Demystifying the Mysterious Clear Button on Bone-In Ham

You’ve just picked up a beautiful bone-in, spiral-sliced ham from the grocery store for your holiday feast. As you unpack this glazed beauty, you notice a small, clear plastic disc protruding from the ham bone. “What is this thing?” you wonder. No need to panic – this is simply the infamous clear button found on many hams today. We’re here to demystify this curious culinary occurrence and provide tips for safe removal and cooking.

What Is the Clear Button on Ham Bone?

The clear button on a ham bone is a small plastic fastener that helps keep the sliced portions intact during packaging, shipping and handling. It is inserted into a small hole drilled into the ham bone. The discs are usually made from food-grade plastic or nylon and measure roughly 1 inch in diameter. While odd looking, they are totally safe to eat.

These buttons have become commonplace in the spiral-sliced and bone-in ham industry Pre-sliced hams have gained popularity for their convenience – no carving required! The buttons help maintain the uniform shape and slice alignment of these hams. Some people refer to them as the “ham button” or “ham pin”.

Why Should the Clear Button Be Removed?

While the clear button itself is technically edible. there are a few good reasons to remove it from your ham prior to cooking

  • Aesthetics – The button can leave an unsightly blemish on the ham’s surface.

  • Glazing Issues – The plastic may prevent glazes and juices from penetrating properly.

  • Choking Hazard – The button could dislodge and become a choking risk, especially for children.

  • Mouthfeel – Biting into plastic is an unpleasant mouthfeel and texture.

  • Toxicity Concerns – Heating plastics can potentially release toxic compounds.

To allow for the most even glazing and the best presentation, it’s advisable to remove the clear button once you unpack the ham. Doing so takes just moments but makes a difference!

Step-by-Step Guide to Removing the Button

Removing the clear button is simple. Follow these steps:

  1. Locate – Find the clear button on the ham bone. It should pull straight out.

  2. Grip – Use fingers or tweezers/pliers to grasp the button if needed.

  3. Twist Gently – Twist back and forth while pulling lightly to loosen the button.

  4. Pull Straight Out – Remove by pulling directly away from the bone. Do not wiggle side-to-side excessively or you may damage the meat.

And voila! The button should slide right out, leaving a small void behind. Now your ham is ready for cooking and carving. We recommend removing it just before heating or glazing.

Can I Cook Ham with Button In?

It’s not recommended to cook a ham with the clear button still inserted. As the ham heats, the plastic button could:

  • Loosen and fall into the oven.
  • Partially melt, causing an unpleasant taste and texture.
  • Leach chemicals, especially if subjected to high heat from grilling/broiling.

For food safety and the most appetizing results, take a minute to remove the button prior to cooking your ham.

What If the Button Won’t Come Out?

In rare cases, the clear button may be lodged too tightly to remove by hand. If this happens, don’t worry! You have a few options:

  • Use pliers or tweezers to grasp and twist the button free.
  • Carefully cut the button away from the bone using kitchen shears.
  • If it still won’t budge, simply cook the ham as normal with the button in place. It should still be safe to consume.

While an annoying inconvenience, a stuck clear button won’t ruin the ham. Just take precautions when carving and serving to ensure no one accidentally bites into the plastic.

Can I Reuse the Button After Cooking?

It’s not recommended to reinsert the clear button into the ham after cooking. The high heat can distort the plastic so it may no longer fit correctly. The button and bone hole are also vulnerable to contamination during cooking.

For presentation purposes, leave the button out. Your glazed, aromatic, spiral-cut ham will look beautiful without this unnecessary plastic addition!

Helpful Tips for Cooking Holiday Ham

Now that you’ve removed the troublesome button, it’s time for the best part – cooking! Follow these tips for holiday ham success:

  • Let the ham sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours before cooking for more even heating.

  • Choose a roasting pan just larger than the ham to minimize oven flutter.

  • Score the ham’s fatty side in a diamond pattern to help fat render and glaze adhere.

  • Stud with whole cloves for presentation and flavor.

  • Brush with glaze periodically during roasting for a sticky, candied crust.

  • Use a meat thermometer to determine doneness – ham should reach 140°F.

  • Allow 15 minutes of resting before carving for juicy results.

May your ham dinner be met with rave reviews and requests for leftovers with the unsightly button removed!

Questions People Often Ask About Ham Buttons

  • What are ham buttons made of? The buttons are made from food-safe plastic or nylon. They should poses no health risks if consumed.

  • Do I really need to take it out? It’s highly recommended to remove ham buttons before cooking. Leaving them in poses some potential risks.

  • What if it won’t come out? Try gripping it with pliers or tweezers for better traction. If it absolutely won’t budge after trying several methods, it should still be safe to cook and eat the ham.

  • Can I reuse the ham button? It’s not recommended to reinsert ham buttons after cooking as they likely became contaminated and warped in the process. Discard used buttons.

  • Is it ok if my kids swallow it? While not advised, the material is designed to be food-safe, so accidental ingestion should not make anyone ill. Supervise young children around hams with buttons.

The Takeaway on Clear Ham Buttons

Mystery solved! Those odd clear buttons are merely utilitarian plastic fasteners to assist with the handling of spiral-sliced hams. While safe to eat, they are best removed pre-cooking for an optimal glazed ham. With the steps provided above, you can easily pry out and discard the button. Then roast your holiday ham to aromatic, mouthwatering perfection without this strange addition.

Costco Spiral Sliced Ham for Thanksgiving


Where is the plastic button on a ham?

Precooked spiral hams usually include a plastic button or dish at the bottom of the ham. Be sure to remove this before baking.

Where is the clear button on a half ham?

Bone-In Ham Reheating Instructions: Remove all packaging materials, including the clear “button” over the bone. Place ham in shallow roasting pan. For a bone-in half ham, place the ham “face” vertically in the pan.

What is the plastic piece on ham bone?

Bone guards are placed over the exposed bone to protect the food packaging from puncturing and causing leakage. Used with a variety of meat packaging solutions, including hams, preformed trays, and multivac type packaging.

Do you leave the plastic thing in the ham?

Neglecting to take the plastic protector off ham bones: The plastic bone guard covering the exposed bone is used to keep the bone from breaking the outer wrap. If left on the meat during cooking, a 325 or 350 °F oven temperature may not melt the plastic but still give off an abnormal chemical odor or taste.

How do you cook a Hempler’s bone-in Ham?

Watch how to prepare a Hempler’s Bone-In Ham Remove all packaging materials, including the clear “button” over the bone. Place ham in shallow roasting pan. For a bone-in half ham, place the ham “face” vertically in the pan. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 275°F for approximately 15-18 minutes per pound until heated through. Do not overheat!

How long do you cook a bone-in Ham?

Heat oven to 275°F. Remove all packaging materials including the clear “button” on bone-in Ham. Place ham in shallow roasting pan. Bone-In 1⁄2 Ham ~ Place HAM FACE vertically in pan. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 275°F for approximately 15 – 18 minutes per pound until heated through. DO NOT OVERHEAT!

How do you reheat a bone-in Ham?

Bone-In Ham Reheating Instructions: Watch how to prepare a Hempler’s Bone-In Ham Remove all packaging materials, including the clear “button” over the bone. Place ham in shallow roasting pan. For a bone-in half ham, place the ham “face” vertically in the pan. Cover with aluminum foil.

How do you remove a ham bone?

Make several small slices along the bone to remove it, leaving as little meat as possible on the bone. Once fully detached, remove the bones to a plate. To remove the cap bone: About 1?3 of the way from the hock end of the ham is a small bone, like a kneecap, that needs to be removed.

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