if a ham is too salty how do you reduce that saltyness?

  • Posted by: whyo4
  • April 22, 2011


Derghi A. March 26, 2019
Jesus, these really are some of the worst answers in this thread.. I value every opinion but USE LESS OF IT? Or NEUTRALIZE IT? (a salt i.e. soluble ions are not an acid or base, so there is no way to "neutralize" the salt)

Nevertheless, here is a good advice you can use:
Buy distilled water. Wash the salty meat under normal cold water and then put in distilled water. Rinse after a few hours, taste the meat a little and repeat if necessary. You can even cook it a little, that will really take the salt out, along with some other components of meat. After cooking or rinsing you can pat the meat dry with a clean napkin or two and then put the meat to rest in a fridge, to dry a little. When the expected level of dryness is reached, put it in a container or a plastic bag and keep it in the fridge all the time until eaten.

Do not remove all the salt from the meat because it will spoil more quickly. A cooked meat will keep for more than 3 days in a coldest place of the fridge, especially if it still has a considerable amount of salt in it. You can prolong this time by spraying a little acid onto the surface of meat, for example ascorbic acid. Use a little of food-grade vitamin C - ascorbic acid powder and dissolve it in a little of distilled water. The taste of water should be sour but NOT unpleasantly sour, if it is, just dilute it with 1/2 the amount of the water and taste it again. Apply to the meat surface by spraying, let it dry in the fridge. Or pat dry after some time.
mbaucco November 24, 2018
I suffer from high blood pressure so sodium is a big issue for me. I also love food, so I'm always looking for ways to reduce or remove salt from my favorite foods*.

Anyway, Jacques Pepin says that one way to remove "most" of the salt (I haven't found any hard data on how much salt leaching and cooking removes) is to fill a large pot with cold water, submerge the ham in it, then cook it for two or three hours at 170 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

I bought a ham that had no weird chemicals in it and tried this method and I can say it is definitely less salty but still tastes great. I suppose if you wanted to be very sure, try the cold water leaching method followed by the "Pepin method". :)

* Things like this make me wish I were a chemist so I could test salt values before and after each method.
juls June 21, 2018
I too have hams that are too salty. You can try sugar water, fruit juice or cola. let them soak in it for a couple of hours. When I have one like this I use it in a pot of beans. Do not add salt to the pot which works, my family loves a good pot of navy beans. Reading Ghostfox's reply I agree that it is difficult trying to feed a family on a budget so I would suggest that you use the ham in a casserole. Budget friendly suggestions would be Jiffy brand corn casserole or tater tot casserole. Since hams are expensive buy smaller ones that you can eat without freezing as that tends to bring the salt levels up. Good luck.
Mary March 23, 2018
I found this on the Livestrong website: https://www.livestrong.com/article/546760-how-to-cook-salted-pork-belly/
Step 1
Rinse fresh cured meat, such as ham, or meat that was soaked in a salt brine solution under cold running water before cooking. A thorough rinsing removes excess salt on the surface of the meat. Pat the meat dry with paper towels before cooking the meat.

