label for the words "fully cooked" or "cook before eating." Cook-before-eating hams or fresh hams must reach 160 °F to be safely cooked before serving. Cook in an oven set no lower than 325 °F. Hams can also be safely cooked in a microwave oven, other countertop appliances, and on the stove.

The popular spiral-cut cooked hams are also safe to eat cold. The unique slicing method, invented in 1957, solves any carving difficulties. These hams are best served cold because heating sliced whole or half hams can dry out the meat and cause the glaze to melt and run off the meat.

If you want to reheat your spiral cut cooked ham, it must be heated to 140 °F as measured with a food thermometer. To reheat a spiral-sliced ham in a conventional oven, cover the entire ham or portion with heavy aluminum foil and heat at 325 °F for about 10 minutes per pound.

For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaDueHadley, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at Click here for your edition of Ham for the Holidays or call our office at 870-779-3609.

This is the glaze that goes on all my hams, regardless of the season. I hope you give it a try and it becomes a favorite at your house as well.

Baked Ham with Brown Sugar Pineapple Glaze


1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1 (15 ounce) can pineapple slices, drained and juice reserved

1 (4-ounce) jar maraschino cherries (optional)

6-8 pound fully cooked, bone-in ham

whole cloves, optional

Place ham, fat side up, on rack in shallow roasting pan.  Insert meat thermometer through the end of the ham so the tip is in the center of the thickest part of the ham but does not touch the bone or fat.

Roast 12 to 16 minutes per pound in 325 degree oven or until thermometer reads 160 degrees.

Remove ham from the oven.  Pour drippings from roasting pan.  Remove any skin from the ham.  Cut top of ham lightly in uniform diamond shapes; insert whole cloves in each diamond (optional).  Lay pineapple slices and cherries on top of ham.  Drizzle half of the glaze on the ham.  Roast uncovered about 20 minutes; add remaining glaze and roast 10 minutes more.

Cover ham with tent of aluminum foil, or roaster lid and let stand 10 minutes before moving to serving plate and carving.

To make glaze:  In heavy saucepan, mix brown sugar and cornstarch.  Add reserved pineapple juice and prepared mustard; stir well.  Bring this mixture to a boil and continue to cook until the mixture has boiled for 1 minute.

Tried and True Tip:     To make an easy garnish for your ham, use thin orange slices, and maraschino cherries, or clusters of sugared grapes and mint sprigs.

By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609


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 Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of 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.