How Long Does Cooked Ham Last in the Fridge?

Published Categorized as Food
How Long Does Cooked Ham Last in the Fridge?Alkiona25 /123RF

Ham it up, home cooks! The ultimate guide to avoiding the meat sweats by storing your cooked ham right and keeping it fresh.

You know when you’re at the grocery store, and you see that big, beautiful spiral-cut ham just begging to be brought home and devoured by you and everyone else in the house?

Well, before you go ham-handed on that bad boy, you’ve got to know how to properly store it, am I right? So, let’s get to the meat of it: how long does cooked ham last in the fridge? Well, that’s exactly what you and I are going to talk about if you read on. We’ll break down the storage methods, go over some tips on keeping that ham tasting fresh, and answer all your burning ham-related questions.

How Long Can Spiral-Cut Ham Stay in the Fridge?

When in doubt, the USDA’s got some cold hard facts for you about storing that delicious spiral-cut ham. You know the drill — you bring that bad boy home, and you want to make sure it lasts as long as possible. So, how long can you keep it?

Well, according to Ask USDA, you’ve got 3 to 5 days to chow down on that deliciousness. But, if you want to save it for a rainy day, you can toss it in the freezer for up to 2 months. Just make sure to keep your fridge at 40°F (4.4°C) or below and your freezer at 0°F (-18°C).

This is true if you buy cooked ham from the store. If you’re working with a fresh, uncured ham — straight from the pork leg — you’ve got to move quick, because it’s only good for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Keep that in mind and make sure you’re storing your ham correctly, nobody wants to waste good meat.

Why Does the Packaging on Some Hams Suggest More?

Now, you may be wondering why some ham packaging gives a longer shelf life than others. Right? In a blog post on the topic, Lancaster County, PA, ham maker Stoltzfus Meats’ drops some knowledge on you about that sliced ham you see in the supermarket.

You might see some packaging that suggests it has a longer shelf life, but here’s the deal: that’s probably because monosodium glutamate (MSG) or a higher-than-usual amount of nitrites and nitrates have been used to preserve it.

And if you’re a connoisseur of cured meats, you know that these are not the best options for you. So, be a savvy shopper — read the ingredients and buy your ham wisely. Trust me, your body will thank you in the long run.

My Cooked Ham Lasted Less Than That. Why?

Did your ham go bad earlier than normal?

Well, it could be a case of dirty blades at the meat market transferring some unwanted bacteria to that meat. You’ve got to be on top of your game when cutting meat, because bacteria love to feast on it, especially if it’s not handled properly.

Another option is that you’re not storing your ham right. The food safety experts say it should be in the fridge at 40°F (4.4°C) or below and the freezer at 0°F (-18°C). Cooked ham shouldn’t sit out for more than 1-2 hours. If it’s too warm, it’s going to spoil faster — and no refrigeration or freezing will save it when it does.

And let’s be real, who wants a spoiled ham?

It’s also possible that the ham was already going bad before it reached you. That’s why it’s crucial to buy from reputable places and check the expiration date. Bottom line, you’ve got be careful with your meat, handle it right and store it right, so it stays fresh as long as possible.

If it smells or looks off, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Throw it away.

By Dim Nikov

Food writer, Home Cook World editor, and author of Cooking Methods & Techniques: A Crash Course on How to Cook Delicious Food at Home for Beginners. Cooking up a storm for 30 years, and still no sign of a hurricane warning.

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