Step 2
Soak cured or naturally salty meat in a large pot of cold water to help remove excess salt if you plan to cook the meat in your oven or on your grill. The time it takes to neutralize the salt by removal depends on the weight and degree of saltiness. Soak smaller or less salty cuts for 6 to 12 hours and large or very salty cuts for up to 72 hours. Drain and replace the soaking water every 4 to 6 hours regardless of how long you soak the meat.
I'm going to try buying a spiral ham and soaking it overnight in a contractor cooler (they sometimes sell them at Home Depot). These are large, round, tall coolers that will fit a 12 lb turkey easily. So I'll put the ham in the cooler with cold water and ice and change the water every six hours or so for 24 hours. I'm hoping to get some sodium reduction this way....
ralph C. December 7, 2017
All it takes is using a search engine and some imagination, if you are truly curious and consider it important. To try your humble best to actually remove some sodium try leaching the meat. Cut it, if you dare, into small pieces and submerge it in plain water for an hour. Drain the liquid and repeat the process at least two more times. The longer you soak, the better the process works and same for making the pieces smaller (increases effectiveness by increasing surface area). Here are some interesting and aggressive suggestions from other sources that are all about leaching https://www.livestrong.com/article/516280-; how-to-neutralize-salty-meat/ No reason suggestions about similar meats will not work on all of them https://www.leaf.tv/articles/how-to-remove-salt-from-corned-beef/ I could not find them right now but there are papers on leaching from the Kidney Foundation and the American Heart Association. It can also be done with canned food like vegetables and tuna fish if you cannot or do not buy the reduced sodium kind
Arthur G. April 19, 2017
For those of us on restricted salt intake and are in the mood to "cheat" a little, I would suggest boiling the portion you would like to eat for a snack or a meal. This lowers the salt content by 2/3. Still not super healthy, but will lower the mortality rate significantly. I would not attempt to do the full ham all at once. To reduce the maximum amount of salt, do it one portion at a time. It will be very noticeably less salty and less fatty. (Two birds with one stone!)
Sun T. April 3, 2018
I agree with "Arthur Generations". Boiling small individual portions of ham in water is definitely the way to go. I need to restrict my sodium intake, so masking my ham's salt content is not a healthy choice for me. This year's Easter ham was the saltiest that I have ever experienced. Today, I made a sandwich with some of the leftovers. I boiled the amount I needed, and was well pleased with the results. The salt content was significantly reduced. The overwhelming taste of salt was gone. The flavor of the ham was delicious!
Leslie April 8, 2017
This is the worst group of answers to a question I have ever seen!!! Use less ham? Use less salty side dishes? Add milk products? Make a glaze? Okay...for those of you that like these ridiculous answers, please excuse yourselves. I am a cook. Trained. I wanted to know how others handled the fact that the ham I bought was absolutely inedible because of the saltiness. I thought maybe soaking the ham in milk or water or a no sodium broth might help. When I found this website, I was amazed at the lack of practicality. The woman who needed to feed her family for a week on the ham she bought didn't need to read about a glaze for Pete's sake! Please list practical solutions instead of promoting your recipes.
mybestday December 25, 2017
I agree with you completely. I did find some answers. How to get salt out of store-bought hams? Use light colored sodas like sprite or 7-up. You can also use milk. The sugar counteracts the salt. Pour over the ham and let stand in the frig for a couples hours, depending on the size. Rinse well. I have not tried this yet. I will tomorrow.
Joycelyn H. April 11, 2019
I've cooked spiral jams for years..and have used ginger ale to counteract some of the saltiness. Pour a can of ginger ale or Sprite if you prefer in the bottom of the roasting pan..place ham face down...cover tightly with foil....follow directions on how long to cook. Glaze if you like...it works every time!! Reduces the salt immensely. Ham should have SOME taste of salt...but not be briney. Enjoy!!
Michele March 15, 2017
If the ham was for soup I would suggest using less ham in the soup or increasing your stock (unsalted) to dilute it. I have made soups with ham that were too salty and just kept adding liquid to dilute and have had success with that. Also, I would soak the ham in cold water for some hours and then throw it out. If you boil it you will make it dryer and tougher. You could try making it with some pasta, peas and a little white sauce, or dollop of sour cream, and if you serve it as the meat i would add some currant / cranberry jelly to add some moisture and an additional flavor. Quiche, frittata and scrambled eggs into tortillas are also good and tasty ways to enjoy it in smaller portions. And if all else fails cut it into smaller chunks and freeze them to pull out and add to soups. And please ignore the the less than helpful comments - this is a great community and you will get good advice here.....just sometimes the gremlins visit.
max J. November 28, 2015
"if the days of the way-too-salty ham are over, then why are they still being sold in stores? they are only consumed by those who cannot afford better, and want something special for their holiday table. oh... ya, right.... far too many of us are improverished.

surround it with less salty ingredients, some say? of course, we do. but it does not help the overbearing saltiness of the blessed ham (or turkey, chicken, etc)
so perhaps some of you need to get off your soapboxes and look at the problems of real people, trying to feed real families, as heathily as possible. (the poor need help getting healthy food, too)

i am certain that pork and poultry producers might say differently" Ghostfox rather an inconsequential and unnecessary rant.
As a British Corbinister waste is the greater evil, so anyone that helps to salvage food is fine in my book.
We have a regional bacon over here that is a Welsh cure, very salty and fatty. I cannot stand it , the Welsh love it.
By the way my wife and I amongst other things donate our time over christmas to cooking in homeless shelters, my kid bother does the same in a Psychiatric hospital, and you?
Arrenn March 14, 2017
Oh, wow. I came here because I bought a bone-in ham to make soup and it is much too salty to eat, and would ruin the soup. I completely understand where ghostfox is coming from. The ham was half price so I was able to come up with a $40 grocery bill to feed my family for a week with hot ham dinner, ham sandwiches, ham omelettes, and split pea soup. Having a salty ham is not just an inconvenience for me. That's my grocery money for the week. Last night when I could not serve the ham for dinner I made the kids fried eggs instead. Then I soaked the ham overnight and now I am looking for rescues that don't involve masking the salt with sugar, which just compounds the nutritional problems. Some say soak in cold water, some say boil, some have said add vinegar, some say add milk ... I was looking for an answer. But clearly I am looking in the wrong place.

