Ham is a delicious meat that many people love to eat. Whether you use it to make sandwiches or as part of a meal, ham is a great addition to any dish. However, one question that often comes up when it comes to ham is how long it can be kept in the fridge before it goes bad. In this guide, we will answer that question and provide you with tips on how to store your ham properly to ensure it stays safe and tasty to eat.
What is Ham?
Ham is a cured meat that comes from the hind leg of a pig. It can be eaten cooked or uncooked and is often sliced and used in sandwiches, as a pizza topping or as part of a main dish. Ham can also be boiled, baked or roasted, and can be served hot or cold.
How Long Can Cooked Ham be Kept in the Fridge?
Once cooked, ham can be stored in the fridge for up to four days. However, this will depend on a number of factors, including how the ham was cooked and how it was stored. If the ham was cooked properly, stored at the correct temperature and covered to prevent moisture loss, it should last up to four days in the fridge.
Factors that Affect the Shelf Life of Cooked Ham
Several factors can affect the shelf life of cooked ham.
Storage Temperature and Humidity
If the cooked ham is stored at a temperature above 40°F, bacteria can grow and cause spoilage. Additionally, if the ham is left uncovered, it can lose moisture and become dry and tough.
Method of Cooking
The cooking method used can also affect the shelf life of cooked ham. If the ham is undercooked, it may not be safe to eat, while overcooking can cause the meat to dry out and become tough. The best way to ensure the ham is cooked properly is to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.
How the Ham is Packaged and Stored
Proper packaging and storing of the cooked ham can also affect its shelf life. The ham should be stored in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap to prevent moisture loss and avoid cross-contamination with other foods in the fridge.
Can Cooked Ham be Frozen?
Yes, cooked ham can be frozen, but it is important to wrap it tightly before freezing it. This prevents freezer burn and ensures that the ham stays fresh. Cooked ham can be frozen for up to six months.
How to Freeze Cooked Ham
To freeze cooked ham, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Then, place it in a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible before sealing it. Label the bag with the date and contents to make it easy to identify. When you are ready to use the ham, thaw it in the fridge overnight.
How to Tell if Cooked Ham has Gone Bad
There are several signs that cooked ham has gone bad. These include:
- Foul smell
- Discolored appearance
- Unpleasant taste
- Bacteria growth
If you notice any of these signs, do not eat the ham as it may cause food poisoning.
Tips for Storing Cooked Ham
To ensure that your cooked ham stays fresh and safe to eat, consider the following tips:
- Store the ham in the fridge as soon as possible after cooking
- Cover the ham tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil
- Store the ham on the lowest shelf of the fridge
- Do not store ham with other foods that have strong smells
- Do not reuse the same container that the ham was stored in without washing it first
Ham is a delicious meat that can be eaten in many different ways. However, it is important to store it properly to ensure that it stays safe and tasty to eat. By following the tips in this guide, you can enjoy your cooked ham for up to four days in the fridge or up to six months in the freezer. If you notice any signs that the ham has gone bad, do not eat it as it may cause food poisoning.
Common Questions and Answers
Q: How long can uncooked ham be kept in the fridge?
A: Uncooked ham can be stored in the fridge for up to five days.
Q: Can cooked ham be left out overnight?
A: No, cooked ham should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours as bacteria can grow and cause spoilage.
Q: Can cooked ham be reheated?
A: Yes, cooked ham can be reheated, but it should be heated to an internal temperature of 165°F to ensure it is safe to eat.
(1) United States Department of Agriculture. “Ham and Food Safety.” FoodSafety.gov. Accessed August 2019.
(2) United States Department of Agriculture. “Refrigeration and Food Safety.” USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. Accessed August 2019.