Top 10 Tips for the Perfect Christmas Ham

It’s typically the Christmas centrepiece on family tables all around the country, so what better way to kick off the festive season than with these top tips for the perfect Christmas ham.

From carving and decorating through to leftover recipes and storage, the following tips from KR Castlemaine and the Country Women's Assoication include everything you need to know to get the most out of your ham this Christmas.

1. Removing Rind and Scoring Your Ham

Nothing looks better than a well-presented ham. To improve the appearance of your ham score it!

 Step 1: Cut a zigzag pattern around the shank to trim away excess fat.
 Step 2: Run a knife under the rind and lift it off in one piece (leave approximately a quarter inch layer of fat).
 Step 3: Use a sharp knife to cut diamond squares into the ham.

The leftover rind can be used to cover the exposed ham and will keep it moist during storage.

2. Decorating Your Ham

Decorating your ham will help turn it into a visual as well as a gastronomic feast.

 Step 1: Remove the rind as per step one above.
 Step 2: Score the fat in a diamond pattern – see tip number 1.
 Step 3: Using a skewer, punch a hole in the centre of each diamond and insert a clove.


3. Adding a Glaze

To enhance the flavour of your ham, glaze the rind.

From honey and mustard, to lime or rum and ginger, glazes can be made to suit your taste, whatever it may be.

To glaze your ham, place your decorated ham on a wire rack in a large baking dish. Brush the surface of the ham with your glaze of choice. Bake as appropriate refer to instructions on packaging and brush the ham frequently with glaze during cooking.

Other glaze flavours to keep in mind include: orange, apricot, cranberry, honey and mustard, marmalade or mandarin.

Tips on preparing the perfect glaze can be found in any of the cookbooks available from the Country Women’s Association.

4. When Do I Glaze?

You have the option of glazing your ham and serving it either hot or cold. When serving it cold, you don’t have to glaze your ham while it is cooking. You can glaze it a day or two before you eat it, store it in the fridge and serve it cold.

5. Correct Carving Technique

Get the most out of your Christmas ham by using the correct carving technique.

 Step 1: Trim off 2 or 3 slices, parallel to its length, from the thin side of the ham. Rest the ham on the flat side created from trimming off the slices.
 Step 2: Hold firmly with a carving fork and starting at the shank end, cut slices across the ham, down to the bone.
 Step 3: After cutting the slices, cut parallel along the bone to release them.

6. Waste Not Want Not

Christmas leftovers need not be wasted! There are many great recipe ideas that will help you transform them into something special. Try KR Castlemaine’s Frittata or Pasta Salad as a starting point to getting the most out of your ham.

Ham can also be used in casseroles, soups, pies, salads, pizzas and of course sandwiches! See any of the cookbooks available from the Country Women’s Association for ideas on how to make delicious meals for all the family to enjoy.

7. How to Store Your Ham

Many myths abound around how to correctly store your ham. The truth is the easiest way to correctly store your Christmas ham once it has been opened is to use an old pillow-case that has been rinsed in water and wrung out tightly. If you alternate this pillow-case with another one every couple of days your ham will keep well in the fridge.

8. How Long Will My Ham Keep For?

This depends upon how your ham is initially stored. If you freeze your ham it will keep for approximately two months.
After opening, ham will keep for between 12 to 16 days if stored correctly (see point 7 above) in the fridge.

9. Can I Re-Freeze A Thawed Ham?

Yes you can, provided your ham has been cooked. If this is the case, wrap your ham in cling-wrap and store in the freezer. Never, however, re-freeze a thawed ham that has not been cooked.

10. What Do I Do With the Bone?

Avoid the temptation and don’t throw this out – store it in the fridge and use it as a base for a great stock in a ham and pea, or ham and corn soup!

Thanks to the KR Castlemaine Premium Ham on the Bone and these tips, treating the family to a traditional Australia Christmas dinner this festive season is easy.

Christmas Ham recipes

Frittata with ham cooked on the bone
Slow cooked leg ham and apple with cherry relish
Gingered ham cooked on the bone with duck fat cooked potatoes

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