For most Australian families, Christmas ham takes a centre seat on the festive table. But Seven News has revealed that some hams contain up to 50 per cent water and chemicals, pumped in to inflate the price.
Award-winning pork experts Richard Deignan and Ron Stapleton say some hams, mainly imported boneless hams, contain extra water to bump up weight and increase the retail price.
'There's a lot of water in this packaging and you're paying for it,' Richard Deignan said of some imported products.
Mr Deignan says ham must be cured in brine for 48 hours to give good colour, texture and moisture.
A tasty, moist ham needs to retain around 10 per cent of that brine.
But some hams are injected with up to 50 per cent brine, with gums and starches to hold it in.
Therefore, with a half leg of ham you could be paying $15 to $20 - just for water.
Water-logged ham doesn't last long in the fridge and has a 'mushy, soft, spongy feel,' Ron Stapleton said.
Mr Deignan says, 'The shape, the colour of the ham is all important. Lovely deep smoke colour, and with a cut ham, beautiful pink firm colour.'
The experts say you can avoid the watery ham scam by avoiding imported ham, doing the squeeze test and looking for the pink PorkMark label, which is an indicator of good quality.