repackaging a ham
I like to buy a whole ham when the price is reasonably low.
At the regular price of about $2+/lb. this may only be slightly better priced than pre-packaged sliced ham, but there is a big difference in quality.
Marielos and I both love the taste and texture of this thick-sliced ham. It is so much better than store-bought sliced ham. I find that so many ham products aren't much more than beautified spam nowadays.
There are also that big bone and some skin, fat and other waste, but at least I can see that this is the real thing, instead of chopped up and reshaped mystery meat.
Butt ham is nicer quality with larger muscle groups than shank ham. Since 2019, I have started deboning the ham before slicing it. I may not get the nice steaks that way, because the large muscles tend to separate from each other without the bone, but that is a minor issue, because I usually break up those big steaks anyway.
Once I have dissected the ham, I repackage it in smaller portions that will last the two of us a day or 2. The bags are vacuum-sealed and go in the freezer.
Peppers had a truck load of half-hams on sale for the holly days.
Butt ham $1.19/lb. and shank ham $0.99/lb. That really makes it worthwhile stocking up. Walmart was selling the same for more than double that price, now we know what that 'always the lowest price' promise is really worth.
Butt ham has nicer meat (larger muscles) that is a more tender than shank ham, hence the higher price. Still, it doesn't get any better than that.
I bought 4 shank hams and 2 butt hams.
Instead of always cutting ham steaks first, I started removing the bone first (Pic2) and then separated the big muscles.(pic3) It doesn’t look as nice as when I cut ham steaks, but it makes it easy to remove the white connective tissue between the muscles.
I like to eat that soft white stuff, but Missy doesn't say no to it either.
Compare: 10 lb. shank ham @ 99 cents / lbs. vs. sliced ham @ $6/2 lbs.
- I would need 4 lbs. of clean ham to come out ahead. I have almost 6 lbs. of clean ham that is a much better quality meat than the mystery meat they put in ‘shaped’ pre-packaged sliced ham. This ham has a real muscle texture and better meat flavor.
- The knee or elbow joints are smaller than the hip joint in butt ham. They are more superficial and thus easier to remove. Buying that dog bone separately would cost at least $3. Missy, our dog gets a happy morning chewing on a 'free' big bone with a nice chunk of meat.
- It's labeled as 'super-trim' but there is about 2 lbs. (20%) of superficial fat and skin. Even that doesn't go to waste. I chopped it small and will give it the feral cats that hang around the house. They will benefit from some extra fat in this cold weather. Buying that pork fat separately would cost another $2-4.
- Overall conclusion: a very good deal.
Of course, I don't eat all of this at once. I vacuum-seal and store the packages in the freezer.
Pic1a: butt ham -
Pic1b: shank ham - 2019-1215
This is what you need for many servings:
1 cryovac ham, 10+ lbs.
a long-bladed sharp knife
vacuum-seal machine + bags
2019-10-12: shank ham, the big ham steaks first
Pic2: cut from the outside towards the center bone all around the ham
Pic3: cut around the bone to get the ham steak loose and remove it
Pic4: bone sticking out
Pic5: around the joint, the meat is all on one side
Pic6: below the joint, the pieces are small, fatty and tendinous
Pic7: beautiful vacuum-sealed ham steaks and 'leftovers'
2019-12-15: shank ham: debone first = no big steaks
Pic5: the knee joint and shin bone
Pic6: without the bone, the muscle groups tend to separate
Pic7: sliced and ready for repackaging
2017-12-18: butt ham
Pic8: ham steaks + thick slices
Pic9: the little pieces
Pic10: trim pieces for the dog
Open the package, drain and discard any liquid inside.
- Trim away as much skin and outside fat as you can.
- Cut from the outside towards the center bone all the way around the ham.
- Carefully cut in the center around the bone to get that steak loose.
- I always cut a 3 to 4 full-size steaks (Pic2, rear) before the bone gets in the way too much.
- When you can't cut a nice steak anymore, debone the ham by cutting all around as close to the bone as possible until comes free. Our dog loves it when I give her that bone. It keeps her occupied for a few hours.
- Once the bone is gone, the different muscles can easily be separated along the membranes that surround each muscle.
Trim away the soft gristle between the muscles.
Either eat it yourself, or feed it to the dog. I share it with the dog.
Cut the larger muscles in slices. (Pic2, front) These are still nicely stackable for repackaging.
Especially with shank ham, there will be many small end pieces that aren't worth the effort of slicing.
I bag those a few together, just the right size for a little breakfast snack. (Pic3)
The cartilage and whitish pieces that aren't completely fat go to the dog. The cats won't touch those. They'll only accept the red muscle meat.
Vacuum-seal and freeze for later use.
Don't forget to mark and date the packages.