Ham Knives 101 – Features, Tips & Recommendations
Imagine biting into a piece of ham expecting it to be juicy, only for it to taste flat and dry. To avoid this culinary disaster, you need to use the best knife for carving ham, and then you need to use it properly.
A ham knife resembles a boning or filleting knife. It is long, slender, and slightly flexible. Here is everything you need to know about ham knives and how to use the best ham knife for the best results.
Qualities of a Good Ham Knife
A good ham knife should be flexible to allow it to cut as close to the bone as possible. However, it shouldn't be too flexible, as some types of ham are harder than others. The harder the ham is, the less flexible the knife should be.
Since you just need one ham knife at home, it makes more sense to have a knife that has medium flexibility and can cut through most hard and soft hams.
The Size of the Blade
A ham knife should be relatively long enough to cover the entire surface of the cut.
Most people prefer ham knives that are between 20 and 30cm long. The knife should also be slender enough to easily make thin slices. The width of a typical ham knife ranges between 10mm and 30mm. A knife wider than that wouldn't make the cut.
Smooth or Pitted Blade
The best ham knife is the one that effortlessly cuts through the ham without any meat sticking onto the blade. It can be quite frustrating to have to keep peeling off slices of ham from the knife every time you cut through the meat. One way to avoid this is to use a knife with a pitted blade.
Traditionally, ham knives had smooth blades, but now you have the option of smooth or pitted blades.
A pitted blade has hollow indentations just above the cutting edge and running along the entire blade. The F DICK 1905 Series Salmon/Ham Slicer Kullenschliff 32cm is an example of one. These hollow pits trap air in between the blade and the ham and prevent the ham from sticking to the blade as you cut. This way you save time and actually enjoy carving the ham.
The Tip of the Knife
A ham knife can either have a rounded tip or a pointed tip. It's mostly a matter of personal preference, though a rounded tip is considered safer as it won't prick into the ham and let all the tasty juices out. The knife mentioned above features a rounded tip, while the F Dick Premier Plus Ham Knife Flexible 28cm has a pointed tip.
The best knife for carving ham should have a comfortable and well-balanced handle to allow you to cut thin, even slices without getting tired quickly. It should be wide enough to fit in the hand and non-slip to so you have a firm grip, like the handle of the F Dick Premier Plus Ham Knife Flexible 28cm.
It features a strong water-resistant polypropylene handle. The handle is seamlessly attached to the blade to avoid having gaps that can trap small pieces of meat. This, plus the resistance of the handle to water guarantees hygiene as any trapped pieces of meat and dampness would attract potentially harmful germs.
How to Carve Ham
Ham is cut from the rear leg of a pig. There are different styles of ham, but we'll focus here on carving a whole ham. That's an entire cured rear leg of pork and includes the thigh bone. In order for you to really enjoy ham, you have to cut it so that you retain all its flavor, texture, and aroma. Not only do you need the best ham knife for this, but you also need the right technique. Also, it just feels good to be able to carve ham like a professional.
What You Need
- The best ham knife you can get.
- A ham holder - this is a kitchen instrument used to hold the ham in place so you can have your hands free while cutting the ham. The lower leg is secured firmly in the arm with the hoof raised up, while the thigh rests on a sturdy base.
- A carving fork.
- A sharpening steel to hone the knife before beginning to cut.
Carving the Ham
- Use the sharpening steel to make sure the knife is sharp.
- Use the carving fork to hold the part you'll be cutting. The hand with the carving fork should be behind and above the cutting hand.
- Always cut from the hoof downwards and in the opposite direction to the hand holding the ham.
- Avoid removing all the fat if you're not planning to use all the ham within 3 or 4 days. Remove the fat only from the area you are going to eat.
- Using the ham knife, cut the ham into thin slices, about 5cm long, along with a small amount of fat.
- When you get to the bone, cut the ham in cubes and not slices.
- Avoid bending down too close to the ham when cutting.
- Ham should have a firm and consistent texture when eaten, so when cutting it, make sure you cut along the fiber of the muscles.
- Make sure you cut slowly to allow the juice and aroma to seep out into each slice so that every slice you cut retains the taste of the part of the ham it came from.
- Lay the pieces of ham out on a warm plate to preserve all their flavor. Ensure they don't overlap as they may stick to one another.
- Don't forget about the leftover ham! Cover the exposed parts with excess fat, and cover everything with a dishcloth. This will prevent the entire ham from drying out and losing its flavor.
Compared to other cuts of meat, ham is one of the easiest meats to carve. With the best ham knife and your stellar carving, you can be sure of a great meal.
Why don't you take a look at our collection of best ham knives by clicking here!