Salt is used as a preservative for ham and is used particularly generously in country ham. The salt draws out the moisture in the meat so harmful microorganisms can't reproduce and cause it to spoil. Unfortunately, this leads to a saltiness that can overpower the ham flavor. If your doctor has ordered a salt-restricted diet, ham might be off the menu unless you draw the salt out of the ham slices. While it's impossible to completely remove the salt from ham slices, you can remove much of it, and counteract the salt with the acidity of fruit juice.
Place the ham slices in a bowl or pan, preferably in a dish large enough to lay them in a single layer.
Cover the ham completely with cool water. Keep the dish in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours while the water draws the salt out of the ham.
Replace the salty water with fresh water every few hours so the ham isn't soaking in saltwater. Drain the water at the end of the soaking period and rinse each ham slice thoroughly.
Cook ham slices in a skillet with filled about 1/4 inch high with lemon-lime soda or apple juice. The sweetness of these beverages counteracts the saltiness of the ham. If the ham doesn't taste overly salty after the water soak, there's no need to perform this step.
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- Try adding other spices to the ham slices to help hide any remaining salty taste. Black pepper is the classic pairing with salt, or you can sweeten the ham with brown sugar or honey.
- Not all salt-cured hams are already cooked when you buy them. Read the label carefully to determine whether you must cook the ham slices first before eating or if you can eat them immediately after removing the salt.
A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.