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Synonym:  gammon = schinken

A ham is a pork cut that's taken from a hog's upper hind leg. There are three types of American hams: city hams, country hams, and fresh hams. City hams are the most common. They're soaked in brine (or injected with it) and then boiled or lightly smoked.  Many gourmets prefer country hams, which are dry-cured and then smoked and aged for added flavor. Fresh hams aren't cured at all and need to be cooked. 

America also imports several dry-cured hams from abroad, including prosciutto, Bayonne ham, Serrano ham, Black Forest ham, Westphalian ham, York ham, and Ardennes ham. These hams are similar to our country hams, except that they're often eaten raw while country hams are usually served cooked.  

Ham is relatively low in fat, but even low-salt hams are high in sodium.   

Substitutes:   Canadian bacon (usually leaner than ham) OR pork (A pork loin roast has less sodium than ham.) 


Ardennes ham    Notes:    This is an air-dried ham that's similar to prosciutto.  Substitutes:  prosciutto OR Bayonne ham OR Westphalian ham


Bayonne ham = jambon Bayonne   Notes:   This boneless French ham is similar to prosciutto.   Substitutes:  prosciutto OR York ham OR Ardennes ham OR Westphalian ham 

Black Forest ham   Notes:   This moist German ham is smoked over pine and fir, and coated with beef blood to give it a black exterior.  Substitutes:  Smithfield ham OR Westphalian ham OR prosciutto OR Virginia ham


boned ham  See city ham. 

boneless ham   See city ham

brine-cured ham  See city ham. 

butt end  See half ham. 

butt half  See half ham

canned ham  Notes:  These are boneless hams that are sealed in a can and then cooked.  They're not as flavorful as other kinds of ham, and they have a higher moisture content, which makes them more perishable.  Store the unopened can in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it, and use leftovers within a week.  Substitutes:  sliced ham OR Canadian bacon

capocolla = capicola = capacollo = capacola = capocollo = capacolla   Notes:  Italian in origin, this is a sometimes spicy dry-cured pork shoulder.  Substitutes: prosciutto OR bresaola

Chinese ham  Notes:   This category includes the well-regarded Yunnan ham = Xuanwei ham.   Chinese hams are dry-cured and resemble American country hams.   Substitutes:  Smithfield ham (very close substitute) OR fatty prosciutto OR Westphalian ham OR Ardennes ham OR Serrano ham OR Bayonne ham 

city ham = brine-cured ham = pumped ham = wet-cured ham   Notes:  This is America's most popular ham, the kind that's pink, moist, and sweet.  Fresh hams are soaked in brine (or injected with it) and then boiled or lightly smoked.  Boneless hams = boned hams are easier to carve, but they're not as flavorful or attractive as bone-in hams.  A good compromise is to buy a bone-in spiral-sliced ham, which combines good flavor and convenience, or a ham steak (pictured at right).  City hams usually come fully cooked (check the label), but most people reheat them before serving.  Substitutes:   picnic ham (This is cured like a ham, but cut from the hog's shoulder. It's not as tender and lean as a true ham and it cooks much quicker.)  OR country ham (saltier, but with a more complex flavor)


country ham = dry-cured ham   Notes:   These are made by rubbing salt over a fresh ham and then hanging it out to dry.  They're often smoked as well.  They tend to be salty, but gourmets often prefer them over city hams.  You cook them either by simmering them in water or frying them.  Some people soak them in water first to leech out some of the salt.  Mold often forms on country hams, but it's harmless and should simply be scrubbed off.   Country hams are common in the Southeast; elsewhere you can get them by mail order, or at Chinese markets.  Varieties include Virginia ham and Smithfield ham.   Substitutes:  prosciutto  

culatello  Pronunciation:  coo-lah-TELL-oh   Notes:   This expensive, dry-cured red ham hails from Parma.  It's usually sliced paper-thin and served like prosciutto.   It's hard to find in the United States.   Substitutes:  prosciutto (This isn't as lean or as well regarded as culatello.)

deviled ham  Notes:   This is a dip or sandwich spread made with chopped ham, sour cream, and various seasonings.


dry-cured ham  See country ham.


