How to Defrost a Bone-In Ham

Ham can be a delicious dinner for special occasions, and many people opt for the bone-in taste and appearance. Defrosting any frozen meat can take time, and requires guesswork as to how much time you'll need. When defrosting any meat it is important to remember that it takes about an hour for every 2 pounds to defrost completely.

Things You'll Need

  • Large pan or bowl
  • Dish Towel
  • Scissors

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Run cool water over the wrapping of the bone-in ham before defrosting. This will help to loosen the wrappings on the outside and allow air to flow more freely to all sides.

Cut the wrappings on one end, close to the upper end of the ham, to allow air in.

Place the bone-in ham in the pan or bowl. It's a good idea to cover the ham with the dish towel to keep the moisture from the defrosting process from over-filling the pan.

Place the cutting board with the ham and dish towel into the refrigerator. Make sure to note the weight of the ham, and check the clock, remembering that for every two pounds, you'll need about an hour of defrosting time.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never defrost any meat in a sink full of water, cold or hot. This allows bacteria to grow rampant, and warm or hot water will partially cook the ham while it sits. Microwaving to defrost does the same thing; it will simply cook the ham on the outside and will leave the inside icy and raw.
  • Defrosting meat is not a guarantee that bacteria will not be present. It is recommended that ham be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit in order to kill all bacteria or fungus. Insert a meat thermometer during cooking into the largest thickest area of the ham.


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