Shelf Life of Ham

The majority of individuals prefer always to have ham available. It’s simple to overstock it, leaving you to wonder if it will be eaten before it spoils. We can confidently tell you how long ham will stay in the fridge or when frozen because we did the study for you.

Uncooked ham keeps for up to 5 days when stored in the refrigerator at the suggested 40 °F (4 °C) and for six months when frozen. After being cooked, ham keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days and freezes well for four months. Ham that has been cured can be frozen for up to 4 months or kept in the fridge for up to 7 days.


What is Ham?

Ham is a product made from the pig’s hind legs that have been salted, smoked, or dried to preserve it for consumption. The two hams make up roughly 18–20% of the weight of a pork carcass. The shoulder sections of hog carcasses are widely processed and sold as shoulder hams, picnic hams, Callies, and Californias in the United States. Pork shoulders and ham trimmings are used to make the majority of ground ham spreads, which are marketed under numerous trade names. However, these products are not as good as real ham.

Shelf Live of Ham

In the Fridge

A ham can stay fresh for up to 75 days in the refrigerator. A half ham will keep for roughly sixty days if you have one.

Ham that has been spiral cut or precooked will keep for about a week. Sliced ham may come in packaging that says it has a longer shelf life on the market, but that probably means MSG or higher-than-normal nitrites and nitrates were applied to preserve it.

Check the packaging and toss it if it has passed its expiration date to find out how long your ham will stay in the fridge. You should eat your ham within five days of packing or wrap opening.

In the Freezer

Up to six months of ham storage is possible in the freezer. We advise putting it in the refrigerator if you intend to eat it within two months.

Wrap your ham securely in plastic wrap or aluminum foil if you plan to freeze it. In addition to preventing the ham from drying out, this will help seal in its natural juices.

At Room Temperature

Fresh and cured uncooked ham can be kept in the fridge or freezer. If possible, place it in the refrigerator or immediately freeze it. Uncooked meat shouldn’t be kept at room temperature for longer than two hours, especially if it hasn’t been cured.

How to Store Ham Correctly?

Ham’s shelf life will ultimately be greatly influenced by how well it is stored. Use airtight storage and freeze it if you don’t intend to eat it within the following several days. This is the most crucial step.

The Ideal Ham Storage Method

Raw ham should be kept in the coldest part of the refrigerator at temperatures between 34 and 38 ° F. If it is packaged and cured, it should be safe to consume up to its expiration date.

Keep it in its original packaging if it is fresh (uncured) and in the fridge. If it spills, attempt to carefully wrap it in plastic, an airtight bag, or a container. Ham should be carefully covered, so it isn’t exposed to much air. The sooner it is cooked, though, the better. Put it in the trash if it begins to spoil.

It is best to freeze raw ham as soon as you can. Fresh pork can be kept in its original packaging, although it is preferable to carefully wrap it in freezer wrap, a freezer-safe container, or a freezer-safe bag. To keep out moisture and air, use two layers of wrapping. Once more, maintain a steady temperature below 0.

Cooked Ham

Within two hours of cooking, store-cooked ham in the refrigerator. Utilize small, airtight containers. Alternately, carefully wrap the object in freezer wrap or heavy-duty foil.

Within two hours of cooking, keep cooked ham in the freezer. Place in a freezer with a continuous temperature of 0°F or less after tightly wrapping with freezer wrap or a freezer-safe container.

What is the Advice for Freezing Ham?

There are numerous ham varieties, including fresh, cooked, cured, and country. Any ham can be frozen, but it might be challenging to figure out how to do it effectively. The ham can be frozen in its original packaging if it has not been opened. Here are some guidelines to remember when freezing leftover ham, whole or cut into slices:

Ensure the ham is dry and chilled (to prevent ice crystals).

Wrap in foil, then place in a freezer bag or plastic wrap.

Put the wrapped ham in a different freezer bag or container for storing. This will lessen the risk of freezer burn.

Kitchen Pro Tip: Ham freezes better the greater the quality. A higher-quality ham will not have the words “water added” or “having water product” on the label (see the sorts of ham in our guide). Hams devoid of water will defrost with improved texture retention. Ice crystals can form when you freeze ham with more water. When the ham is thawed, this results in a more lacy structure.

How to Thaw Ham?

In the Refrigerator

Although it takes the longest to thaw ham, this method is the safest. Your refrigerator’s temperature, which should be between 34 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit or 1-3 degrees Celsius, is just warm enough to allow your ham to thaw while remaining cool enough to prevent any bacteria from waking up and throwing a party just yet.

The refrigerator’s bottom shelf should hold the ham. Put it inside a pan with a lip so it may catch any drips while it is thawing. (This baking sheet serves the purpose perfectly. Try a 9-by-13-inch baking pan instead if your ham will fit in that size pan.) Reduce the possibility of cross-contamination by placing your ham in a container and on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.

In Cold Water

You can also thaw your ham in cold water if you neglect to remove it from the freezer in time. Yes, cold water is required. The temperature of the ham will reach 40 degrees F (4 degrees C) or more if you use warm or hot water long before the interior has thawed. Bacterial growth is aided by temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius), which increases your family’s risk of food poisoning.

