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Apr 3, 2012 05:19 PM

Ham cooking time at 250 F

We are cooking two 6-7 pound bone-in, smoked (not pre-cooked) butt portions. They need to be cooked at 250 because there's only one oven. The powers-that-be seem to have decided that 325 is the magic temperature for ham, and after googling and asking my grandma, I'm coming up empty. If I try to determine this mathematically, using oven temperature*time as an analog for Joules of heat delivered, for a 7-pound ham, I come up with about 4 hours and 20 minutes. But I'm not sure if this is a correct way to figure it out. Can anyone help?

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  1. At 350 degrees a seven pound would, in my experience, require something like 30 minutes per pound or about 3 1/2 hours. At 250 degrees I'd estimate it would require about 4 - 4 1/2 hours; which is pretty close to what you've already calculated. There are too many potential variables to set any estimate in stone. In your position, I'd allow about 4 hours, use an instant read internal thermometer that can be left in the ham while it cooks and monitor the temperature on a readout on the outside of the oven and pull it when the internal temperature reaches somewhere in the region of 155 degrees. Then I'd rest on the counter covered in foil to bring it up the the USDA recommended "done" temperature of 165 degrees.
    But, to tell you the truth, I wouldn't cook it at 250 because, at that temperature, it remains in the dangerous temperature zone for pathogen development too long. I'd stick with the moderate oven 350 degree method. But, to each his own.

    1 Reply
    1. re: todao

      Thanks so much for your reply. I do have a thermometer with an alarm, so it doesn't have to be an exact, but I need an estimate because we need to have food hot and ready at a certain time. I cook pork in my slow cooker all the time. Is there a particular concern with ham (and wouldn't a much larger ham cooked at 350 be in the danger zone just as long?)

    2. When I have cooked picnic hams (usually around seven to eight pounds) at a low temperature (250-275), either on the offset or in the oven, I have observed that I am hitting the 140-150 mark at around four hours. While these are clearly not the same cut, I'd say that the size and shape are similar enough to support your calculations for purposes of estimating.

      As an aside, I think that smoked ham cooked beyond 150 is way too done and dry, especially if it is not a commercial product that has been filled with added water. Given that raw pork is safe when cooked to 140, I can see no reason to heat the meat to 165.

      5 Replies
      1. re: MGZ

        Thanks. It's comforting to hear that it sounds about right. The ham has a warning to cook to 148, and usually those warnings are very conservative. But it is one of those "solution enhanced" things, and I read that in tests, people found them overly moist after being cooked. Maybe I can drain and dry the hams the day before.

        1. re: jvanderh

          Funny - I'd say "overly moist" is not a description applied by many to the family Easter ham. My approach would be simply to rinse them well and towel dry an hour or two before putting them in the oven. I would take them out when I have an internal temp of no more than 140 (probably just north of 130 if nobody's watching).

          1. re: MGZ

            Works for me. It will be much easier to do it there rather than repackage the drained ham.

          2. re: jvanderh

            Your calculated time sounds about right baking at 250F. Just use the thermometer to check.

            I don't think you can drain and dry the ham or it's work draining and drying the ham. The ham will not be a water logged sponge.

            1. re: dave_c

              The ham will not be a water logged sponge.

              Reheating a Cook's Shank Ham Portion, 12 + pounds....yielded 48 ounces of liquid.

        2. I agree with 4 hours. and 145 internal temp. I set up my smoker, a Meco, for a temp of 190
          and it takes me about 5.5 hours. I have lived to 70 so far and not killed my self yet.
          I use a small stick in thermometer to check.Good Luck.

          1. Perhaps it's because I cook for people with special dietary needs who are more susceptible to serious complications if exposed to food borne pathogens. But I rely heavily on USDA recommendations for foods. Depending on how they're processed, hams and other pork products, can contain some petty nasty bugs that survive temperatures up to as high as 160 degrees. These include Trichinella spiralis (trichinae), Staphylococcus aureus (staph), and a variety of molds. My hams are moist and tender, not dry and stringy, and they're all cooked to USDA standards.
            Do some research on the pathogens I've listed ... you may want to reconsider how you prepare your ham.
            I'm over 70 too ... but that's no endorsement for being careless in the kitchen.

            1 Reply
            1. re: todao

              Here is the USDA's cooking chart: a 14 pound ham and 20 minutes per pound would be in the oven for 4.5-5 hours. I think it's reasonable to assume that if a heat resistant spore or toxin could form in that time, they wouldn't be recommending that method. They recommend cooking to an internal temperature of 145

            2. Everything went well, and knowing I had the sage advice of chowhounders confirming my planning, I spent the afternoon lying in the grass watching the leaves blow and drinking a beer, rather than pacing around fretting about whether the temperature was climbing at the right rate. Thanks, all!