The Prepper Ham Slam

Some of you may have read my post on chicken in a can. I wanted to share various types o meat with you because I know a lot of you want to put back canned meat but are unsure of what is the best deal or has the best taste. I enlisted the help of my husband, Matt to taste hams with me. Not only that, we used these meats to cook dinners within our home. We have included a few pictures of meals we have prepared.

Canned ham is a good deal as a source of protein, and it provides a lot of flavor. The main dietary concern is that the sodium content is so high and many people are on restricted sodium diets. The key to making ham work for a survival diet is to mix it with less salty foods.

Always remember that your salt intake may need to be higher if you are working and sweating a lot. In the long-term emergency, some people that have high blood pressure may realize that it gets better as they lose weight and get into better shape. No guarantees but I do know that better physical fitness is something that doctors used to recommend for reducing blood pressure.

Note on Pricing:

Costs vary by area. I tried to use common retailers or my local grocery store in North Carolina for pricing. While looking for ham, I discovered that there are a lot of merchants that put ridiculous prices on hams. I saw some hams that should have been $4 that people were selling for $8! When purchasing this type of meat for survival, you should not be paying more than about $4 per container plus any taxes and shipping.

Any product links I include are to the best source I could find for you at a good price.

Dak

Cost: $3.84 

Country Of Origin: Denmark

Container Size: 16 0z

Servings Per Can: 8

Calories Per Serving: 100

Calories Per Can: 800

Protein Per Serving: 9 grams

Total Fat Per Serving: 7 grams

Salt Content Per Serving: 620 mg or 26% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

This is the ham we had perhaps the highest hopes for, and although it was better than the Celebrity or Hereford, it was not as good as the Bristol that has smoke flavoring as an enhancer. I like some smoke on my ham.

The Dak did have some chunks of stringier meat that indicates it was actually made with firm ham. I guess I just expected that with all the positive reviews that people give DAK and how it is so sought after, that it would be firmer meat. It is firmer in texture than SPAM or luncheon loaf, and the flavor was good overall.

For emergency meat, DAK is not a bad choice. The quality seems to be high for what it is. I learned from comparing hams that this type is always going to be a bit like a ham loaf and not firm like a store bought ham in the meat department.

Bristol Ham

Cost: Around $3.25 but sometimes as low as $3.00 at Dollar General

Country Of Origin: USA

Container Size: 16 0z

Servings Per Can: 8

Calories Per Serving: 100

Calories Per Can: 800

Protein Per Serving: 9 grams

Total Fat Per Serving: 7 grams

Salt Content Per Serving:  620 mg or 26% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

This ham reminded me of the Dak because it has real meat chunks rather than just seeming like a small loaf.  The flavor was a big improvement over other hams because of the addition of smoke flavoring. Some people may not like the addition of flavoring agents, but I have to say that natural smoke flavor made this seem a lot more like the ham I am used to eating.

I was thankful that the texture was firm and not like a jello loaf like the Celebrity Ham below.

Celebrity Ham

Cost: $3.29 but can be found on sale at Wal-Greens sometimes for 30% less. I found a deal over the holidays. They do limit you to 6 hams per order for some reason.

Country Of Origin: Denmark

Container Size: 12 0z. This was the only canned ham of this style that I found that was 12 oz. To put it in perspective, a standard size can of SPAM is the same weight.

Servings Per Can: 6

Calories Per Serving: 70

Calories Per Can: 420

Grams Protein Per Serving: 10

Salt Content Per Serving: 760 mg or 32% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

When Matt opened the can, we both thought it smelled a lot like canned cat food. Once we got past that we discovered that this “ham” has almost exactly the texture of luncheon loaf, which is the cheap version of SPAM if you are not familiar with these types of canned meats.

This ham is obviously made of very finely ground ham that is put back together with generous amounts of gelatin. You can see that it is pretty heavy on gelatin in the picture. Sure some of that is fat, but this “ham” is really just a pork meatloaf glued together with gelatin.

The texture was soft, and there was no sign of any “meaty” chunks of pure muscle meat like I would expect. It is hard for me to consider something ham when the texture is so mushy. On top of smell and texture, I had to special order this ham from Wal-Greens online, and if I had not caught it on sale, it would have been more money than the 16 oz hams in this post that tasted better.

Celebrity gets a major thumbs down. I will definitely not be buying this brand again. I think Matt and I both agree that it was our least favorite.

Hereford Ham

 

Cost: $3.50 at my local Ingles grocery store. I could not find this ham for a reasonable cost via an online retailer.

Country Of Origin: USA

Container Size: 16 0z

Servings Per Can: 8

Calories Per Serving: 100

Calories Per Can: 800

Protein Per Serving: 9 grams

Total Fat Per Serving: 7 grams

Salt Content Per Serving:  620 mg or 26% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

The Hereford Ham was very similar to Dak in flavor and texture. The price is better than the Dak, and I can actually find Hereford at my regular grocery store so it is easy to throw a few in the cart to put back. An extra can or two of any food item adds up to a good stash over time!

