why do we eat ham on easter sunday

Certain holidays go hand-in-hand with certain foods в like turkey on Thanksgiving, for example. is another one. But is there any real reason why we tend to eat ham on Easter, aside from tradition? The reason ham is traditionally eaten at Easter is actually because itвs in season! Historically, pigs were usually slaughtered in the fall, when itвs chilly outside and the cold could keep the meat fresh during the several days it would take to break down and prepare the hog. (Itвs also widely believed that pigs slaughtered after the first frost taste better, because theyвve been grazing on acorns and insect-free grass. ) The hams would be cured over the winter and be ready to eat by the time spring rolled around.


Another reason for hamвs inclusion in the Easter feast is size. A single ham is usually enough to feed a large group of people, so itвs ideal for a big family dinner such as Easter. A couple other fun facts: Lamb is for a similar reason в sheep tend to be born in the early days of spring, making them ideal for slaughter and consumption right around Eastertime. And we also eat turkeys on Thanksgiving due to seasonal factors в their hormone levels change as their bodies prepare for the winter, so theyвre fatter.
Just as sure as small children will hunt colored eggs and refrains of Peter Cottontail will lodge in your head, a ham will be front and center on most American tables this Easter. While the rest of the world celebrates the arrival of spring with lamb, the pink, salty-sweet slices of cured pork, slathered in a sticky glaze, have become the tradition.


Eating ham at Easter dates back to at least the sixth century in Germany, says Bruce Kraig, founder of Culinary Historians of Chicago and author of Man Bites Dog. Pigs, says Kraig, are ecologically forest-adapted animals. They thrived in Northern Europe, where farmers let pigs roam the abundant woodlands to forage for acorns and roots. Slaughtered and hung in the autumn, pigs were one of the few meats available to eat at the early spring festival. When Christianity spread northward, it merged with the pagan spring celebration of Eostre, the goddess of the rising dawn.


A convenient uniting of traditions was born, with ham at the center of the feast. Early American settlers brought pigs from Northern Europe to the New World, where they were not native. Today, after decades of spiral-cut and other sweet, pink, commodity hams, consumers are demanding humanely raised, all natural meat. A small niche of the American pork market is offering pasture-raised animals with no artificial color, hormones, or antibiotics added in the curing process. The nitrates in the meat necessary for preservation result from a natural salting process without extra additives. A traditional Easter ham is typically cured in brine or salt and smoked, which means it is fully cooked, and only needs to be reheated.


The variations are many: whole, half, bone-in, semi-bone, or boneless. A leftover bone, which many cooks want, can be used for another meal, like a bean soup, but the meat may be harder to slice. Ham goes with scalloped potatoes the way peanut butter goes with jelly. For boneless ham, count on -pound per person; for a bone-in ham, allow pound per person. In both cases, round up the amount you buy. You need extra for ham and cheese sandwiches the next day. #coverage, #video, #social { position: relative; width: 100%; z-index: 1; margin-bottom: 1. 5em; } #coverage. hed-section, #video. hed-section, #social. hed-section { font-size: 1. 0625em; border: none; padding: 0; margin-bottom: 0. 5em; }

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