Ensure the ham is well covered in an airtight bag before thawing it in cold water. This will alter the flavor and consistency of your ham. The meat may absorb some of the thawing water if it is exposed to it. Any bacteria in the water or the kitchen could also contaminate the ham.

How to Cook Different Varieties of Ham?

Fresh ham is injected with brine, including salt, sugar, sodium nitrate, erythorbate, phosphate, potassium chloride, water, and flavorings when making cured ham. A temperature of 150 F is then reached inside the ham. Bacteria are eradicated, and a fresh ham is transformed into a cured one with chemical brine and cooking. This variety of ham, frequently referred to as baked ham, may be found in most supermarkets and delis.

While brine or smoke is not always necessary, aged ham typically involves a lot of salting and seasoning. The ham is hung in specialized, well-ventilated spaces with exact humidity and temperature conditions for one to five years. During this period, a thick layer of mold hardens into a crust, protecting the flesh from spoilage and promoting the development of different flavors throughout the ham. After the maturing process, the ham is thoroughly washed, dried, and packaged after the mold has been entirely scraped off.

The ham is smoked for days or weeks at a temperature of about 60 F (15 C) to produce cold-smoked ham. Because the temperature is so low, compounds in the smoke and the gradual drying process restrict the growth of bacteria. For a cold-smoked ham to maintain bacterial control during the curing process, salt curing (usually in brine) is necessary. Most of the time, wood or wood chips are used to smoke hams, but the kind of wood also makes a significant difference.

Which Signs Indicate Bad Ham?

A Bitter or Rotten Odor

Fresh, salty, and smoky aromas should permeate the ham. Throw away your ham if it has an offensive odor like sulfur, gasoline, or skunk. The sniff test is typically pretty reliable in determining if the ham has gone bad.

Discoloration that is Green or Grey

If there is a glaze, the fat will be a darker shade of brown or pink than when the ham is fresh. Ham usually becomes grey, green, or even blue when it begins to go bad.

Even if some of the ham has changed color, none of it will be safe to eat, so you may wish to clip out the discolored portions and utilize the rest.

A Slimy or Tacky Appearance

Ham shouldn’t leave any greasy or wet residue on your skin, but it should have a soft and moist texture. Don’t eat slimy or oily ham because that indicates bacterial growth. Ham could get sticky due to some germs. Any ham that doesn’t feel correct in your hand should be avoided.

This will be noticeable on sliced ham in particular. This may not be as obvious if you have a whole ham with a crust or glaze.


If mold appears on your ham and it is black, brown, white, or green, it is necessary to discard the ham. The color and texture of the ham should be completely homogeneous.

Although you might be tempted to clip the mold off, the fact that it even appeared indicates that the ham is no longer edible.

What are the Adverse Effects of Consuming Ham?

May Make Cancer More Likely

The two main techniques of cooking ham, curing and smoking, raise the levels of many substances that are known to cause cancer, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), N-nitroso compounds (NOCs), and heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs)

When the ham is reheated using high-temperature cooking techniques, including grilling, pan-frying, and barbecuing, these chemicals rise even further.

Additionally, nitrate- and nitrite-based preservatives, occasionally added to ham to maintain its color, inhibit bacterial development, and stop rancidity, may also cause cancer.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), processed meats like ham can lead to pancreatic, prostate, and colorectal cancers.

Risk of Developing a Chronic Illness

Studies have shown conflicting results about how ham impacts your chance of developing other chronic diseases, even though a link between processed meat and cancer risk is well documented.

Iberian ham prepared in the Spanish tradition has some anti-inflammatory properties. On the other hand, extensive research on humans reveals a greater mortality rate among individuals who consume processed red meat often, most likely as a result of an increased risk of chronic illness.

It may Make you More Likely to Get a Foodborne Disease.

Although ham-related food poisoning cases have declined recently, processed meats and sliced deli meat, including ham, carry a significant risk of contamination of Listeria, Staphylococcus, and Toxoplasma gondii.

As a result, the ham may be avoided by those at a high risk of developing a foodborne illness. Young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with impaired immune systems are some of these populations.

Reference: Hybrid in Silico/in Vitro Approach for the Identification of Angiotensin I Converting Enzyme Inhibitory Peptides from Parma Dry-Cured Ham

There is a lot of interest in the bioactivity evaluation of foodborne peptides, and many investigations are focused on the antihypertensive effects of inhibiting the angiotensin I converting enzyme (ACE). The current work provides a simple procedure using a tandem hybrid in vitro/in silico technique to find inhibitory peptides from food matrices. Ham from Parma was chosen as the example study. The benefit of adopting the hybrid strategy (instead of the experimental trials alone) to discover active sequences has been emphasized. Particularly, ACE inhibition has been evaluated in fractions produced by in vitro gastrointestinal digestion of ham samples aged 18 and 24 months.


Uncooked ham can be stored for quite a long time in the fridge. However, it should be handled in a way to prevent contamination. You should never mix raw meat with cooked foods, so wash your hands thoroughly after handling them. To avoid cross-contamination, keep your workspace clean and use separate cutting boards and utensils.

The best way to store raw ham is to keep it in an airtight container. If possible, wrap it in plastic or aluminum foil. If the ham is going to be frozen, it should be placed in a freezer bag and sealed to protect it from airborne mold spores. Depending on the type of ham, you may be able to store it in the freezer for up to 4 months.