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Smoked ham is one of the best choices if you’re looking to enjoy the slightly cooler weather in the lead up to Thanksgiving.
Smoked ham is a great choice of meat for any time of the year though, not just during the winter!
Of course, it’s very easy to cook or buy too much meat. This means you will likely be left with a lot of leftovers. Is it even possible to eat so much meat by yourself?
Well, that’s where the magic of storage comes in! By storing your meat correctly, you can make it last for longer. This means that there will be no need to throw away all of that delicious smoked ham.
So how do you store smoked ham in the fridge, and how do you know when the ham has gone bad? Here’s everything that you need to know.
How Long Does Smoked Ham Last In The Fridge?
The truth is that the answer to this question can vary. This is because you can get a few types of smoked ham in the market, and thus the storage instructions can differ between the types.
For instance, it’s worth noting that if you are buying ham right from your local supermarket, there’s a strong chance that it has already been cooked before you even take it home. This can have a big impact on how long it’s going to last.
The amount of time that your ham will last will depend on a few things - whether it has already been cooked is a big factor here. If you have cooked it and smoked it yourself, that may influence how long it’s going to last.
So, how long does does smoked ham last in the fridge? Well, if you’ve bought fresh ham that’s been smoked, it may last for around 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator. You could also freeze it, in which case it can last for up to 6 months. This is ideal if you aren’t going to be eating it in the immediate future.
On the other hand, if you have smoked ham that’s not been opened yet, that can last for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. In the freezer though, it will last for up to 6 months.
Other types of smoked ham such as leftovers or lunch meat may not last as long in the freezer but could last longer in the fridge. It ultimately depends on the type of meat that you have bought.
As a rule of thumb? You should assume that the vast majority of types of smoked ham will last for a range of up to 7 days. If the ham is vacuum sealed then it may last a little bit longer.
How Should I Store Smoked Ham In Order for It To Remain Fresh?
As far as preserving smoked ham is concerned, you can either put it in the fridge or you can freeze it. The choice is ultimately up to you, depending on what you plan to use the ham for and when you intend to use it.
The first thing to do, regardless of whether the ham is cooked or uncooked, is to make sure that it’s been wrapped up well to ensure that it is well preserved.
If you can vacuum seal it that is even better. If this is not an option, put it into an airtight container or a freezer bag. You could probably use aluminum foil or some plastic wrap too.
Of course, make sure that the ham has cooled enough before you try to put it in fridge or freezer bags, otherwise you may cause some problems for your food safety.
Once the ham has been wrapped up, you can then put it in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. If you have bought the ham from the store, you may want to check the best before date to see whether 7 days is still viable.
When you are putting the ham in the refrigerator, you should try to put it in the back of the refrigerator if you can.
You should also try to split the ham into smaller pieces too, that way you can simply get the portions you want to use out of the refrigerator instead of getting the entire ham joint.
Whether its cooked ham, leftover ham, smoked ham hock, most smoked meat stores the same way.
What About Uncooked Smoked Ham?
Now you may be wondering if the method differs at all if the smoked ham has yet to be cooked. In fact, smoked ham that has yet to be cooked can be stored fairly easily, so you shouldn’t need to worry too much about it.
In fact, if you store uncooked ham in your fridge it’s possible that it will last a significant amount of time. Make sure that you wrap the ham up in a little bit of freezer paper or some plastic wrap, even if it has been vacuum sealed already. It should be fine for around 2 weeks in the fridge if you haven’t opened it.
If you have canned smoked ham, then you could probably store it at room temperature - it doesn’t need to be put in the refrigerator.
Once you have opened the canned ham, you can then put it in the refrigerator, ensuring that the can has been covered well. You don’t want your entire fridge smelling like smoked ham, after all!
Can You Freeze Smoked Ham?
If you aren’t planning on eating the smoked ham straight away, then you may be wondering if it’s possible to freeze it. As we’ve touched upon earlier, it is indeed possible to freeze smoked ham.
