The Store-Bought Ham Label You Should Avoid

Shopping for a store-bought ham isn't as easy as it seems, especially when there are numerous brands and flavor profiles for hams available at larger grocery stores. Reading food labels should be an important part of the buying process, though, no matter what's on your list. For ham, as you browse all of your options and look at the labels, you'll want to avoid any that say "water added" on the package.

Store-bought hams are mass-produced, which means they go through a very specific distribution process. Since most are sold by the pound, you don't want to spend a lot of money on a ham with lots of water injected into it. More so, hams with water added to them are often less likely to cook properly, leading to a mushy, less-than-desirable consistency. While all ham has some water in it naturally, that naturally occurring moisture content typically doesn't need to be adjusted with lots of added fluid. There are a few more things to know about buying ham or other meats with water added to them.

Skip the hams with water added to them

It's not uncommon for companies to enhance meat like ham with water-based solutions. Most of the time, this is done with the use of salt-water mixtures that add valuable moisture to the meat, especially if it is a leaner cut. Also notable, during the processing of meats, they often dry out, making adding water to the cut necessary to rehydrate it to the way it was prior.

Manufacturers need to note any absorbed or retained water added to meat during its processing. This allows consumers to compare products equally. Some products will be labeled as "no-retained water," which means that the meat hasn't had water added to it after it was processed. Does that mean the ham is likely to be dry? Not necessarily, especially if you cook it low and slow. It's also beneficial to choose this option when you want to enhance the flavor of the ham with your own spice and salt blend rather than what the producer adds. Ultimately, you want to be responsible for the flavor, texture, and moisture level of your ham dishes, which means skipping the packages with a "water added" label.