The texture was firm and it was flavorful. The ingredients don’t indicate any gelatin or other fillers added to the ham, so that is a good sign. This was one of the few of this style of canned ham that I could find that is from the USA.

Classic SPAM

Cost: $2.64 at Wal-Mart

Country Of Origin: USA

Container Size: 12 0z

Servings Per Can: 6

Calories Per Serving: 180

Calories Per Can: 1080

Protein Per Serving: 7 grams

Total Fat Per Serving: 16 grams

Salt Content Per Serving: 790 mg or 33% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

I did not taste test SPAM for this post, but I wanted to include the nutritional information and cost since it is a classic canned meat staple and easy to get. I am willing to say it is probably the most widely sold canned pork product.

SPAM has more calories for your dollar, but that is because it has a much higher fat content than the canned hams I reviewed. The sodium content is also significantly higher although I should point out you can get reduced sodium SPAM if desired.

SPAM is made with ham, but it also has other cuts of pork mixed in. I do have to give SPAM credit for keeping the ingredients simple. Like any pork product that is meant to be very shelf stable, there is some sodium nitrate listed as the last ingredient.

Other options for canned ham are out there

I just tested the hams in a tin we could find. There are options like chunks of ham in water. Here is an option for those that prefer chunks or smaller container sizes.

Hormel Canned Chunk Smoked Ham, 5 Ounce (Pack of 12)

Cost: $1.30 

Country Of Origin: USA

Container Size: 5 0z

Servings Per Can: 2.5

Calories Per Serving: 90

Calories Per Can: 225

Protein Per Serving: 9 grams

Total Fat Per Serving: 6 grams

Salt Content Per Serving:  620 mg or 26% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

This ham is a good deal, and I like how it is in a 5 oz can. I do have to say that while it is listed as chunk ham, it does have some ground ham added to it. Some people report that the salt content overwhelms the flavor. Generally, I like the flavor of Hormel products. This ham does have some smoke flavor so it may be a good alternative to the Bristol Ham that Matt and I liked so much.

This would not be a bad item to put back in your preps. It is very inexpensive, and the 5 oz can size means it is about like a small tuna can so this is a good option for single preppers or those that don’t want to worry about refrigeration when traveling or camping. 5 oz is enough to make a few sandwiches if you have a few other items or toss a little protein on a salad.

Recommendations For Using Canned Ham

All canned ham is going to be salty, so you need to accommodate that when cooking meals. I have often made a mistake myself of forgetting to compensate for salt and adding too much of other spices that contain salt too. Now I usually buy spices that are salt-free to avoid that.

Ham and eggs

If you have a few fresh eggs, you can make a good omelet or scramble with any of the hams in this post.

Sandwiches or with crackers

The basics are sometimes the best in an emergency.

Grit Cakes with a fried egg, ham, and swiss

My husband is an excellent cook. We don’t eat out, so he pitches in on cooking meals. We have learned a lot from one another by getting in the kitchen together. Matt made this dish for breakfast one morning when we were trying to use up all this ham. Since there is a lot of salt in it, we tried to portion it out.

To make this you need to make grits and then let them set up in the fridge. It is best to do the grits the night before.

  1. Pat the grit cakes out into reasonable size patties for flipping.
  2. Fry eggs however you like them
  3. Fry slices of canned ham.
  4. Layer with a slice of swiss cheese while everything is hot and it will melt a little. I believe Matt put the cheese on top of the grit cake and then put the egg and ham on top.

We topped ours off with salsa and sour cream after the picture was snapped.

Ham and cheese bread loaf with mushrooms, onions, and garlic

This recipe takes a while to do because it is gluten-free and the bread process requires some timing and extra steps. I use this excellent little bread book that has recipes from a French bakery that has been in operation since 1951. I have to get creative and add different binders like a few eggs to make the recipes work with gluten-free flour and diet.

Here is a link to the bread book I love. It is out of print at the moment so you will have to get a used copy or the e-book.

Prepper Stockpile Foods To Use With Ham

  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Pasta
  • Soup mixes
  • Peas
  • Dried Potatoes
  • Crackers

There are so many recipes where ham would be an excellent meat choice. Dried potatoes, dried cheese powder, and some ham mean you can make scalloped potatoes, an excellent dish that fills stomachs is easy to make, and tastes good!

A lot of dried soup mixes are completely lacking meat so some ham would be helpful. I do have to say that a lot of the premixed dried soup blends are very salty to start with so if you can just keep some dried ingredients on hand to make your own soup blends on the spot, you may be better off.  I recommend dried veggies, ham, and low sodium vegetable broth powder for a basic recipe. Taste and add spices and salt as needed.

Conclusion: Canned ham is good but salty and is just a little meatier in texture than SPAM.