Congratulations Max on your work in homeless shelters. The poor are not just poor at Christmas, we eat all year round. And the working poor aren't looking for your charity at shelters. We are working things out as best we can every day battling a food industry that is designed to addict our kids to salt and sugar.
mcd2 April 23, 2011
if you have leftover ham that's too salty, milk, cheese or milk products (sour cream, cottage cheese etc) will counteract the saltiness. also potato is a good addition to a dish that's been over salted (soups, stew etc). Or combine both & make scalloped potatoes & ham.
betteirene April 23, 2011
By "ham," I will assume you mean one of those red-brown shanks or butts on a bone, not pieces of pink pork that are pressed together and cured in an airtight oval container.

You can de-brine a ham by soaking it in water, sugar water, Coca Cola, apple juice or any other liquid that isn't salty. The most difficult part is finding a container deep enough to hold the entire ham underwater; if you don't own a deep stock pot, use a Dutch oven or a kitchen sink (which is scrupulously clean, of course) and turn the ham every half hour or so.

Two to four hours in tepid water is usually enough time to draw out enough salt to make it more palatable to you. Longer than four hours is okay, but I'd probably put it in the refrigerator then.

De-salinating doesn't affect the taste or texture of the ham--it just leeches out some of the salt. To give a bigger impression of less salt, pour something sweet over the ham, such as the sauce suggested by Sam1148.

(I don't glaze my hams because I can't stand the taste of cloves or brown sugar in bean or split pea soup made from the leftover ham. I make a glaze or sauce and serve it in a gravy boat on the side.)
Sam1148 April 22, 2011
Make a glaze. My basic one for sliced ham fried in a pan is a table spoon of Honey, a touch of allspice, 1/8 tsp of cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp cloves (ground in a mortar or smashed in wax paper with a rolling pin). A shot of orange juice or pineapple juice. Cook the ham until starting to brown....add the juice to deglaze..add the spices. Return the ham to the pan and reduce.

You could also chop it and use it in a fried rice, with onions, bell peppers, a bit of hoisin sauce, and cubed pineapples.
usuba D. April 22, 2011
One of the reasons so many pumped (made with water) hams are soooo sweet, is to hide the saltiness and sodium phosphate (which gives you a soapy taste). I find it very hard to find a properly made ham anymore. I am guessing you probably have a pumped ham, so there is not much that can be done but yell very loudly at the manufacture of the ham. If they reduce the salt and sweetness, you would get a ham that tastes so much better. The days of high amounts of salt used in processed meats is over!
Frontalgirl April 22, 2011
What type of ham is it? Here in the South, we have access to lovely country ham which is very salty. It's soaked in water for about 2 days, then baked. We then slice it very, very thinly to serve. Ham will be salty generally, because that's what makes it ham;)
Kristen M. April 22, 2011
The easiest thing would be to just use less of it, surrounded by less salty ingredients. Slice it thinly in a sandwich with lots of fresh vegetables, like avocados, lettuce, tomatoes. Or chop it into small chunks in an under-salted quiche or omelette.
ghostfox November 27, 2015
if the days of the way-too-salty ham are over, then why are they still being sold in stores? they are only consumed by those who cannot afford better, and want something special for their holiday table. oh... ya, right.... far too many of us are improverished.

surround it with less salty ingredients, some say? of course, we do. but it does not help the overbearing saltiness of the blessed ham (or turkey, chicken, etc)
so perhaps some of you need to get off your soapboxes and look at the problems of real people, trying to feed real families, as heathily as possible. (the poor need help getting healthy food, too)

i am certain that pork and poultry producers might say differently
Artemestz January 11, 2019
Thank you for this suggestion! I had drippings from my ham (made with an apricot-cherry-dijon glaze) that were flavorful, but too salty. After reading your post, I thought of the foods that I tend to heavily salt - corn & potatoes, then found this recipe for Corn & Potato Chowder: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/quick-potato-corn-chowder - I made ham stock instead of using chicken broth, omitted the salt, added chunks of ham and my drippings "to taste" for some extra flavor. So happy with how it turned out!
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