Is Smoked Ham Healthy?

Is smoked ham healthy

No, smoked ham is not healthy. In 2015, processed meats, including ham, were classified by the WHO (World Health Organization) as a class 1 carcinogen. This means that the consumption of this food can potentially increase the risk of you developing cancer.

This is due in part to the high quantities of salt and sugar contained within a smoked ham. These come from the brining process and the glaze that is applied near the end of the smoking process.

According to the USDA, a slice of smoked ham has around 210 milligrams of sodium, about ⅛ of your total daily sodium intake. 

Several parasites can potentially be found within ham, such as trichinellosis, toxoplasmosis, and roundworms. The likelihood of finding these is greatly reduced due to stringent health legislation, however, there is still a risk. 

Do you wrap a ham in foil to smoke?

You should not wrap ham in foil when smoking because it will prevent the smoke from reaching the ham and adding a smoky flavor. Additionally, wrapping your ham will keep any glazes or toppings from forming a crispy crust.

The foil will trap the heat inside the parcel, meaning that the cooking time will be reduced. This will also help to trap moisture, making for a more succulent ham. 

If you are going to wrap your ham in foil, you should not do this until about halfway through the cooking process.

The internal temperature of the ham should have reached between 150 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit. We recommend glazing the surface of the meat before wrapping it. 

How do you smoke a bone-in ham shank?

There are 2 different types of ham shank - a raw (or green) ham, and a cured (pre-cooked) ham. The only difference to the smoking process is the length of time it takes. Raw ham will need to be cured before smoking, whereas cured ham can go straight in. 

For a raw ham, your first step is to cure it. This involves making a brine and allowing the ham to cure in this liquid for 7 days in the refrigerator.

The curing time will vary according to the weight of the ham shank - you should leave it for about one day per pound. The salty flavors from the brine will seep into the meat and enhance the natural flavor profile. 

Once the brining process is complete, rinse off the brine and blot with paper towels. 

Lay the ham shank on the countertop with the skin side up. You will need to score diagonally through the skin of the ham, going in opposite directions. When you have finished, the skin should be scored into small diamond shapes. 

Place the wood chips you are using into the water and allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes. Warm your smoker to about 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the ham shank to your smoker and estimate a rough cooking time. Generally speaking, it will take about 20 minutes per pound of meat. Add a cup of your wood chips at 45-minute intervals throughout the cooking process to impart the smoky, woody flavors. 

Monitor the internal temperature of the ham shank. It should be smoked until a meat thermometer reads between 130 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Once this temperature has been reached, coat the exterior of your ham shank with a brown sugar glaze. Repeat again 30 minutes later. 

Continue to monitor the internal meat temperature until it hits 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Once this has happened, take the ham out of the smoker and wrap it in aluminum foil. Allow it to rest until you are ready to eat it. 

Check out our article 4 Killer Smoker Ham Recipes

What is the best wood for smoking ham?

This comes down to a matter of personal choice. There are many kinds of wood that are very well suited to smoking meats, and all will impart a slightly different flavor to the meat. Some people will choose to combine one or more wood types to give a unique flavor profile. 

Hickory is one of the most popular wood choices for smoking hams. Some people have even dubbed it the King of smoking woods. It will give your ham a sweet, strong, and intense meaty flavor. 

Applewood is a very mild and sweet wood, giving these qualities to your ham. It will also impart a mild fruity flavor. This is said to enrich the flavors within the meat and is a great option to use with any pork joint.

The real downside to using apple wood for smoking is that the flavors take a lot longer to work their way into the meat. This means that you will need to smoke your ham for a lot longer, and you will need to monitor the temperature much more closely. 

Pecan wood will give your ham a nutty and rich flavor profile. It is relatively subtle and works well in conjunction with other woods.

It will allow your ham to smoke slowly and encourages the flavors to permeate the meat all the way through. You will get a robust and sharp taste from smoking over pecan wood. 

Cherry wood turns your ham a deep red color. It gives a gentle and sweet smell to the meat and imparts a unique flavor. If you are feeling like trying something new, this is the wood we recommend. 

Maple wood will give your ham a sweet and fruity undertone. It is a mild flavor and the wood will turn the color of your ham slightly darker. Maple is commonly chosen to smoke pork meats as it provides a sweetness that is not overpowering. 

Oak imparts a strong flavor that will not overpower the taste of the meat itself. It is a very versatile wood and will not spoil your ham. It is easy to combine with other woods and will always produce a great tasting result.

Oak gives the meat a medium level of smokiness, although this will vary according to the type of oak wood you opt for. We recommend using red oak instead of white oak as it gives a distinct but subtle flavor. 

check out our article How to Smoke a Ham in a Electric Smoker: A Beginner’s Guide.