How to Make Spam

Rhona Reid
By Rhona Reid July 29, 2019 06:36

How to Make Spam

Are you a fan of Spam?  No, not the junk email kind…the meaty canned mix that’s been around since WW2, when it was a much loved (or loathed) troop staple.  It’s ubiquity and reputation was such that American GIs even labeled Spam “ham that failed the physical.”

A portmanteau of ‘Spice’ and ‘Ham,’ Spam is a cultural culinary icon. Originally marketed to busy housewives as ‘the miracle meat’ that didn’t need to be refrigerated, Spam’s big selling points included the possibility of enjoying it hot or cold, straight from the can, in countless Spam-centric recipes.

Soldiers On Spam

During the war effort, millions of cans of Spam were shipped to troops as a low-cost, filling, nutritious staple that was easy to transport and store for months on end.  Inevitably, it quickly became the scourge of soldiers who had to eat it virtually every day in some form or another.

It even inspired some of them to think up increasingly creative ways to express their frustration at being served Spam for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  One anonymous poem ends with the lines:

And thus the endless cycle goes;
It never seems to cease —
There’s Spam in cake and Spam in pie
And Spam in rancid grease.

The reference to Spam in ‘rancid grease’ is particularly appropriate; one of Spam’s extracurricular wartime uses was as a lubricant for the moving parts of guns.  Pioneering soldiers used the greasy meat residue to waterproof boots and tents, before enjoying a game of poker played with Spam slices inked with card markings.

The empty tins weren’t wasted either – they were often pressed into service as pots and kitchen utensils.

Related: 14 Must-Have Canned Foods You Didn’t Know Existed

A Festival of Spam?

Feelings about Spam during the war years might have been mixed, but today, Spam is still so loved in Hawaii, following the military presence there during WW2, that the locals have an entire festival dedicated to it.

Despite its rich history, if you think Spam doesn’t exactly set your culinary world alight, then we might just have a revelation for you. Try the homemade version.

Homemade Spam is tender and delicious and can form the basis of countless sandwiches and meals.  The ingredients are few, the method is easy with no specialist equipment required and the results are seriously mouthwatering.

Serve up some nostalgia with a few slices fried up with eggs or in a grilled cheese Spamwich or go a little fancy and stir fry chopped Spam with Chinese rice or noodles.

Here’s how to get some homemade Spam into your life:

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs pork shoulder;
  • 1 lbs ham;
  • 2 tbs + 1 tsp Tender Quick (order online if your local store doesn’t stock it);
  • 3 tbs – sugar;
  • 3 tbs – cornstarch or potato starch;
  • 1 tbs – Kosher salt;
  • 1 cup – ice-cold water;

Method:

#1. Preheat your oven to 250º

#2. If you have a bone-in piece of pork shoulder, remove the bone with a sharp knife and set aside. Dice the pork shoulder meat into stew-size pieces, keeping any fat attached to the meat.How to Make Spam#3. Again, without trimming off any soft fat, dice the ham into the same size pieces as the pork shoulder.

#4. Spread the cubed meats in an even layer on a tray and place in the freezer for 45 minutes to firm up.How to Make Spam#5. Meanwhile, make your curing slurry. Mix the Tender Quick, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a bowl with the ice-cold water until the dry ingredients are dissolved.How to Make Spam#6. Set the bowl to one side while you grind the meats, either pushing them through a grinder or using a heavy-duty food processor (you might have to work in batches with this option).How to Make Spam#7. Combine the ground meats in a large bowl and pour over the slurry, mixing everything together really well, preferably with your hands.How to Make Spam#8. Once everything is thoroughly mixed, press the mixture into a bread pan(s) and securely double-wrap the pan with aluminum foil.How to Make Spam#9. Place the smaller oven pan into a larger one and pour in cold water to come three-quarters of the way up the side before putting into the preheated oven for 3- 3/12 hours.How to Make Spam#10. After the cooking time is done, remove from the oven and check that the center of the loaf has reached an internal temperature of 155º.

#11. Take the pan out of the water bath and place a heavyweight on top of the foil and leave until completely cool.How to Make Spam#12. Once cooled, place into the refrigerator – with the weight in place – overnight.

