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Old 11-14-2017, 12:39 PM   #1
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Soaking Ham to Reduce Salt?

First, I'll just prefix this post by stating that I eat very little ham, and haven't made it more than a handful of times in my life. I just don't care for it all that much. Be that as it may, for some reason I was tasked with bringing ham to Thanksgiving dinner next week.

At the dinner will be my 85-year-old ex-FIL, who was diagnosed about a year ago with congestive heart failure. He's supposed to carefully monitor his sodium intake. Unfortunately, ham is his favorite meat and he likes it for Thanksgiving. Now I certainly wouldn't want to deny him his ham, but I would also like to take a stab at making it a little healthier for him.

So I did some research, and came across articles suggesting you can soak ham for a few days in water to leach out some of the salt. Has anyone tried this before, and if so, how did it come out? I'm doubtful you could actually lower the salt content much with this method. But I don't really know.

On a somewhat related note, I'm planning to cook the ham in a sous vide. Since the ham is already cooked, and all I'm really doing is reheating it, it seems like the perfect cooking method.

Any thoughts?

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Old 11-14-2017, 01:15 PM   #2
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My Mom would soak a southern-style country ham for a few days when we would bring them home to her from Williamsburg. It was a full leg, skin on ham that she would trim after soaking. The thing was still salty...and totally delicious! (we like ham)

My MIL always boiled the ham for a while to reduce the salty taste. I would think it also removes some salt content. She'd toss it into the oven to brown it up after boiling.

I used to rinse my ham, then pour a small amount of red wine and ginger ale over it as a baste after studding the ham with cloves, then add a bit of brown sugar before popping into the oven to bake. It takes the salty taste away, but I bet it does nothing for actually reducing salt content. I don't bake ham that way anymore...adds an "off" taste to my ham-and-bean soups.

Apparently, using ginger ale isn't just my idea. Here is an interesting take from Genius Kitchen: How Canadians De-Salt Their Ham.

Good luck with the ham, Steve!
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Old 11-14-2017, 01:29 PM   #3
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Steve, do you have a dry aged ham or a “wet” or city ham? I think soaking is for dry hams such as a Smithfield. You can still soak it but I don’t know how much salt it removes.
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Old 11-14-2017, 01:39 PM   #4
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I've soaked ham to reduce the salt, it does work. Osmosis, baby!
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Old 11-14-2017, 02:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Steve, do you have a dry aged ham or a “wet” or city ham? I think soaking is for dry hams such as a Smithfield. You can still soak it but I don’t know how much salt it removes.
It's a city ham, Andy.

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Originally Posted by PrincessFiona60 View Post
I've soaked ham to reduce the salt, it does work. Osmosis, baby!
Thanks, PF!

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Originally Posted by Cooking Goddess View Post
... Apparently, using ginger ale isn't just my idea. Here is an interesting take from Genius Kitchen: How Canadians De-Salt Their Ham.
I found a recipe that mentioned this, as well as another suggesting Coca-Cola. But some of the comments said that this technique probably only masks the saltiness with sugar. I think I might just give it a shot with plain water. Looks like I will have to make a "practice ham."
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Old 11-14-2017, 05:16 PM   #6
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Steve, I recommend Kentucky Legend brand ham, specifically their hickory smoked original flavor. Available locally at Lunds-Byerly and Target and probably more places. It tastes like an old hung in the rafters country ham, except it's fully cooked kind. Don't know about its or any ham salt content, although they have one variation that says lower sodium.

https://specialtyfoodsgroup.com/brands/
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Old 11-14-2017, 05:32 PM   #7
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I haven't soaked a ham, but I have soaked home cured bacon that was too salty twice and both times the saltiness was greatly decreased.
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Old 11-14-2017, 07:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrincessFiona60 View Post
I've soaked ham to reduce the salt, it does work. Osmosis, baby!
Yup! Exactly.
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Old 11-15-2017, 07:06 AM   #9
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When I lived at the family home with my parents, we always had a huge turkey, a large leg of ham and a whole rump of beef. My father was that kind of guy - he loved his lavish banquets on Christmas Day! We would put the leg of ham in cold water, changing the water frequently, for about - as I remember - a week, changing the water at least once or twice a day. Then it was boiled for a while, the skin then removed, the fat scored into diamond shapes, sugared with muscovado sugar and studded with cloves, one per diamond shape, and then it was slow-roasted in the oven. It was fantastic, moist, and flavoursome. Our family was large, so it never went to waste, but when I grew up and left home, I would still get a piece of ham and do it that way. It was always very popular with my own family and friends.

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PS If any of you have wondered whether or not journalist James Reston was a relative of mine - he was! (my father's cousin). But then, we're talking decades ago.
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