Cured hams are made by coating or injecting a cut of ham with brine. This brine is usually packed with salt and other sodium-rich contents, which slowly kills off all of the bacteria inside of the meat.
If you’ve ever tried cured ham for yourself, you would know that it’s absolutely delicious!
The brine solution that is packed into a cut of cured ham imbues the meat with an intensely salty flavor that melts away on your tongue. The ham almost becomes rather sweet, and it is so pleasant to slowly savor.
The great thing about cured ham is that it can also be purchased easily at your local grocery store or wholesaler so that you can take it home and snack on it to your heart’s content.
But, buying your own cured ham then brings up the issue of storing it. Where should you put cured ham when you bring it home? Does it last in the fridge? How long for? Will it also last in the freezer?
If you’ve bought a cut of cured ham, prepare to make the most of it, as we’re going to find out how you can care for it!
How Long Does Cured Ham Last In The Fridge?
Cured ham will last in an average refrigerator for up to 7 days. This gives you a good week to enjoy it to completion. However, depending on how you store it in your fridge, the ham may be able to last longer or will last for far less time.
If your cured ham has not yet been removed from its original packaging, then you can easily place it in your fridge for up to 7 days, and maybe a few more.
This is because the packaging will be keeping the ham hermetically sealed, so it is not being exposed to bacteria.
If your ham has already been opened, such as if you have some leftover, then you can expect it to last in your fridge for around 5 days.
After the 5 day point, it may begin to spoil, which would lead to its savory taste being replaced with a more sour or rancid taste.
How Long Does Cured Ham Last In The Freezer?
In order to keep some cured ham for longer than an extra week, you can choose to keep it in your freezer instead. This is a great solution, as it would allow you to keep the ham at its best quality for up to 2 months.
After this point of time, it may slightly begin to lose its quality, but would still be very safe to eat. After the 3 month point, however, it may not maintain its quality, and it may lose its satisfying taste and texture.
You should aim to use up any ham in your freezer within the 3 month period. Freezer burn can quickly take root in ham at this point, which would cause the flavor to be destroyed entirely.
How Should You Place Cured Ham In A Fridge Or Freezer?
If you want to place some of your cured ham into either a fridge or a freezer, you should start by wrapping all of the leftover meat in plastic wrap. You can then place the plastic-wrapped ham into a container, or a freezer bag, and then place it into either device.
Placing your cured ham into a sealed freezer bag with plenty of plastic wrap keeps the strong smell of the ham from permeating every time you open the fridge or freezer.
If the smell were allowed to flow freely through a refrigerator it may latch itself onto other foods in the fridge, until everything eventually tastes like ham! Yuck!
You can use other solutions, such as aluminum foil to wrap up your leftover ham, just as long as you wrap it up tight, to keep it away from the open air, and to keep its smells packed in.
Allowing outside air to reach the ham will allow bacteria to begin to thrive on the ham, which begins the spoilage process.
Can You Refreeze Cured Ham That Has Already Been Allowed To Thaw?
Yes. This is a perfectly valid choice if you find that you need to refreeze some ham that you have allowed to be thawed. However, there is one thing that you definitely need to ensure, before you place the cured ham into the freezer again.
You must ensure that the cured ham has been allowed to thaw within your refrigerator. If your cured ham has been thawing at room temperature, then it will be vulnerable to bacteria, and likely will have already developed some.
Once this has happened, not even the freezing process will kill those bacteria, and it will still survive after a second freezing process.
Allowing food to thaw within the controlled environment of a fridge keeps bacteria from reaching it, as fridges are designed to create temperatures wherein bacteria cannot thrive.
You should also ensure that you only refreeze your cured ham once, as refreezing multiple times can lead to irreversible changes to the texture and taste of the ham.
Got yourself some fancy cured ham, and want to make the best use of it?
Make sure to use your fridge and freezer to their fullest! Placing cured ham into a fridge or a freezer can significantly increase its lifespan, with a fridge increasing it by up to 7 days, and a freezer increasing it to two months!
However, you must make sure that the conditions are optimal for your ham to keep it at its best. Try to keep the ham in its original packaging in a fridge, and if not, make sure to wrap it up nice and tight to allow it to last longer in both the freezer and the fridge.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can You Tell If Ham Is Spoiled?
If you’re not sure whether your ham has spoiled, you should try to give it a smell. Does it smell unusual? Maybe even foul and sour? If so, it has likely spoiled. Ham also goes slightly slimy when it spoils.
If you are still unsure whether your ham has spoiled, stick with your gut, and assume that it has.
Does Cured Ham Need To Be Refrigerated?
Cured ham does not necessarily need to be refrigerated, though it definitely benefits from it.
If you planned to keep your cured ham outside of the fridge, and at room temperature, you should try to consume it within a day, otherwise it may have already begun to spoil.
Does Cured Ham Need To Be Cooked?
No. Cured ham is perfectly safe to eat when you purchase it. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot cook it should you choose to.