#13. The next morning, remove the weight and foil and loosen around the edges of your Spam with a butter knife. Slide-out onto a plate and slice!How to Make SpamWhat you’ll notice immediately is the rich, delicious savory jelly that surrounds the meat.  If you can resist eating your homemade Spam right away, store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze in parchment paper-wrapped slices.

The juicy, tender, meaty texture and that appetizing jelly is a killer combination that guarantees the first time you make homemade Spam is never the last.

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Rhona Reid
By Rhona Reid July 29, 2019 06:36
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34 Comments

  1. rk July 29, 13:31

    give up on the videos and go straight to what it is you want to sell…..otherwise I will unsubscribe. Your videos are not so good. at least give us the option to read and not listen.

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    • graybeard421 July 29, 14:46

      There was a video in this post? You must have better eyes than I do.

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      • Miss Kitty July 29, 17:24

        Greybeard:. There was in the original post, but I couldn’t get it to play.

        Thanks Claude for reposting this and to Rhona for an interesting article.

        Reply to this comment
    • Jason July 30, 19:16

      Could you pressure can this and make it shelf stable?

      Reply to this comment
      • Val July 30, 21:31

        You can not do it in a canner, like in jars. It would be too dense to cook all the way through. You could however cook it then put it in jars and cook again if that is what you want to do.

        Reply to this comment
        • Rick South August 1, 16:17

          Do you think that it will last with the fat included? I ask because all I have read states you cannot water bath can meat products and even pressure canning it is recommended to remove all fat. Signed: Trying to learn more.

          Reply to this comment
    • Captain July 31, 00:37

      I agree; the videos have stopped me from buying a certain product “MANY” times. Too long and boring. And as rk says give us the option to read the transcript …

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  2. Rich July 29, 14:13

    My dad (WW2 Vet.) told me SPAM was Squirrel, Possum, and Mouse.

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  3. Dr. JR July 29, 15:31

    Five days!! How do you make it last 100 years?

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    • Lou Brown July 29, 17:21

      Not sure about it lasting 100 years (probably not), but I believe you could pressure can it for 75 minutes at 10/15 lbs of pressure (depending on altitude) in large mouth pint jars instead of baking it in the oven. This would last for several years same as canned chicken, fish, pork and beef without freezer burn if stored that long.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Wannabe July 29, 15:44

    PUKE!!!!! Never have liked spam. Would rather make pulled pork with the five pounds of meat. Enjoy

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  5. Ridge runner July 29, 15:53

    First Comment..
    This looks like it could work but what the heck is Tender Quick. Sounds like some kind of Boy Scout.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Miss Kitty July 29, 17:29

    I have this mental image of the “Spam” sketch from Monty Python, with Vikings all chanting “Spam….spam…spam….”
    LOL.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Auge July 29, 17:49

    I remember WWII and spam was our ham for Easter, my
    Mother would dress it up that you thought you were really
    eating ham with pineapple on it. So don’t say you don’t like it when you eat all the garbage at fast food places. I
    liked it and it was good. Ask the people from WWII,

    Reply to this comment
  8. Spike July 29, 19:20

    Why go to all that work to make Spam that needs to be eaten right away. Eat pork like you normally would and save the Spam in the can for the EOTWAWKI.

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    • Just Bob'n. July 29, 23:24

      Gosh! I love tinned Spam. It’s high level protein and relatively cheap as is tinned ham, too. Eat cold as a sandwich filling or sliced and fried. I guess having to eat it every day, as a military in WWII would soon get tedious but eating now and then, now, no problem.

      Reply to this comment
  9. Grumpy July 29, 20:39

    I remember eating it during WW2 but no it was not good. SPAM aka Something posing as meat.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Dr Bob July 29, 23:25

    Gosh! I love tinned Spam. It’s high level protein and relatively cheap as is tinned ham, too. Eat cold as a sandwich filling or sliced and fried. I guess having to eat it every day, as a military in WWII would soon get tedious but eating now and then, now, no problem.

