City vs. Country Ham

Use this buyer's guide to choose the right variety, and the right amount, of ham for your needs.

By Dawn Perry
Sliced hamCharles Masters

Ham (a.k.a. city ham): The most popular variety of this versatile meat. The majority of supermarket hams are wet-cured, or injected with a brine made of salt, sugar, seasonings, and curing agents, lending the meat a mild, juicy flavor. (Many producers also smoke their hams for additional depth.) Bone-in city hams tend to be moister and more flavorful than the boneless variety. Both types usually come ready to eat, although they benefit from oven warming. Note: City ham should not be confused with fresh ham, which is a raw hind leg of pork sold at butcher shops and specialty meat markets.

Country ham: A southern favorite, these hams are dry-cured, meaning they’re rubbed with salt and seasonings, smoked, then aged anywhere from 4 months to 3 years. Salty and chewy, the intensely flavored meat is usually served with biscuits or incorporated into casseroles and salads. It’s sold both uncooked and cooked, and mostly bone-in.

How Much Should I Buy?

Type of ham: Bone-in city ham
As an hors d’oeuvre: 3 ounces per person
As a main course: 8 to 10 ounces per person

Type of ham: Boneless city ham
As an hors d’oeuvre: 2 ounces per person
As a main course: 6 to 8 ounces per person

Type of ham: Bone-in country ham
As an hors d’oeuvre: 3 ounces per person
As a main course: 3 to 4 ounces per person*

*Generally, since country ham is so salty, it is served in smaller portions than city ham.

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