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Putting Your Best Ham Forward

Honey-Glazed Ham with Fresh Pineapple ChutneyThough deli meat ham is a lunchtime treat in its own right, nothing beats a beautifully lacquered, whole baked ham – except maybe the next day’s leftovers. Though many of us think of ham as a smoky, pink-colored holiday staple, this porcine cut has other sides, too. Master ham’s versatile nature and experiment with rubs, glazes, baked dishes and more before spring’s gatherings beckon.

Choosing the Right Ham

Are you a bone-in fresh or pre-cooked spiral-cut type?

  • Ham and Roasted Pear CrostiniFresh ham is uncooked and unsmoked – essentially a more glamorous pork roast. Select the shank side cut for a classic ham shape.
  • Precooked ham needs only a warm up in the oven to make it to the table – a weeknight workhorse or easy option for entertaining.
  • Bone-in ham will need longer in the oven than boneless ham and takes a bit of finesse to slice, but the bone adds additional flavor and helps to retain moisture.
  • Spiral cut ham is a dream for entertaining and guests, working equally well for make-your-own-sandwich affairs and more buttoned-up dinners alike.

Whatever your preference, you’ll rest easy knowing the hams in our fresh meat cases are from pigs raised to meet our high quality and animal welfare standards.

  • No antibiotics and growth hormones.
  • No animal byproducts in the feed.
  • Raised without gestation or farrowing crates.
  • Certified to the Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating program.
  • No added nitrates or nitrites, no artificial ingredients or preservatives and no added water.

Cooked to Perfection

  • Fresh ham does well with a spice rub, and depending on the size of your ham, you may need to cure the cut for up to four days before cooking.
  • Score the skin of fresh and precooked ham for visual appeal and to allow any rubs and glazes to seep in more deeply.
  • Allow the ham to sit at room temperature for up to an hour before baking to ensure the cut will be cooked through.
  • You may need to add a liquid to the baking dish when heating precooked hams to guarantee a moist end result.
  • Save glazes for the last hour of cook time as any sugary component of the glaze could burn if in the oven too long.
  • Plan for 1/4 to 1/2 pounds per serving for a boneless ham and 1/2 to 3/4 pounds per serving for a bone-in ham.

Ham with Buttermilk-Chive BiscuitsUsing Leftovers

What’s your favorite way to feature ham? Do you have any showstopping leftover concoctions?

Visit our spring gatherings site for more expert tips on what to cook and how to cook it, being the host- or host-ess with the most-est and fun ideas for cooking with kids.

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jb says …

Am interested in buying monthly meals of dry easy to prepare food - Tk U !!!

Birdie says …

One of my Dad's former grad students because somewhat of a homesteader in her private life and raised her own pigs. Each year we'd get a half or quarter pig. We'd smoke the hocks over a home-made smoker with wood from our property. Thankfully this was pre-Candid Camera and America's Funniest Home Videos. We also cooked pig underground on coals a few summers. It was a real hoot, and the outcome was delicious. I've never tasted anything like it since, and maybe never will.

Bernadette says …

I am interested in purchase of a bone-in ham, that has come from a "friendly farm", like that Flying Pigs Farm) mentioned in WSJ this past week. Can you advise what ham I can purchase at Whole Foods (E 57th location). I want a small ham for 3 people, so perhaps a 1/2 ham. Thank you, Bernadette

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@BERNADETTE - I was not able to find the WSJ posting to compare their standards to ours but I can assure you we take animal welfare standards to an extremely high level. You can see our 5-Step animal welfare rating system at http://wholefoods.com/about-our-products/quality-standards/animal-welfare-standards. Since our vendors will vary between store locations, I would suggest reaching out to the 57th st. location to see what step their bone-in ham is rated.

Kevin says …

I'm trying to find an 'uncooked' but 'smoked' ham, and it seems that most of the hams out there are already cooked and ready to eat out of the package. I never would have thought that the subject of 'ham' would require so much research and have so much contradictory info out there! Does Whole Foods carry smoked but uncooked hams? i.e. not necessarily 'fresh (uncured and unsmoked)' but not edible straight out of the package?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@KEVIN - Since our products vary between locations, I cannot exactly say what each location has in stock. I would suggest to check with your local store to see what options they have.

Lynn says …

What process/ingredients do you use to cure your precooked hams?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LYNN - This will differ between vendors. Check with your local store to see how their vendors process their ham.

Michael Stoken says …

Is there a Whole Foods in north suburban Chicago where I can buy FRESH hams? By fresh, I mean uncooked, unsmoked, uncured - just raw pork.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MICHAEL - Our exact products differ between stores. I would suggest reaching out to the store directly to see what they have in stock. You can find a list of stores at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.

Cate Goodin says …

I am searching for ham bones! I know you do a lot of catering, do you have any hambones left ? or could I order them? thank you

Amy says …

How much does ham cost from wholefoods my grocery store

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@AMY - Our pricing and options differ between stores. Check with your local store directly, they will be happy to help!