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Best supermarket ham

By Christina Woodger

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Discover the best premium supermarket sliced ham available by reading the results of our latest taste tests.

Our panel of experts tasted 10 premium supermarket sliced hams for our September 2018 issue of Which? magazine.

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Best hams 

Only logged in Which? members can view the rest of our results and tasting notes in the table below.

If you're not yet a member, you'll see an alphabetically ordered list of the best ham on test. To get instant access join Which?

Aldi Specially Selected Wiltshire Cured Ham, plain cooked
 Aldi Specially Selected Wiltshire Cured Ham, plain cooked LO table Price and pack size Price per 100g Tasting notes Overall score
£1.59/120g £1.33/100g Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

Aldi's own-brand outdoor-bred ham is described by the supermarket chain as 'delicious', with a 'wonderfully distinctive flavour'. We put it in front of our tasting panel to see if our experts agreed.

To see how we scored this supermarket ham, join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Asda Extra Special Slow Cured Wiltshire Ham Slices
 Asda Extra Special Slow Cured Wiltshire Ham Slices LO table Price and pack size Price per 100g Tasting notes Overall score
£2/130g £1.54/100g Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

If Asda is your supermarket of choice, you might be wondering how tasty its slow cured Wiltshire ham is. Asda promises 'rich, full flavour', but is that really the case?

Find out how we scored this ham in our taste test. For the details, join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Co-op Irresistible Wiltshire Cured Ham
 Co-op Irresistible Wiltshere Cured Ham LO table Price and pack size Price per 100g Tasting notes Overall score
£3.15/120g £2.66/100g Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

Made from British pork, Co-op's Wiltshire ham is one of the pricier options on our list. Higher prices don't guarantee a better taste, though, as our tests have proved in the past.

To see how this supermarket ham scores compared with its rivals, join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Iceland Luxury Slices Breaded Wiltshire Ham
 Iceland Luxury Slices Breaded Wiltshire Ham LO table Price and pack size Price per 100g Tasting notes Overall score
£1.79/100g £1.79/100g Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

We blind tasted this pack of Iceland's luxury ham, paying close attention to taste, appearance, texture and aroma.

For the thoughts of our expert tasting panel, join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Lidl Deluxe Wiltshire Cured Ham
 Lidl Deluxe Wiltshire Cured Ham LO table Price and pack size Price per 100g Tasting notes Overall score
£1.59/120g £1.33/100g Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

In our quest to find the tastiest supermarket ham money can buy, we've tried Lidl's Deluxe Wiltshire Cured Ham.

Is this affordable ham a real treat for the tastebuds? For more details, join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Marks & Spencer British Wiltshire Roast Ham
 Marks & Spencer British Wiltshire Roast Ham LO table Price and pack size Price per 100g Tasting notes Overall score
£3.50/110g £3.18/100g Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

This ham from Marks & Spencer has a 'rustic appearance' and 'meaty' aroma, but does that equal a delicious taste?

Find out what our tasting panel made of this ham. Simply join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Morrisons The Best Cooked Wiltshire Ham
 Morrisons The Best Cooked Wiltshire Ham LO table Price and pack size Price per 100g Tasting notes Overall score
£2.35/100g £2.35/100g Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

Prepared using the traditional Wiltshire curing method, this packet of ham is exclusive to Morrisons. Did it impress enough to finish at the top of our results table?

To read our tasting notes, join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Wiltshire cured ham slices
 Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Wiltshire cured ham slices LO table Price and pack size Price per 100g Tasting notes Overall score
£2.50/120g £2.08/100g Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

The Sainsbury's website recommends using this ham inside a ham and pickle sandwich, on thick bread with 'lashings of Piccalilli'.

How did our tasting panel rate this ham? Find out today and join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Tesco Finest Wiltshire Finely Sliced Ham
 Tesco Finest Wiltshire Finely Sliced Ham LO table Price and pack size Price per 100g Tasting notes Overall score
£3/125g £2.40/100g Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

Tesco claims its sliced ham is 'steeped in aged brine and hung on the bone to carefully mature' in order to improve the flavour. 

To see if this ham can top rashers from Aldi, Co-op and Morrisons, join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Waitrose British Wiltshire Cured Ham
 Waitrose British Wiltshere Cured Ham LO table Price and pack size Price per 100g Tasting notes Overall score
£3.49/130g £2.68/100g Subscriber only content Subscriber only content

Waitrose promises a 'mild, rounded flavour' from its cured ham, which matures on the bone for a 'succulent taste and texture'.

To see if this ham deserves a spot in your shopping basket, join Which? to unlock our full table of test results.

Different types of ham 

We focused on Wiltshire ham in our taste test because it's so popular. Much of the ham you'll come across in the course of your supermarket shop will be Wiltshire.

When you see Wiltshire ham in a supermarket, it hasn't necessarily come from that county. 'Wiltshire' refers to the way in which it's prepared. Originally, this involved dry-curing. Nowadays, Wiltshire ham is wet-cured, brined for three to five days, cooked, honey-roasted or smoked and then sliced.

But you'll see other different types of ham around supermarkets and delis. Here's what those names mean:

York ham is rich, firm, dry and intensely-flavoured. As with Wiltshire ham, 'York ham' describes a curing technique. York ham is dry-cured in salt for two days, then hung for at least two months. It should be sliced as thinly as possible. 

Shropshire ham is another dry-cured ham with a firm texture and strong flavour. It gets its recognisable black rind and shiny texture from being marinated in black treacle and sometimes other ingredients, such as juniper berries and coriander, for a fortnight before hanging. 

Carmarthen ham has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, unlike Wiltshire, York and Shropshire ham. It's produced on a much smaller scale, too. This Welsh ham is salt-cured and air-dried for nine months to a year. It’s served very thinly and tastes like Parma ham.

Water in ham 

If water has been added to ham, it needs to be listed in the ingredients on the packet. If water constitutes more than 5% of the product, then the product needs to be labelled as ham with added water. 

Cheaper hams often contain more water, and more by way of chemicals for retaining water. If you prefer your ham to be dryer, you can check the quantity of pork per 100g of ham on the packet, and opt for one with a higher quantity of pork. 

But water isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you like a more moist ham. It's really just a matter of personal preference. 

Storage and serving tips 

We asked our experts how to keep ham at its best. They said that you should: 

  1. Leave ham in its packaging until you're ready to use it. 
  2. Once open, wrap cling film or foil around the packet and refrigerate. Or take the ham out of its packet and place it on a plate, then wrap the plate. 
  3. Make sure that the wrapping doesn’t cling to the meat, otherwise it won't be able to breathe. 
  4. Remove your ham from the fridge 15 to 20 minutes before serving, to bring it up to room temperature. 
  5. Don't freeze ham. The texture of the ham will be spoilt, as any water will turn to ice.

Nitrates in ham 

Nitrates or nitrites are usually added to processed meats, such as ham and bacon, when they're cured. They are there to stop harmful bacteria growing, to increase shelf life and to add flavour. They also give these meats the deep pink colour we recognise and love.

When we eat nitrates and nitrites, they are converted to nitrosamines – some of which are proven carcinogens. The World Health Organisation and the World Cancer Research Fund tells us we should restrict our intake of nitrates and nitrites.

Our experts sampled Finnebrogue’s Naked Outdoor Bred Ham (£2.50/120g). It uses a blend of natural fruit and spice extracts, rather than nitrates and nitrites. It’s not a million miles away from standard ham in other nutritional aspects, though. It’s high in salt and it's still a red meat. Dietary guidelines advise eating no more than 70g of red meat a day, or 400-500g a week.

Our experts didn't enjoy the Naked Ham as much as the premium hams on test. It's more akin to cheaper ham, so you'd be better off using it as one ingredient of many – in a sandwich with pickle, a salad or an omelette, for example – rather than as the star of the show.  

Best beers with ham 

We asked Anthony Kitching, co-founder of charcuterie and bar, Friends of Ham, for his tips on a pint to pair with pork. 

He told us: 'Try a smoked ham hock with a smoky Rauchbier. A nutty brown ale with the acorn hit of an Iberico ham. Or a Gose beer with a salty gammon-style ham. 

'Or you can go for contrast, which is riskier but can have spectacular results. The bitter hit of an American-style IPA can cut through the saltiness and fattiness of a prosciutto or serrano. Equally, the toasty sweetness of, say, a Belgian Dubbel would complement the sweetness in those hams. 

'For a classic English ham, like the ones we tested, you automatically think: ploughman’s and a pint of bitter. It’s a taste of Britain and, for that reason, it’s a great pairing.' 

And for a humble ham sandwich? Anthony says: 'I’d crack open a hoppy pale ale to complement the mix of bread and meat. Delicious!

How we tested 

Our five ham experts rated the 10 different types of ham for taste, texture, aroma and appearance (see score breakdown, below). It was a blind taste test, so they had no idea which brand was which. As taste is so crucial when it comes to ham, it accounts for half the total test score. 

  • 50% taste
  • 20% appearance
  • 20% texture
  • 10% aroma

Our experts were:

  • Sean Cannon – founder and MD of Cannon & Cannon, suppliers of British cured meat.
  • Anthony Kitching – co-founder of charcuterie and bar, Friends of Ham. 
  • Hugo Jeffreys – founder of charcuterie producers, Blackhand Foods. 
  • Steve Pearce – co-founder and MD of cooked-meat company, Southover Food Company. 
  • Jamie Prudom – head of business development at traditional farmers and butchers, The Ginger Pig.
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