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Naked Ham: Not terrible, but not ham

March 17, 2018

People are worried about nitrites in food. By “people”, I mean article-writing doctors, and tabloid newspapers. It’s become a fairly repeated thing that the presence of nitrites in foods such as bacon, ham and pastrami can lead to an increased risk of cancer. This isn’t just an old wives’ tale – there has been research into it and everything. At the same time, I am not losing any sleep on the matter – even as someone who loves cured meats, my level of consumption is such that I risk more crossing the road to the supermarket to buy it.

However, I recently read of a new line of products that addresses this by producing a ham-tasting product without the nitrite-based cure. Naked Ham (and Naked Bacon) is made using “natural” fruits and spices to duplicate the appearance of ham. That’s all, it is not a cured meat, nor does it successfully mimic the taste.

I would have forgotten all about it, but my trip to Waitrose yesterday led me to a shelf of the stuff, on promotion. So I thought I would buy a pack, out of curiosity.

Certainly, it looked the part – a nice pink colour, and the meat was of good quality. However, when I tasted it, it was another story. I tried it both on its own, and in a bread roll. It was actually quite pleasant tasting, but it was not ham, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it simply tasted of thinly sliced uncured pork shoulder, that was very lightly salted.

So, for me, it was a total failure as a ham substitute. Whether anyone else will be fooled depends on whether they taste with their eyes or with their mouth.

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