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Posted in Food Safety on March 31, 2022
How long ham lasts in the fridge largely depends on the type of ham and storage conditions. Ensuring it remains refrigerated when not in use will extend its shelf-life.
|Type of Ham||Fridge (40°F or below)||Freezer (Below 0°F)|
|Fresh, uncooked, uncured||From 3 to 5 days||From 5 to 6 months|
|Fresh, cooked, uncured||Less than 4 days||From 3 to 4 months|
|Cured, uncooked, cook-before-you-eat||From 5 to 7 days (or “best before” date)||From 3 to 4 months|
|Cooked-at-plant, vacuum-sealed, unopened||2 weeks (or “best before” date)||From 1 to 2 months|
|Cooked, store-wrapped, whole||1 week||From 1 to 2 months|
|Cooked, store-wrapped, cut||From 3 to 5 days||From 1 to 2 months|
|Cooked, country ham (dry-cured ham)||1 week||1 month|
|Canned with “Keep Refrigerated” label, unopened||From 6 to 9 months||Not suitable for freezing|
|Canned, shelf-stable, opened||From 3 to 4 days||From 1 to 2 months|
|Dry Italian or Spanish style, Parma, Serrano, or Prosciutto ham||1 month||From 2 to 3 months|
However, check the label that comes with the ham you bought, as the “best before” date may vary based on the type.
Here is how to maximize cooked ham’s quality and shelf life:
Another option to keep a large ham fresh when storing it in the fridge is to use a tea towel or new pillowcase soaked in a vinegar solution that is placed over and completely covers the meat. Then put the covered ham in the coldest part of the fridge and repeat the process every three days. The vinegar solution is two and a half tablespoons of white vinegar mixed with four cups of water.
Spoiled ham is easy to spot, and here are several signs to look out for:
If there is a sulfur-like or sour smell, the ham should be thrown out.
Pink is the standard color for ham, so it should not be consumed if it begins to turn green or grey.
If there is any sign of mold on the meat, it’s time to toss it.
Fresh ham is firm and moist, whereas spoiled ham will be slimy or sticky.
Rarely, you will not be able to tell from the exterior of the ham when it has gone bad, but if that is the case and the ham tastes off, then throw it out and don’t risk eating it.
When you eat bad ham, there is a risk of being exposed to dangerous bacteria, such as E. coli or Bacteroids. If ingested, these bacteria can cause food poisoning, resulting in stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. In severe cases, some bacterial toxins can damage the kidneys and may be life-threatening.