Hams are cured both in brine and with a combination of heat and smoke to produce a juicy, delicious protein for your meal. Ham can be purchased either bone-in or boneless, depending on the amount of ham you need and your texture preference.
What if you bought too much ham or changed dinner plans? In this guide you will learn all about freezing ham including the best way to do it and how long it can last.
Can You Freeze Cooked Ham? Yes!
All cooked ham, hence the name, is cooked before you buy it and can be frozen. However, if you bring home a whole ham and bake it, you can still freeze the remainder too.
The best way to freeze ham is with as little air exposure as possible to avoid the risk of freezer burn and maintain the salty and smoky flavor of the meat. A vacuum sealer is ideal, but a Ziploc bag with the air removed is okay too.
Your cooked ham probably came to you in vacuum packaging, and you’ll want to refreeze it with as little air contamination as possible.
Also be certain to take the ham off the bone before refreezing so the bone doesn’t tear up the plastic and introduce air.
If you want to save the ham bone for soup, consider wrapping it in a couple of layers of plastic wrap, then placing this in an airtight bag.
How Long Can You Freeze A Ham?
Cured hams should not be frozen more than two months.
Can you freeze a honey baked ham? Yes, but when freezing honey baked ham, experts with Honey-Baked Ham suggest a limit of forty-five days.
Can you freeze a spiral ham? Yes! In fact, experts with Dakin Farm recommend freezing your spiral cut ham immediately unless you plan to serve it within seven days. A spiral cut ham comes to you fully cooked, so give it three to four days to thaw in the refrigerator and serve it cold.
The rules for how to thaw a frozen ham are very simple:
- Thaw your ham in the refrigerator over several days.
- Whether you’re sealing and freezing leftover ham or sealing a newly purchased product, do not let it come to room temperature.
As noted above, your thawed ham will likely exude some water in the thawing process. This water should smell like ham and not be slimy or slippery. If you have any concerns, discard it.
Don’t forget to read expiration dates before freezing your ham. You’ll want to freeze it well before the date to discard it comes.
How Long Does Ham Last In The Refrigerator?
Cured ham in the original vacuum seal can last up to two weeks in your refrigerator according to FoodSafety.gov.
Once you open the airtight seal, the ham will be moist. If you notice your pork smells funny, has an odd odor or a slimy feel to the meat, discard it.
It’s important to note that a full-sized ham will likely take up a lot of refrigerator real estate, and every time you open the refrigerator you’ll warm up your ham. If possible, stay under the two week maximum.
Is There A Difference Between Ham And Pork Roast?
Hams are processed with flavorings injected directly into the flesh. Then, they are cooked with smoke long term over low heat: 65 to 82 Degrees Celsius / 149 to 179.6 Degrees Fahrenheit.
Without the brining and smoke, hams would just be large pork roasts.
The slow cooking temperature and smoking process results in a very juicy piece of meat. This may be delicious when cooking fresh ham, but it can be worrisome when thawing and using a frozen ham.
Bone-In vs. Boneless Ham Qualities
When buying ham, you’ll find that bone-in ham has more real meat texture and is easier to slice and fry as a ham steak.
However, bone-in ham sections tend to be quite large, while boneless ham can be purchased in smaller sections. Boneless ham undergoes quite a bit of processing and compression, so you will note a different texture in a slice of boneless ham.
Curing, slow-baking and smoking meat is an ancient method of preservation. The science behind this is solid, but the home cook still must be aware.
Your cooked ham should be pink and any liquid from it should be watery, not slippery. If you smell anything other than smoky deliciousness, do not eat!
Did you enjoy this guide? Let us know in the comments with your favorite methods of freezing ham and recipe ideas.