Some types of ham can be unpleasantly salty as they are injected with brine or dry cured through a process in which the surface of the ham is salted and the ham is stored so that the salt penetrates it. To remove this excess salt, the ham needs to be soaked in water before it is cooked.
- Find out about the ham
Read the label on the ham so that you know if brine has been added, if it is dry cured and fully cooked, or if it is a country ham. Cooked hams, in general, do not need to be washed or soaked, unless you are especially sensitive to the salt content. Uncooked hams, like country hams, need to be soaked and rinsed. The number of hours you need to soak the ham depends on the size of the ham.
- Soak the ham
Country hams can be soaked in water or debrined for between six hours and three days. Ensure that the water temperature is about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so there is no possibility of bacterial growth. This is especially important if the ham is being soaked for a day or more. You can use a cooler for the water bath for the ham.
- Rinse the ham and change the water
If you're soaking the ham for more than a day, change out the water, and rinse the ham to remove excess salt from the surface. This process also rehydrates the ham and helps retain moisture. Cook the ham in the oven, in a smoker or on a grill.