Family dinners almost always involve a large cooked ham as the highlight of the entire meal or as the star ingredient, especially during the holidays.
Whether you’re a seasoned cook or just a kitchen rookie, you know you would have to buy some ham while it’s still early.
You can level up your Easter, Christmas, or even just your celebratory dinners with family and close relatives by finding innovative ways to use your ham.
You can serve it as it is or mix it to make other dishes such as pot pies, frittatas, casseroles, scones, salads, chicken cordon bleus, skillets, and more!
- Also, what are the best side dishes to serve with ham?
- How much Ham to feed 20 people at Thanksgiving
Can You Freeze Ham? Here’s What You Need to Know
So, what happens when you encounter a situation where you buy ham too early but don’t have plans on cooking it yet or there are simply too many leftovers from your last scrumptious dinner? Can you freeze ham? If so, how long can you keep a ham in the freezer?
The simple answer is yes, you can definitely freeze ham. How long you can keep ham depends if you keep it in ideal cold storage conditions to prevent it from spoiling, or starting to go off.
For example, if you have had a ham in the fridge for two weeks covered with a clean dish cloth, in the beginning, it most likely has grown some bacteria as you take the ham in and out of the fridge. Therefore freezing a partially used ham is typically not a good idea and it certainly will not last as long as a fresh ham that is frozen as soon as you get home.
This article will guide you on how to make sure your ham is kept safe, could last long enough, and stay fresh until it’s time for you to cook it up or use them again for other dishes.
Read more to find out:
How Long Can You Freeze Ham?
Hams, whether you purchase them whole or half, are already considered fully cooked. They’re typically smoked, cured, or baked by home cooks which means you would only have to toss it in the oven, heat it up, and then it would be good to go.
As such, your store or deli-bought ham would have details on its manufacturing process on the label. You can also check it for specific storage instructions. If there aren’t any, don’t fret as you can refer to the next sections for help.
How Long Does a Half Ham or Full Ham Last in the Freezer?
Generally, cured and fully cooked half ham or full ham will maintain its quality for about 1 to 2 months, but you could conserve it for longer that time. Hams that have already been opened and cooked will also last for about 1 to 2 months while country ham could only last for about 1 month.
On the other hand, freshly cooked but uncured ham will have a longer life of about 3 to 4 months. Regardless of the type of ham, make sure it has been constantly keeping frozen at 0°F for the best results.
How Long Does a Half Ham or Full Ham Last in the Fridge?
Opened and cooked ham that is fully cooked and cured would last in the refrigerator for about 3 to 5 days if properly stored. Country ham, on the other hand, may last up to 7 days while freshly cooked but uncured ham will last for 3 to 4 days.
Uncooked ham may be kept for up to 7 days or up to its original store packaging (i.e., best before/use-by dates). If you want to maximize its fridge life, it’s best not to open the package until you’re ready to use it for cooking. Remember to keep it refrigerated at 40°F or lower.
How to Freeze Ham?
When freezing cooked ham, it should be frozen while it’s still fresh to achieve the best quality. If the ham is uncooked, here are some tips to consider:
- Leave it in its original packaging.
- If the original package has holes in it or if the ham is removed from it, rewrap the ham using heavyweight, moisture-proof foil or plastic wrap. Freezer paper or freezer bags can also be used.
- Make sure to double wrap the ham tightly across the entire meat surface to help keep in as much moisture as it can.
- Mark the wrapped ham with a date and label.
- Avoid freezing canned ham. If it isn’t ham that’s stable for shelving, remove the ham from the can, wrap it, and then freeze.
It’s much more recommended to freeze ham rather than storing it in the fridge. However, freezing ham could alter its flavor and texture. Luckily, there’s nothing spices and seasonings can’t fix!
There are three safe and secure methods you can use to thaw ham at home. You can either thaw ham in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Here are the ways you can thaw ham depending on the method you choose:
- In the refrigerator: keep frozen ham in its original packaging and place it in a tray or container that can prevent ham juices from leaking. This method will take 4 to 6 hours per pound of ham when thawing. Make sure to cook it within 3 to 5 days.
