Should You Remove the Netting From Ham Before Cooking?

Cooking ham for the holidays or a special occasion? You may have noticed some hams come wrapped in netting or string This protective layer helps the meat retain its shape during cooking, But should you remove ham netting before cooking or leave it on?

As a meat lover and avid home cook, I used to wonder about this too. Through trial and error in my kitchen, I’ve learned when netting should stay on ham and when it can come off before cooking.

In this article, I’ll share everything I’ve learned about ham netting over the years. We’ll cover:

  • Why netting is used on ham in the first place
  • When to remove the netting before cooking
  • Times you should keep the netting on while cooking
  • Pro tips for cooking ham perfectly, with or without the netting

Let’s dive in!

Why Is Netting Used on Ham?

Netting or string is wrapped around some hams to help the meat retain its shape during cooking. This is especially useful for boneless hams, where the netting prevents the meat from falling apart without the bone structure to hold it together.

For hams with the bone in, netting also creates a uniform shape for better presentation It prevents the meat from shrinking down and sloughing off the bone too much as it cooks.

The netting provides a protective barrier too. It prevents the outer layer of meat from drying out or overcooking. This results in a juicier, more evenly cooked ham.

When Should You Remove Ham Netting Before Cooking?

Okay, so now we know why netting is used. But should you remove it before cooking or leave it on?

Here are two instances when I recommend removing ham netting before cooking:

1. For Boneless Hams

Boneless hams especially benefit from the netting to maintain their shape. However, removing netting allows seasonings to penetrate better and gives you more even browning.

Without the bone, boneless hams also won’t shrink down as much during cooking. So you can remove the netting and reshape/tie the meat as needed before cooking without it falling apart.

2. For Easier Carving and Serving

For bone-in hams, removing the netting before cooking allows the natural shape to develop unrestricted. The meat can shrink down off the bone easier this way.

I find bone-in hams much easier to carve and serve when cooked without netting. The netting can make slicing tricky. Going net-free prevents frustrations at the dinner table!

However, keep reading because in some cases, leaving netting on produces the best results.

Why You Should Leave Netting on Ham While Cooking

Here are two occasions when I recommend keeping ham netting on during cooking:

1. For a Decorative Presentation

If you’re cooking ham for a holiday dinner or special event, presentation matters. Keeping the netting on helps the ham hold its shape better from cooking through serving.

This looks beautiful on a serving platter. You can remove the netting after cooking but before serving for the best presentation.

2. For Delicate Hams and Slices

Spiral sliced or other delicate, thinly sliced hams stay together better when cooked in netting. It prevents the slices from falling apart during cooking.

For these hams, I recommend leaving the netting on. Remove it carefully after cooking and before serving to keep those elegant slices intact.

How Should You Remove Netting From Ham?

If you do opt to remove ham netting before cooking, do it carefully to avoid damaging the meat. Here are some tips:

  • Use clean kitchen shears or a sharp knife to snip the threads. Don’t pull on the netting.

  • Take it slow and avoid tugging. Stop if you meet resistance.

  • For boneless hams, tie meat back up with twine if needed to retain shape.

  • Pat the ham dry after removing netting. Then season the exterior before cooking.

Cook Up Ham Perfection: With or Without Netting

Get ready for the juiciest, most flavorful ham by following these essential cooking tips:

  • Score the fat – Crisscross cuts allow fat to render and baste the meat.

  • Use a rack – Elevate the ham off the pan for air circulation and even cooking.

  • Brush on glaze – Frequently baste with glaze to keep the ham moisturized.

  • Monitor temperature – Cook ham to 140°F for partial cook or 160°F for full.

  • Let rest before carving – Allow at least 15 minutes rest time for juices to reabsorb.

Remove it or leave it on – the choice is yours when it comes to ham netting. With these tips, you’ll get perfect results either way. Try experimenting to see what works best for different hams.

DIY Butcher Skills: How to tie Roast like a pro (Netting vs Tying Roasts)


Do you remove netting from ham before baking?

OVEN – Remove ham from wrapping and/or net. Place in a baking dish, face down if cut. Add approximately 1/2 inch of water to the pan. Put into 300° preheated oven.

Do you cook a ham with the netting on?

The netting should be removed from the ham prior to roasting. It is not the end of the world if you forgot it, but it will have a tendency to rip off the bark of the skin when you remove it after cooking. Score the meat if desired.

Why is a ham wrapped in netting?

The intended use of meat netting is to form and shape a variety of meat and poultry products during meat processing, resulting in a pleasing look and consistent shape. Netting is a good substitute for butcher’s twine since it shrinks as the meat cooks and cures, eliminating the need to tighten the twine.

Do you remove the string around ham before cooking?

Place the gammon, with the string intact as it holds the joint together during cooking, on the trivet. This stops the gammon from touching the hot base of the pan. Add the peppercorns, cloves, thyme, bay leaf, onion quarters, 400ml of the stout, the bouquet garnis and enough cold water to cover the gammon.

How do you remove netting from a ham?

1. Loosen the netting: As soon as you unwrap the ham, loosen the netting by gently pulling it away from the meat. This will help prevent the netting from sticking to the meat during cooking. 2. Use kitchen shears: Carefully snip the netting away from the ham using a pair of kitchen shears.

Should Ham netting be removed before cooking?

Reasons To Remove The Netting Before Cooking. While it is generally recommended to leave the netting on your ham during the cooking process, there are some instances where it may be necessary to remove it beforehand. Here are a few reasons why you might want to consider removing the netting before cooking:

Why do hams need netting?

Netting is used on hams to help the meat retain its shape during the cooking process. This is especially important for boneless cuts, as the string helps to hold the meat together and prevent it from falling apart. The netting also helps to create a more uniform shape, which can make for a more visually appealing presentation when carving the ham.

Can you cook a ham without netting?

Let it rest: After cooking, let your ham rest for at least 15 minutes before carving to allow the juices to redistribute and prevent them from spilling out when sliced. By following these tips, you can cook a delicious and perfectly prepared ham with or without netting.

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