Picking The Right Easter Ham

Butcher Brad Duncan, from Dan’s Foods gives us a lesson in Hamology.


Picnic Ham
These were more popular years ago, and since have fallen out of favor with consumers. They come from the front part of the leg and aren’t as good. They are smaller, have more waste, and more bone in them. They were sometimes just used to make baked beans. They are a little harder to find now.

Bone-in Ham
These are the whole pork leg. They can also come in half leg portions. But watch out for what you’re getting. If your ham is labeled as a shank portion or butt portion, it means that the ham leg was cut in half, and normally the best part of the ham was cut out of the middle and sold as ham steaks. So if you get a half-ham, make sure it is labeled as such so that you’re getting the best part of the middle.

Spiral Cut Ham

These are bone-in hams that have been put on a spiral cutter and cut down to the bone. They are the easiest to cut and serve. There are also more flavor options with spiral cut hams. They are available as hickory smoked as well as brown sugar cured and honey cured.

Boneless Hams

These have had the leg bone removed and then were re-formed and wrapped to retain most of the shape of a ham. They are normally flatter and are easy to slice. They are smoked after the bone is removed so they often don’t have as much flavor as the bone-in hams.

Formed Boneless Hams

These are not hams in the true sense of the word. Portions of ham, as well as other cuts of the leg of the ham are ground up, and pressed into a mold to take on the shape that we purchase. They are normally less expensive and are of less quality. Most canned hams are “formed” hams.

Fresh Hams

People asking for a fresh ham are really asking for a fresh pork leg. All traditional hams have been smoked and cured and really only need to be heated up to be eaten. But fresh hams, or fresh pork legs, are simple raw meat and need to be cooked.


For more ideas on ham, including recipes for glazes and cooking tips, you can visit you closest Dan’s Foods, or any Associated Foods store. Butcher Brad works at the Dan’s Foods in the Olympus Cove area.

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