The cost of the hams tested in this article varied from $3.50-$4.00 per lb. SPAM was $2.64 for 12 oz when I checked the price at Wal-Mart which is equivalent to a cost of $3.30 per lb. With that little of a price difference, the cost is not really a major factor in the decision of what ham product to buy. Of course, that may be different if you find a sale. Products like SPAM are on sale more often than special little canned hams like we taste tested.

I expected all of the hams we tested to be more like the sandwich ham you get in the meat section at the grocery store: not deli ham but a little more like Kentucky Legend in texture and flavor. The Celebrity Ham reminded me more of the cheap luncheon loaf I ate when I was a kid. We got it at the discount grocery store and at the time I thought it was pretty good but to put it in perspective, SPAM cost a lot more so you can only imagine all the meat byproducts that went into that stuff.

This post did make me think about how it is important to put back some plain foods to cook and mix in with saltier foods that you have put back. Testing these hams and eating a few meals made with them made me reach for my water bottle more often than usual and my husband and I both woke up parched the night after consuming a big meal that had canned ham in it.

 

The elusive Ginny showed up for clean-up duty this time.

What canned ham products do you like? Have you been in a situation where all you had was canned meat for an extended period of time? 

  1. Sam.
    I never criticise canned meats due to exposure at a young age. The best I’ve had was P.E.I. chicken in a can in the old Canadian K rations from the 1960’s.

  2. I want to tell you my Mother would fix spam so many different ways we never
    thought it was the same can of meat. I remember WWII and we loved the stuff
    but I always liked mine sliced very very thin. But, she would make a meat loaf
    from a few cans, because we had nine people living in a one bedroom (four family
    flat) and one murphy bed in the dinning room wall, and we all got along.
    Spam was good then.

  3. What is the shelf life for these tested meats?
    I missed your last post on canned meats.
    Is it possible to dice or slice canned meats & dehydrate it?

    1. The hams we tested had a best by date of 2023. Chicken in a can has a much shorter shelf life. I believe it was just 2 years for canned chicken. I have never heard of anyone dehydrating canned meats so I have my concerns about how safe that would be. Although beef jerky can be made from hamburger using a dehydrator, there is a curing process that has to happen before it is dried. Canned ham contains curing agents but I have no idea if they contain enough to be safe for drying. I recommend a cautious approach when it comes to meat safety so I would not recommend dehydrating canned meats. Also, keep in mind that a lot of people say that canned meat may taste a little different after the best by date but they have consumed canned meat that is far past the expiration date and had no ill effects. Canned meats that are saltier or that have preservatives added keep a lot longer than those that do not. Ham has the longest shelf life. Thanks for reading!

  4. After purchasing a bunch of the canned hams, I started using a can in my bean soup. It is much cheaper than buying ham slices and it actually makes a much better soup because the ham does not get tough while it is in the soup. I will not go back to regular hams for recipes.

    1. Freeze drying might be okay. Not sure how cost effective it is to freeze dry something like ham. I have never used a freeze dryer so I am not sure how much power would be consumed. You might come out cheaper just buying freeze dried pork. Of course, freeze drying is going to concentrate the salt content in the ham so you probably wouldn’t want to just eat it without adding water or using it in something you are cooking. Thanks for reading! If you freeze dry some canned ham, please let us know how it turns out!

  5. We’ve had both the DAK and Celebrity ham and found them to be tasty. Other than Spam, we haven’t tried any of the other ones. We like Spam and use it in different ways. I especially like Spam Singles. They are a great addition to my GHB.

  6. Mom liked Spam because it had so much fat. She would always save the fat to use in biscuits or to add to bean or split pea soup. We kids didn’t like Spam. But now I can understand why she bought it. When people aren’t getting enough calories, extra fat in the diet is good to have.

  7. Other than Spam I’ve only tried the canned ham from the grocery store, Aldi’s. It is very good; big chunks of ham in it. In fact I have maybe 20 cans of it in my preps. It’s about $3.00 can. I’ve heard the Walmart brand of Spam is very good and cheaper. I bought a can to check out that claim. I also have about 30 cans of Spam. The canned meats last a very long time; much longer than the “best by” date found on them.

  8. Another canned ham item is Harvest Creek Premium Diced Ham sold at Costco.
    I am still experimenting with it but so far I really like this ham mixed with canned sauerkraut and potatoes.

  9. Appreciate the reviews of the various canned ham products. Because there were several different weights involved, it would be very informative and convenient to have each of these products listed on a price per pound basis. Makes for easier comparison. The data is there for each of us to do it ourselves, but it would have made a nice little table of cost/lb, and maybe a second column with a 54321 rating (5 being the best, 3 being average, and 1 being poor). I use the 54321 rating for a reasonable summary of whatever I am recording, e.g. the planting of an early cauliflower on September 8, 20xx = 2 (did OK but barely made a head).

    1. All the hams I actually reviewed are all 1 lb each except the Celebrity. A 1 lb package is pretty standard. The tiny 5 oz style cans I never reviewed. They cost a lot more on average per lb but some people don’t want to open a full pound at a time. Thanks for reading.

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