In fact, doing so means that your ham could last for as long as 6 months before it needs to be thrown away. It’s always better to put ham in the fridge and to eat it fairly fast if you can, but if you can’t then this is an option.
Before trying to freeze the smoked ham, it’s a good idea to check the label. Some products will actually come with labels that say things such as use it or freeze it, and this will tell you whether it’s safe to freeze it or not.
If the packaging explicitly tells you that you shouldn’t freeze the ham, then you should be fine to put it in the freezer.
There are a number of different ways that you can freeze smoked ham - it ultimately depends on the outcome you’re looking for. It’s possible to freeze ham that’s already been cooked, and then you can thaw it out afterwards and it’s ready to eat.
If you don’t do it this way, you’re going to need to wait for the ham to thaw so you can then cook it afterwards, which can take a lot of time and effort.
If you’re freezing ham that’s already cooked then you can put it straight into the freezer in the packaging it came in if you haven’t already opened it. Otherwise, wrap it up tight in some aluminum foil or you can use a freezer bag. Make sure that you label it with the date and the contents before putting it in the freezer/
Then, to defrost it you can just put it straight into the refrigerator. It’s best not to let it defrost out in the open air since bacteria can get into it, which isn’t safe. It could take up to a day or so to freeze though, so make sure that you prepare in advance if you want it for dinner.
How To Know If You Need To Throw Out Smoked Ham
So, is it possible for ham to go bad? The short answer is yes. If you leave it uneaten for too long, it may start to go bad and it may not be safe to eat. Some meats such as country ham can last a lot longer, but all ham will eventually go bad.
Before you eat that ham, it’s always a good idea to double check the use by date. These aren’t always as precise as we would like them to be, but they can give you a decent idea about whether it’s a good idea to actually eat the product in question.
While you could easily eat the ham beyond the use by date and it could be okay, it’s often better not to take a chance on it in case it’s dangerous.
The question then is how exactly can you tell if ham has gone bad? The very first thing that you should do is simply look at the ham.
Check for signs such as the ham looking slimy if it’s been cooked or cured already. This is a good indicator that you shouldn’t eat it anymore.
You can also look for signs that it’s changed color. If ham has gone bad, it may begin to look a little grey or green in color (think Dr Seuss - Green Eggs and Ham!). In short, if the ham looks a little dodgy, you should follow your intuition because it’s probably gone bad.
It’s not just the appearance that’s important, however. You should also check out whether the ham has a weird smell to it. If it smells okay and nothing else appears to be wrong with it then it should be perfectly fine to eat it.
With that being said, if it seems to have a weird smell then you should get rid of it. Your nose should tell you whether it’s bad or not.
Last but not least, you also need to consider the taste. If you bite into a piece of ham and it doesn’t taste quite right, then you may need to get rid of it.
Basically, if the ham seems off then there’s a good chance that it may not be a good idea to eat it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Those are just a few of the things that you need to know about how long smoked ham will last in the refrigerator.
Thankfully, as long as you follow the information we’ve mentioned above, you can expect those ham leftovers to last for quite a few days before you need to throw them away.
Of course, there are a few extra questions that you may have, and we’re here to answer them!
Is It Necessary to Refrigerate Smoked Ham?
Unfortunately for some, yes - in most instances it will be necessary for you to put your ham in the fridge in order to keep it fresh.
Of course, this isn’t true of all types of ham, since you can keep some out in the open. For the vast majority though, you will need to refrigerate the ham. If you’re in doubt, it’s always best to put it in the fridge.
Is a Smoked Ham Cooked Already?
This depends on a few things. If you went to the store and bought ham that has been baked, smoked or cured, then there is a strong chance that it has been cooked already.
With that being said, if you want to serve the ham you will most likely need to reheat it in some way in order for it to be edible.
Before you assume it’s been cooked already though, you should first check the label. You don’t want to accidentally eat ham that hasn’t been cooked!