Food - Drink
Cured Vs. Uncured Ham: What's The Difference?
Ham is the most popular cold cut in America, according to survey data from Statista, but many consumers don't know that there are countless varieties of ham with different flavors and manufacturing processes. Here's what your local deli is really offering you when you're trying to choose between cured and uncured ham.
Curing is the practice of preserving meat through the addition of salt and nitrates, which also change the meat's color and flavor. Despite its name, "uncured" ham does undergo a curing process, but instead of using synthetic nitrates, this ham bathes in a brine made of naturally nitrate-rich produce, such as celery or beets.
Standard "cured" hams often use synthetic sodium nitrite, which gives them a longer shelf life but a slightly more "flat" flavor compared to uncured hams. Both synthetic and natural nitrates can convert into a carcinogenic chemical called nitrosamine, so it's best to limit your intake of processed meats, whether cured or "uncured."