Freezing ham properly and safely is easy once you know the best methods.
Ham is a specialty dish when it comes to family gatherings, especially during the holiday season. It is the most versatile meat and is the perfect centerpiece for the holiday dinner table. However, due to its large size, many people come up empty-handed when it needs to be stored. Whether it’s cooked, whole, or sliced ham, this article has all the info you’ll need to understand how to freeze ham.
Why Ham Needs To Be Frozen
Ham is often leftover from family dinners and holiday leftovers, and storing leftover ham in the fridge will only make it last for 4 to 5 days. Fortunately, ham is a cured meat and thus it can be preserved when stored in the freezer.
The Proper Way to Freeze Cooked Ham
It’s important that you know how to freeze cooked or uncooked ham to preserve its savoriness and taste. Whether you need to freeze leftover cooked ham, sliced, or diced ham, the most important thing is to let it first cool in the fridge before you safely store it in the freezer.
Freezing Ham Slices
Freezing sliced ham is much more convenient in terms of space, and when you want to serve smaller portions. Frozen ham slices are perfect for when you want to prepare ham sandwiches. Here’s how you can freeze them:
- Consider the many leftover ham recipes and how you’d want to use the frozen ham. Cut it into slices or dice to your preferred size and thickness using a sharp knife.
- Separate the slices into preferred serving sizes.
- Use a vacuum-sealed freezer bag to store the ham without getting excess moisture into the bag.
Freezing Whole Ham
If you don’t want to cut the ham to preserve most of its flavor, you can store it whole. However, it will take up more space. Follow these steps to freeze a large ham:
- Use a freezer paper or aluminum foil or plastic wrap to cover the meat.
- Put the wrapped ham in an airtight container and seal it tightly.
- Label the container with the date of storage – it’s best to use it within 6 to 12 months.
Freezing Ham Bone
You can also store the ham bone and use it to add flavor to soups or make chicken broth. The best way to freeze ham is to first refrigerate it, and then store it in the freezer. Here’s how you should freeze ham bone or ham joint:
- Put the ham bone in a freezer bag and tightly seal the top to protect it from harmful bacteria. Make sure you remove as much air from the freezer bag as possible.
- Check to ensure the bag doesn’t have any holes that might let moisture inside. Label the bag with the storage date.
How Long Can You Freeze Leftover Ham?
While frozen ham can stay unspoiled indefinitely, having a long shelf life, it will start to lose its flavor after a certain period of time depending on the condition it is stored in. Here’s how long ham can be kept frozen:
- Fresh, uncooked, uncured ham – 6 months
- Fresh, cooked, uncured ham – 3 months
- Cured ham (sliced) – 3 to 4 months
- Cooked, whole ham – 2 months
- Cooked, sliced, or spiral cut ham – 1 to 2 months
How To Thaw Ham
The thawing time will depend on the internal temperature and the condition of the frozen ham. Put the safely frozen ham, along with its container in cold water and let it thaw for 2 to 3 days. Make sure you prevent freezer burn by taking proper safety measures.
Always be cautious when it’s time to defrost ham for your recipes – avoid leaving it on the counter to thaw at room temperature. When you reheat leftover ham, simply let it thaw and heat at optimal temperature in a crock pot. Consider using a slow cooker or an instant pot to cook ham. Optimize the cooking time if you’re making Serrano ham.
Now, season the cooked hams and enjoy!