- In cold water: place frozen ham inside a leak-proof container before submerging in cold water. Remember to drain and replace the water every 30 minutes. This method will take 30 minutes per pound of ham when thawing and it’s required that you cook it as soon as it’s thawed.
- In the microwave: remove ham from its wrapping or package. Check the microwave manual for any heating instructions for ham; usually, it takes 15 to 45 minutes. Cook the ham immediately after thawing.
Can Ham Be Refrozen?
It depends on the method you use for thawing. If it was defrosted in the refrigerator, you can refreeze it again within 3 to 5 days.
Note that there will be changes to its quality, you might find that it becomes watery when you for it again.
If the ham has been kept in the fridge the whole time then from a food safety point of you it should be alright to refreeze as long as you’ve had no cross-contamination.
However, it is always best practice certainly in the food industry never to refreeze something that has already thawed. On the other hand, thawed ham through cold water or in the microwave should not be refrozen.
Can Ham Be Kept At Room Temperature?
Uncooked, dry-cured hams can be stored at room temperature due to their low water content. Ham leftovers, on the other hand, could only last at room temperature for less than 2 hours. Within that time frame, the leftover ham should be wrapped and refrigerated or frozen as soon as possible.
Can You Refreeze Ham?
Ham is one of the stars of the night on every holiday occasion around the world. They can also be served on your family day picnic, snack at school, or for a ready-to-go breakfast. Perfect for a sandwich, pasta, or just simply at it is. But sometimes you have some leftovers due to being full from the last feast you had or you just wanted to keep uncooked ham for another special dish. To keep it safe from spoilage, you might ask, “Can you refreeze both?”
And absolutely yes! As long as you followed proper thawing which should be inside your fridge. But what if you had your cooked and uncooked ham left at room temperature, can you still refreeze it? It will be another yes as long as it is within two hours. That’s the two-hours rule!
How to Refreeze Ham?
Now that you know both cooked and uncooked ham can be refrozen, the next question will be is how? Do you just simply put it back in the freezer? Will the taste still be the same after refreezing it? Though there are several types of uncooked and cooked ham such as fresh, cured, country, etc. You’ll see the general rule and the right way of refreezing ham. Also, frozen ham has indefinite safety. Though, USDA gave shelf life for freezer storage.
Cooked ham (Cured)
You can still refreeze your leftover ham as long as it was reheated reaching 165 F internal temperature using a food thermometer. Ensure to use the proper package like a clean container or freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.
It will be best to cut it in thin slices already to have the right proportion when you needed to cook not the whole piece of the ham. Though for half and sliced ham in your refrigerator it will last for 3-5 days unlike for whole wrapped it can last up until seven days. But both will be on its quality for 1-2 months from your freezer.
Uncooked ham (Cured)
It is still safe to refreeze uncooked ham though it will lose some taste and quality because of losing its moisture. Within 3-5 days from your refrigerator, the uncooked ham should be refrozen and can last up to one to two months.
What Should I Do About Mold on A Country Ham?
As mentioned above, there are many types of ham with different safety storage. One of the types of ham is country ham. Normally if a food has a mold, it will be the most obvious sign that it needs to be thrown out.
But for this kind of ham, USDA says, “Mold can often be found on country cured ham. Most of these are harmless but some molds can produce mycotoxins. Molds grow on hams during the long curing and drying process because the high salt and low temperatures do not inhibit these robust organisms. DO NOT DISCARD the ham. Wash it with hot water and scrub off the mold with a stiff vegetable brush.”
There are also some types of ham that you can store at room temperature for a year. You can check all the types of ham and its storage chart available on the USDA website.
How to Know Ham Has Gone Bad?
It will be heartbreaking to throw out your sweet ham but it will be the best thing to do if you’ve seen some sign of spoilage from it.
You can easily distinguish if it’s time to say goodbye to your cooked or uncooked ham. Either it smells bad already, it changed its color or has mold on it.
There you have it, even if it is cooked or uncooked ham, you can definitely refreeze both. With proper storage and thawing, you can extend its shelf life and can still enjoy another delicious meal with this all-around meat.