half ham   Notes:   Whole hams are too large for many families to handle, so manufacturers often cut them in half.  The butt half = butt end is higher up on the hog, and is meatier, fattier, easier to carve, and more expensive.  The shank half = shank end = hock half = hock end is leaner and, some say, sweeter.  

hock end  See half ham.

hock half  See half ham

jamon serrano



kassler rippchen  Notes:  German delis sometimes stock these pre-sliced smoked pork chops.  They're fully cooked.

lachsschinken   Pronunciation:  LAHK-shinken  Notes:  This dry-cured smoked pork loin is wrapped in a thin layer of fat. It hails from Bavaria.  Substitutes:  prosciutto

nuss schinken   Notes:  This German ham is cured, smoked, and dried.  Substitutes:  Westphalian ham

picnic ham = picnic shoulder = pork shoulder picnic ham  Notes:  This is cured like a ham, but cut from the hog's shoulder. It's not as tender and lean as a true ham, and it cooks much quicker.  It's a good, inexpensive choice if you want chopped ham for soups and casseroles.   Substitutes:  city ham OR Boston butt

prosciutto   Pronunciation:  pruh-SHOO-toh   Plural:  prosciutti  Notes:   Prosciutto hails from Italy and is reknown for its delicate, salty flavor.  It's usually cut into paper thin slices and served raw.  Especially well regarded is Parma ham, which comes from Parma in Italy.  Select a prosciutto that's shiny and deeply colored.  Substitutes:  culatello (better than prosciutto) OR Serrano ham OR Bayonne ham OR York ham OR Ardennes ham OR Westphalian ham (saltier) OR Smithfield ham OR Black Forest ham OR bresaola (stronger flavor) OR capicola OR other dried cured ham OR lean bacon (blanch it first in boiling water for a few minutes, then rinse and drain)

pumped ham  See city ham. 

schinkenspeck  Notes:  A German specialty, schinkenspeck is lean pork that's been dry-cured and aged.  It's normally sliced paper-thin and served cold.


Serrano ham = jamon serrano   Notes:   This Spanish dry-cured ham doesn't need to be cooked before eating.  It's not smoked, and it's usually cut into very thin slices.  Substitutes:   prosciutto OR Bayonne ham OR York ham OR Ardennes ham OR Westphalian ham (saltier) OR Smithfield ham OR Black Forest ham OR capicola OR other dried cured ham 

shank end  See half ham

shank half  See half ham

sliced ham  Notes:  Sliced ham is moister than other kinds of ham, which makes it far more perishable.  Store it in the refrigerator and use it within a few of days after buying it.  Substitutes:  other kinds of ham OR cold cuts

Smithfield ham    See country ham.

smoked ham hock   Notes:   These are sometimes thrown into Southern stews to lend a smoky flavor.  Substitutes:    cubed ham (substitute 1/4 pound ham per hock) OR smoked turkey drumsticks OR salt pork OR bacon


smoked hog jowl     Notes:   The jowl (which is pronounced "jole" in the South) is the hog's cheek.  It's often cut into pieces and used to flavor stews, collard greens, and bean dishes.  Substitutes:   bacon OR smoked ham hock

smoked pig's foot  Notes:  These are great for flavoring stews and soups.  

smoked pork neck bones =    Notes:  These are often used to flavor bean dishes.

spiral-sliced ham  See city ham.

tasso = tasso ham  Notes:   This is a heavily smoked ham with a spicy, peppery rind.  It's often used in Cajun dishes.    Substitutes:  smoked ham OR Canadian bacon

Virginia ham  See country ham.

Westphalian ham = Westfalischer Schinken   Notes:   This choice German ham is smoked over beechwood and juniper and has a salty, smoky flavor.  It's usually cut into very thin slices and eaten raw.  Substitutes:  Black Forest ham OR prosciutto (This is moister than Westphalian ham.) OR Smithfield ham OR Ardennes ham OR Bayonne ham

wet-cured ham  See city ham.  

York ham  Notes:  This is a lightly smoked, dry-cured British ham.  It's saltier but milder in flavor than other European dry-cured hams.   Substitutes:  Black Forest ham OR prosciutto (This is moister than Westphalian ham.) OR Smithfield ham OR Ardennes ham OR Bayonne ham

Copyright 1996 - 2005  Lori Alden