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The Proper Methods to Defrost a Frozen Ham

Christmas is almost here, so I thought this would a great time to share some wisdom regarding one of the Ozarks’ favorite traditional main dishes. Ham and turkey are the most popular main courses for Christmas dinner around here. My family prefers ham for Christmas because we usually have turkey on Thanksgiving.

This year’s ham comes from a hog raised on an Ozark Mountain farm. I split the purchase of the hog with my boss last winter. It was raised and processed right here in Missouri. While my family and I have eaten most of the sausage and a great deal of the bacon, I still have two large hams. I’m cooking one for my office party on Wednesday.

Defrosting ham is similar to defrosting a turkey. It takes time and patience. The best way to defrost a frozen ham is in the refrigerator. This method is the simplest as well as the safest. You must allow 4 to 6 hours of defrosting time per pound of ham. My ham weighs 12 pounds, so it will take 48 to 72 hours to defrost in the refrigerator.

If you use the refrigerator method, be sure to keep your ham in its original package and put the whole thing in a shallow pan to catch any juice that escapes the packaging. You don’t want ham juice all over your apples or butter.

The next best way to defrost a ham is to put it in a large zip-lock bag and fully submerge it in cold water. This method is much faster than the refrigerator method, but you must change the water every 30 minutes to keep harmful bacteria from growing. Using the cold water method, your ham should defrost at a rate of a pound every 30 minutes. So, every time you change the water, another pound is defrosted. Using this method, my ham would be defrosted in 6 hours.

There is a third way, but I don’t recommend it. It is possible to defrost a ham in the microwave, but you run the risk of the outside cooking while the middle is still defrosting. If you don’t have time to use either the refrigerator method or the cold water method, you can remove your ham from its package, place it in a glass dish, and defrost it according to your microwave’s instructions. See your owner’s manual or search online for instructions regarding your particular microwave. Cook immediately after defrosting in the microwave.

Due to the fact that bacteria loves pork, you should never defrost a ham on the counter or in warm water. My ham is currently nestled safely in my refrigerator. It should be fully defrosted and ready for the oven by Wednesday morning.

Most people don’t cook large hunks of meat on a regular basis. Cooking a ham is a lot different than frying a pound of bacon. However, if you allow yourself enough time and make sure you know what you’re doing, you can produce a delicious main course that will have your family and friends raving about your cooking prowess.

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