FOOD

Here Are The Best (And Worst) Christmas Hams

We've done the hard ham work for you.

02/12/2016 3:13 PM AEDT | Updated 02/12/2016 3:16 PM AEDT
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Yep, it's that time of year again, whether we like it or not.

The Christmas trees are up, your bank balance has massively depleted, the kids are counting down the days and your neighbourhood has transformed into Santa Wonderland.

It's also a time when we all -- whether you're a Grinch or not -- get excited about the Christmas food we're amount to inhale. Fresh prawns, cherries, pudding, roast veggies, summer salads, champagne, pavlova and your aunty's trifle.

And we can't forget Christmas ham. You know, the tasty treat you eat on Christmas Day and continue to add to toasties, sandwiches, cheese platters, omelettes and quiches for the next six months.

The hardest thing about getting a huge leg of ham? Deciding which one to get.

Well, we've done the hard work for you. How generous of us to blind taste test five Christmas hams from the main Aussie supermarkets -- plus an extra deluxe ham. (It really was a hard job.)

So, here you are. Here are the best (and worst) Christmas hams.

Coles Finest Australian Triple Smoked RSPCA Approved Free Range Full or Half Leg

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According to the description, this free range pork is cured with hand-harvested Mount Zero Pink Lake Salt and is triple smoked over beechwood for a full flavour with subtle, sweet smokiness.

Price: $14/kg

Judge one: This is a pleasant ham but it's a bit one-note. It's a tiny bit dry. It has a mild taste the kids will like, but there's nothing special.

Judge two: I have to agree, I find it to be a bit one-note, and that's a subtle note -- I can barely hear it. I'm not getting much flavour from this ham. It's also a little powdery.

Judge three: That's as bland as buggery. If it was served to me on Christmas Day I would require a very strong sauce to go with it.

Judge four: Hmm. Very dry, I think. And stringy. Very unimpressive.

Notes: good ham for the kids or as a base for glazing.

Aldi Specially Selected Premium Triple Smoked Half Leg Ham

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This ham is made with 100 percent Australian pork, and is triple smoked for a full-bodied, complex flavour.

Price: $10.99/kg

Judge one: This one is fatty. This one I like more. It's got a nice texture. It's dry-ish but it's not chalky or powdery. It's a good classic ham with a touch more depth. It's still an unchallenging piece of meat, but slides down a little easier and has a bit more flavour.

Judge two: This ham would not ruin my Christmas. It does the job. There's depth to this one, there's more complex flavours, and it's not too salty.

Judge three: I don't think the flavour is going to knock you over the head and fell you, but it does have more flavour than the first one and the texture is a lot better.

Judge four: I think this is more ham-like in colour. The other one felt a bit more grey, this one is more pink. I actually think this is quite salty, much more in line with how I like my ham. I would go back for seconds. With chutney.

Notes: a good all-rounder for both children and adults.

Rare Breed Black Berkshire Ham Bone In, Exclusive to Haverick

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According to the description, this carefully selected first-class Rare Breed Black Berkshire Ham is distinguished for its heavy marbling, intramuscular fat and tremendous meat quality, making it juicy and full of flavour.

Price: starting from $17.90/kg

Judge one: I think it's got a really good texture. It combines stringy and moistness really well. Usually stringy equates to dry, but it performs a really nice trick in being both stringy and moist. The taste is subtle, but a little boring.

Judge two: From appearance, this seems like a very fatty ham. Ugh. No. Look, to me it has a really peculiar flavour. It has a rich ham flavour, but it tastes artificial to me. I don't know why that is. I preferred the one we had last. I'm tasting essence of popcorn now...

Judge three: I thought the texture was very good and I could imagine being able to slice this thin or thick and it would be equally good. But for me the flavour was quite watery. I prefer a stronger flavour. If this was a dance, this ham would be a wallflower. He'd have no chance for a partner.

Judge four: I tend to agree. It's very moist which is reminiscent of ham that's been in the fridge for a while. It almost has a slight floral flavour. It has a very light flavour. It's almost pathetic ham.

Notes: good option for those who don't like a strong ham flavour.

Woolworths Gold Free Range Triple Smoked Leg Ham

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Woolworth's ham is new to the Christmas range this year, and is created with sea salt and brown sugar, then triple smoked over beechwood.

Price: $14/kg

Judge one: Oh. Mmm. This ticks many ham boxes. This ham is moist and it's the only of the hams we've tried that has a sweetness. I think that's a crucial element. Perhaps the other hams are there for you to add to, in that they give you the bare ham bone. But this ham has done all the work for you. It presents beautifully and it's got the extra sweetness. It requires no dressing, glazing or sauce. It's just great eating ham.

Judge two: I second that sentiment entirely. This is a ham that lifts you up, it does. It's got a more complex flavour than the others and it's got a sweetness that isn't overpowering. This is an exciting ham.

Judge three: I'm comfortable in saying that this is a ham for the ages. It's got a lot of depth, it's got a lovely moistness, it's robust, it's got a good texture, and you wouldn't need to add anything to this, which is really important because you eat leftover ham by opening the fridge with a knife and carving bits off and throwing it into your gob. It needs to stand up by itself, and I think this one does.

Judge four: I think it's a unanimous -- or un-HAM-imous -- decision. This ham is exactly what ham should taste like. I like the smokiness at the back, and even the little bit of skin I got was just exactly how Christmas tastes. Lurpak, white bread and you'd be in heaven.

Notes: a flavoursome quality ham that doesn't require any glazing.

IGA Bone-In Leg Ham

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According to IGA, this bone-in leg ham is an award-winning ham, having taken home the PorkMark Ham award multiple years in a row. It's an all Australian product that has been naturally beechwood smoked and cured.

Price: $7.99/kg

Judge one: Yeah, I like it. It's good. I think it's probably my second favourite. It's moist and has a good flavour.

Judge two: It's not sweet but has a good flavour. It's quite salty. It doesn't taste like really high quality ham, it tastes a bit processed.

Judge three: I actually think this is potentially the best. It doesn't have the sweetness but I kind of like that. I think good texture, moistness. Salty, definitely, but with a chutney -- mmm.

Judge four: I really like that. It's more salty than the other ones but I like the saltiness. And it's more moist. It's on par with the other best one. It's so delicious and salty.

Notes: a moist, tasty option for those who like saltier ham.

The results

1st place -- Woolworths Gold Free Range Triple Smoked Leg Ham

2nd place -- IGA Bone-In Leg Ham

3rd place -- Aldi Specially Selected Premium Triple Smoked Half Leg Ham

4th place -- Coles Finest Australian Triple Smoked RSPCA Approved Free Range Full or Half Leg

5th place -- Rare Breed Black Berkshire Ham Bone In

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