Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ham Basics - Costing, Types, Spiral Sliced vs Unsliced, Etc.

I don’t know how to cost ham. It’s got that big bone in it, or bones if it’s the butt half, and I don’t know how much meat you end up with. So here’s a warning for you all – these costs are just plain guesses. According to various websites, a cup of cooked ham weighs about 135 – 140 grams, or about 4.85 ounces. And one site said that about 75% of the weight of a ham (with bone and skin) is meat. So, based on these numbers, it would take about 6.5 ounces of ham+bone+meat+fat+skin to equal one cup of cooked ham. Here’s a quick conversion chart, using this very inexact formula:

            At 99 cents a pound, 1 cup costs about 40 cents
            At $1.09 a pound, 1 cup costs about 44 cents   
At $1.19 a pound, 1 cup costs about 48 cents
            At $1.29 a pound, 1 cup costs about 52 cents
            At $1.39 a pound, 1 cup costs about 56 cents
            At $1.49 a pound, 1 cup costs about 61 cents

Another factor is how much water has been added to the ham. If it just says “ham” (that’s the labeling, not the ad in the flier), there’s been no water added. “Ham with natural juices” may have about 7% - 8% added water, though one site said they probably didn’t add any water. “Ham, water added” may be up to 10% added water. A “ham and water product” may have any amount of water added. At, where I got this information, they said that one brand had 23% of added liquid! While I didn’t see anything that told me if a cup of a “ham and water product” weighed more or less than a cup of, say, “ham with natural juices,” the one with the least added water is likely to have a stronger ham taste, which is important when you’re talking about leftovers, which is mostly what I’m going to be doing.

Bottom line – I’m going to figure that a cup of ham costs 60 cents. I’m just not convinced that you get almost two and a half cups of ham from a pound of ham+bone+fat+skin. I’d rather figure high than low.

A spiral sliced ham is great for serving the first time around, when you’re serving ham slices. And it’s good for sandwiches, too. Unfortunately, it’s not so good for making other things with the leftovers, because it’s sliced so thinly. Should that make or break your decision to buy a spiral sliced ham? Not necessarily, though you might want to consider how you’ll be eating it. If you expect it all to vanish at your ham dinner, except for some leftovers that get put into sandwiches, then the extra 10 or 20 cents a pound may be worth it. For a ten pound ham that’s an extra dollar or two. On the other hand, if you’re buying a great big ham so you’ll have lots of leftovers to put in soups and casseroles over the next few months, you might be better off getting an unsliced ham so you can cut the leftovers up into chunks. You might also want to consider what a “serving” will be from a spiral sliced ham vs. a ham that you slice yourself. The pre-sliced slices will probably be a lot thinner than the ones you cut yourself, but they may be bigger around. If you end up giving two or three thin slices of ham instead of one thicker slice that weighs less, the thin slices cost more per serving. If, on the other hand, a serving is one slice, regardless of how thick it is, then the thin slices will cost less per serving. But, to be honest, I doubt that I’d be considering things like that. I’d probably figure that the holiday ham costs what it costs when it comes to the ham dinner itself, and just concern myself with the price per cup for leftovers. 

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