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How to Store Ham

This is a close look at an Italian pork ham with herbs.

A great baked ham for a holiday or just any day is tasty and delicious but how should you store your ham before you cook it and how do you store leftover ham?

My mom recently made an amazingly delicious honey glazed ham for Easter. The spiral ham with the honey glaze is my favorite type of ham so I was pleasantly surprised since she usually opts for a boneless ham we’re a country ham for our holidays. Whichever type of ham you choose, you will need to store it before and after you cook it.

Our family always has plenty of leftover food from every holiday since our families not that large and my mother cooks for an army. When I bring some Christmas ham or Easter ham home with me to eat in the days following the holiday, I simply store it in a plastic or Tupperware container in the refrigerator or my mom will send it home on a Styrofoam plate wrapped in tin foil.

Either way is fine because I will eat it within the next two to three days following the holiday in which she cooked it. My daughter, however, takes a lot more ham home with her since she has a large family to feed and she freezes some of it to use for later meals.

There is an array of recipes that you can use for your cooked ham but until you use it, you will first need to learn how to store ham.

Related: Ham Substitute Options | Types of Ham | Side Dishes for Ham | Honey Glazed Ham Recipe | Ham vs. Bacon | Turkey vs. Ham

How to store ham

If you have ham on the bone, you might be amazed at the fact that there is a different way to store a bone-in ham than there is for other types of ham.

Storing Ham in the Refrigerator

A woman inspecting the packaged ham from the fridge.

A calico ham bag can be used to store a ham in the refrigerator or you can opt to use a larger-sized tea towel or even a pillowcase. Whichever one you choose, you simply need to ensure that the entire ham is covered before placing it in the fridge.

You should also mix up four cups of water with about two tablespoons of white vinegar and wet the bag, making sure that it is completely soaked through to keep the ham moist. You will need to also be sure to wring it out a bit so the solution you made does not drip in your fridge. You will want to then store your ham in the coldest part of your refrigerator which is most often than not at the bottom part of the fridge.

You should repeat this process about every three days to ensure your ham stays moist as you eat pieces of sliced ham throughout the week. Ham will only last about a week in the fridge and you should check it towards the end of the week for any weird or foul-smelling odor or discoloration. If that happens, throw it away but if not, by the end of one week, you will have to freeze the leftover ham or throw it away.

Also, do not leave your ham outside of the refrigerator for more than two hours at a time, or any meat for that matter.

Storing Ham in the Freezer

Ham and various other packaged meat in the freezer.

Yes, you can freeze ham but you should follow the following method to keep it fresh and ready to eat when you want it.

If your ham has a bone, you should slice the leftover Christmas ham or Easter ham off the bone then divided into smaller pieces in the size that your family can eat during one meal. If you are like me and you live alone, you will have lots of slices of ham for your freezer.

After you slice the ham from the bone and cut it up into pieces for each serving, you then need to wrap it in aluminum foil and follow that up with some type of cling wrap. You should then place it into a freezer bag or another sealable container then label and date it. I like to freeze mine in plastic containers that can go straight from the freezer into the microwave to make it nice and easy when I want to heat up him for a meal.

Some people meal prep on Sundays for the whole week so you could actually make entire dinners using your ham with a variety of different side dishes so that you can just heat it up during the busy work and school week when you’re pressed for time. Some popular side dishes for him include mashed potatoes, harvest potatoes, scalloped potatoes, Au Gratin potatoes, and even asparagus or green bean casserole.

You should also freeze an entire new ham using this same process and then when you are ready to cook it. Also, you should thaw ham in the refrigerator overnight before cooking it.

Frozen ham is best cooked or eaten within four months of placing the ham in the freezer. Also remember that once you defrost the ham, you should use it as soon as possible.

Storing Ham Slice

Slices of ham with herbs and spices.

When it comes to ham slices, there is a certain way to store them. Simply put a piece of a paper towel, folded up, in the bottom part of an airtight plastic container. You should then take the sliced ham from its original packaging and put it on top of the folded paper towel. Put another piece of folded paper towel on top of your ham slices before closing the container tightly then put it in the fridge.

Be sure to continue to store it this way as you remove slices to eat. You can keep ham in the freezer for about six months.

Storing Ham Steak

A piece of raw pork ham with herbs and spices on the side.

To increase the shelf life of ham steak you have already cooked, be sure to put it in the fridge in a shallow airtight container right away since you should not leave meat sit out for more than two hours. You can also wrap it tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil or even plastic wrap to keep it fresh and moist.

Once your ham steak is stored, you should eat it within three to four days. You can also freeze ham steaks and just like a whole ham, it should last about six months in the freezer after purchase.

Check That Date

When purchasing ham, always pay attention to the use-by date that is on the packaging. This important to ensure you are purchasing fresh pork or ham and keep in mind that ham should smell fresh with a sweeter type of aroma. If it begins to smell more meaty, it is time to throw it in the trash.

FAQs About Ham

How do you cook ham?

Place your thawed ham in a roasting pan to cook it in the oven. If you have a spiral ham with honey glaze to cook, do not put the glaze on the ham until the last 30 minutes of cooking or it may burn and ruin your ham.

Can you freeze a ham bone for later use?

Yes, you can freeze a ham bone and use it later in a soup. Just wrap it in foil or plastic wrap and place it in the freezer. It will last for about one to two months in the freezer.

What is Prosciutto?

Basically, prosciutto is the Italian word for ham. You will hear it used as prosciutto crudo, which is a raw, cured ham, and prosciutto cotto, which means cooked ham.