The leftovers are one of my favorite parts of a holiday feast. I am usually the main cook in our group, and I always include ham on any Easter menu I prepare. We are looking forward to the days of biscuits with ham and eggs, as well as thick-sliced ham sandwiches and sharp Cheddar.
But appetites are different each year, and we may have more than a few leftovers. How long can ham be safely stored to eat after the holidays?
Here are some tips on how to safely enjoy your meat and not ruin your sandwich.
How long does ham last in the fridge?
Sliced meat like spiral-cut ham, fresh-cut ham, or shredded meat from the supermarket will keep in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. Cutting meat reduces its shelf life.
What type of ham will last longer in the fridge?
In the fridge, whole cured hams will last about a week. Fresh ham, whether cooked or not, only lasts for a few weeks in the refrigerator. The ham will spoil faster if it is not preserved.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has an excellent resource on hams that includes the proper time in the refrigerator and freezer for every type of ham.
How can I tell if ham is bad?
Even ham will go bad in the fridge. Look at its appearance first. It has changed color. Fresh ham can be pale, while cured ham will be pink. If you notice that your ham is turning green, grey, or black in some areas, it’s time to throw it out.
If it does not smell good, toss it out. Ham should smell almost sweet, with a smokey or salty aroma. Don’t eat anything that smells sour or has an off-smelling smell. Could you remove it?
Bacteria can grow on your ham if it has a slimy, oily, or super-wet texture. Use your senses and look for anything that is not right. A rotten ham will smell slimy.
How can I make my ham leftovers last longer?
It is crucial to get the most out of your holiday ham. Using your freezer is the best way to prolong the life of leftovers.
Wrap the meat first in wax or freezer paper, then foil. Place the meat in a zip-top or vacuum-sealed bag with a label that includes a date.
Fresh, uncooked ham can be frozen for up to three months. Cooked ham can last six months. Raw cured ham will keep for up to three months.
Use the ham within one or two months if you have frozen it.
Ham slices can be stored in a better way.
To store ham slices, place a paper towel folded inside a container that can be sealed. To reduce moisture and keep the ham fresh, layer the ham slices with paper towels. Be sure to tighten the lid to prevent bacteria from spreading.