    Reply to this comment
  11. IvyMike July 30, 00:00

    SPAM was a big improvement in my Dad’s diet when he enlisted in 42. Fast forward to the 1950’s and SPAM was on our table once a week. Remember Bubba (Forrest Gump) endlessly reciting all the ways you could cook shrimp? Growing up, SPAM was our shrimp. My favorite was chunked SPAM in a big bowl of Campbells Pork And Beans.
    Reckon I last ate SPAM IN 1968. Don’t miss it.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Spike July 30, 01:54

    Canning cooked hamburger would be easier with a better balance of nutrition…That being lower in fat calories, more protein and little or no added sodium. Spam may fill the need for an occasional change in diet.

    For those of you who like Spam…go for it. I don’t remember disliking it but it was never served at my house because it was suppose to be so unhealthy. Probably not any unhealthier than then the crap we eat at the Fast Food places. Probably better for us than the processed sugars I’m addicted to.

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  13. left coast chuck July 30, 03:11

    I just had Spam for dinner tonight. I like it really cooked thoroughly, until it is just a little short of jerky.

    While this article was interesting, it seems like a lot of work to me when one can buy a can of Spam for $2.50 and sometimes less when it is on sale. It’s already in the can ready to put on the shelf. It’s easy to transport, nice convenient square shape. The pull top is more convenient than the old key top to open, although the lid is just as sharp as the edge on the old key top can.

    One thing I have noticed is that Spam doesn’t have the gelatinous stuff in the can that the Spam from my childhood had. I was never fond of that, whatever it was.

    Everyone talks about the fat content in Spam, but when I cook it, I don’t wind up with that much fat in the pan. I think the formula might be different from what it was during WWII.

    In any event, there are many people alive today that wouldn’t be here if it were not for Spam, dried potatoes, dried eggs, powdered milk and American cheese. My wife might well not be here today were it not for the foregoing in post WWII Japan. I am sure there are folks whose ancestors were in Germany post WWII and survived on those items and were happy to have them.

    Speaking of monotonous diets, while on Okinawa we had chicken in one form or another for six meals a week. After two years of that much chicken it was a long time before I looked forward to a chicken dinner. I always suspected that the mess sergeant had his own private retirement fund going but had no proof of same other than the low budget meals we were served.

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  14. Rick South August 1, 16:46

    My Grand Mother and Mother called this Potted Meat. I always have known SPAM to be like a Meat Spread.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck August 2, 01:22

      I looked up potted meat on line because I seemed to recall a separate product called exactly that from my days as a grocery clerk eons ago.

      There is a wide variety of brands of potted meat according to an internet search. There is even chicken potted meat which was a surprise to me. Wow! That really tops it for me with regard to the yuck factor.I can’t imagine anything more disgusting that ground up chicken parts, bones, gristle and fat. OTOH, I once had chopped chicken liver in Jewish delicatessen of outstanding repute in our town and it was smashingly good. Certainly the equal to the finest liver wurst or braunschweiger.

      Wikipedia’s discussion of potted meat is not laudatory.

      Spam has a potted meat which is labeled with the trade name Spam, but is also labeled potted meat where as the Spam we all know and love is different from potted meat.

      Underwood’s Deviled Ham is considered potted meat.

      Rick South is correct, potted meat is described as being spreadable whereas the Spam that we all know and love could hardly be described as spreadable.

      This post is written partially tongue in cheek, so, please. no vile flames about how you and all your ancestors hate Spam with a passion only exceeded by ISIS for Israel.

      Reply to this comment
      • Rick South August 6, 23:09

        Either the Potted Meat or the SPAM was within my realm of food to eat when a lot of nothing was available. Canned (Commercially) Chicken was a staple in the cupboard as a go to at times. (Talk about a large portion of clear fat, Open one of those) My curiosity was canning it at home with the high fat content. As mentioned, the modern world says this a big No No. I personaly am curious on how people got along before the FDA started thinking the had to tell us what Moms and Grondmothers aleady knew?

        Reply to this comment
  15. Johnny Crumpton August 6, 22:52

    I grew up eating SPAM. SPAM and pineapple sandwiches were a particularly good treat. Oh how I long for the old days.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck August 19, 01:06

      Spam and pineapple reminds me of Easter Sunday dinner when my mother prepared roasted canned ham with clove spikes and canned pineapple on it. I always thought there wasn’t a significant difference between canned ham and Spam. I am going to have to try Spam and pineapple sandwiches soon. Thanks for the tip, Johnny.

      Reply to this comment
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