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What is Uncured Ham?

If you’re not sure what the difference is between cured vs uncured ham, you’re not alone! Uncured ham has caused a bit of confusion in the world of food, but these FAQs and answers will dive into the details behind it so that we can all better understand what it is.

What is uncured ham, exactly? Uncured ham, also known as fresh ham, is from the same cut of pork as cured ham.

What makes it different from cured ham is that it isn’t soaked in a chemical brine solution.

Roasted honey uncured ham sliced

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What Is Uncured Ham?

In order to understand what uncured ham is, it’s important to understand why meats are cured in the first place.

The purpose of curing meat is to remove excess moisture and to preserve its freshness by preventing bacterial growth. Curing not only prolongs meat’s shelf-life, but it also has the ability to enhance its colors and flavors.

One reason why there is so much confusion around uncured ham in particular is because there is a common misconception that it is completely uncured. 

Despite the typical meaning of the name, uncured ham actually has been cured. The curing process in this case is simply different from the more traditional one that cured ham goes through. 

Unlike cured ham, uncured ham has not been treated with the same chemical brine solution. Instead, it’s prepared with natural salts and other flavorings that will help to keep it fresh. 

What Does Uncured Ham Taste Like?

Both cured and uncured ham are delicious and have a flavor that is both salty and sweet. However, due to the different way that it is preserved, uncured ham doesn’t taste exactly the same as cured ham. 

So what is uncured ham like in terms of taste? Ham that is uncured is generally less salty. Some people say that it tastes more like pork tenderloin than it does a typical ham.

Is Uncured Ham Healthier?

Many people have asked: what does uncured ham mean in terms of the health benefits? Is it healthier than cured ham?

The answer is yes! Uncured ham is thought to be healthier than cured ham since it is prepared with more natural ingredients. 

Since uncured ham tends to be less salty than cured ham, it is a great option for individuals whose diet requires a lower sodium intake.

Uncured deli ham sliced into thinly cut slices

What Is The Difference Between Cured Ham And Uncured Ham?

The simplest way to explain the difference between cured vs uncured ham is that cured ham is preserved with artificial nitrates, and uncured ham is preserved with more natural ingredients. These natural ingredients are derived from food sources such as vegetables.

Since uncured ham is made without nitrates, it is fresher and has a shorter shelf life than cured ham — and will need to be consumed sooner.

Does Uncured Ham Need to be Cooked?

I’ve been asked if it is safe to eat uncured ham that hasn’t been cooked by heat. Most uncured ham sold in the US is actually already cooked, whether it’s uncured or cured. Just look for the “fully cooked” label when purchasing your ham!

This is also why deli ham can be labeled as uncured as it’s already cooked and ready to eat!

While uncured ham does not need to be cooked before you consume it, you can certainly cook it if you desire! You can enjoy it hot or cold –– it’s up to you and your own personal preference! Check the packaging also, as it may offer guidance on whether or not it should be cooked first.

Closeup of cooked uncured ham slices

How To Cook Uncured Ham

It’s important to remember that uncured does not mean uncooked. In fact, most uncured hams are already pre-cooked and just need to be heated up in the oven until they are perfectly warm and juicy. 

To cook uncured ham, preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes per pound. The amount of time you need to heat your ham through may vary based on the overall size and weight of the ham.

Be sure to always check the packaging as it should indicate whether or not the ham has been pre-cooked, and it may give you helpful instructions that you can use for cooking. 

Serving Suggestions For Uncured Ham

What is uncured ham good with? There are so many different ways to enjoy this delicious meat. You can serve it up with a side of eggs for breakfast, or use it as lunch meat to put together a tasty sandwich. 

Uncured ham will also be fantastic with my garlic mashed potatoes, or these crispy air fryer green beans!

If you’re a fan of the pineapple and ham combination, you will absolutely love this sweet and tangy pineapple sauce on top of your uncured ham.

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I’m Samantha, a stay-at-home-mom of 2. I’m here to make being in the kitchen so much easier for you!

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