Canadian Bacon Vs Ham: Here's The Actual Difference

deli ham slices on bread
deli ham slices on bread - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Breakfast meats can foster an intense debate about the identity of the king of the morning roost. And while bacon and sausage typically fight it out for supremacy, there's another breakfast meat that deserves serious attention: Canadian bacon. But isn't Canadian bacon just the same thing as ham? Actually, no, it's not even from the same part of the pig.

It's an easy mistake to make; Canadian bacon and ham can both taste and look similar. But while they share some similarities, they're definitely distinct for reasons beyond even which part of the pig they come from. Knowing the difference is one of the many facts you should master about Canadian bacon. Visual appearance and flavor matter -- though the two are similar in both categories, there are subtle distinctions if you know what to look for. And how you'd use them is pretty different; though Canadian bacon is primarily a breakfast meat, ham is one of the most versatile proteins you can buy.

Read more: 11 Things You Didn't Know You Should Be Doing With Bacon

There Are Plenty Of Differences Between Them

Egg McMuffin
Egg McMuffin - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

The most obvious difference between ham and Canadian bacon is that they don't come from the same part of the animal. Canadian bacon comes from the back -- or loin -- of the pig. Ham, though, comes from a pig's rear legs and thighs. And though ham and Canadian bacon have similar flavor profiles, there are subtle differences. Canadian bacon tends to be milder and sweeter, while ham has a more pronounced salty taste. And while you're only likely ever to see Canadian bacon in thinly sliced discs, ham could appear in any cut or orientation. Canadian bacon is typically dry-cured and smoked, while ham might be dry- or wet-cured.

The most significant difference, though, is in how you'd use them. Canadian bacon is a breakfast staple, but it's not as popular at other times of day; there's a reason it seems constructed so perfectly for breakfast sandwiches like the Egg McMuffin. Ham, by contrast, is just as likely to appear at any meal from breakfast to dinner and can be prepared any number of ways, from processed deli ham to the perfect roast holiday ham. You're probably not going to see a perfect roast holiday Canadian bacon, is all we're saying.

There's Another Type Of Canadian Bacon

slabs of peameal bacon for sale
slabs of peameal bacon for sale - TobinCStudio/Shutterstock

There is another type of Canadian bacon, a juicy, lean bacon cut you can only find in Canada which differs significantly from both ham and what people in other countries often refer to as "Canadian bacon." The authentic Canadian version of Canadian bacon, also called peameal bacon, is wet-cured as opposed to the dry-cured American-Canadian variety. It's also typically coated in cornmeal to extend its shelf life, and its name comes from the fact that this coating mixture used to be made of crushed yellow peas. While American-Canadian bacon doesn't need to be cooked (the dry-curing and smoking process sees to that) and ham only sometimes needs to be cooked (depending on whether it was dry- or wet-cured), peameal bacon always needs to be. It also tends to be both leaner and juicier than American-Canadian bacon.

Peameal bacon may be the true Canadian bacon, but American-Canadian bacon isn't changing its name any time soon. Just don't confuse it for ham; it's definitely not the same.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal