Ham is something most people always like to have on hand. In fact, it’s easy to overstock it and wonder if it will last long enough to get eaten in time. I have done the research for you and will tell you exactly how long ham will last in the refrigerator or frozen.
When refrigerated at the recommended 40 ° F (4° C), uncooked ham lasts up to 5 days, if frozen, 6 months. Once cooked, ham can be refrigerated up to 4 days and frozen for 4 months. Cured ham can be refrigerated up to 7 days and frozen for up to 4 months.
How Long Ham Lasts:
|Ham Type||In the Refrigerator||In the Freezer|
|Uncooked Ham||3-5 days||6 months|
|Cooked Ham||3-4 days||3-4 months|
|Cured Ham||5-7 days||3-4 months|
The freshness of pork depends on several factors. These factors include:
- The type of ham
- How it was prepared
- The temperature and humidity level in storage
- How it is wrapped or contained
- The immediacy taken to store the meat in a refrigerator or a freezer.
The rest of this article will serve as a guide for describing how long each major type of ham can go without spoiling — and how best to store and preserve the different types. So, let’s take a deeper dive into the details on the shelf life of ham.
How Long Will Raw Ham Last?
For clarification purposes, “Raw” ham includes:
- Fresh ham- Also known as an uncured. Raw ham, if it is fresh is simply a leg of pork that has not been cooked yet at any point.
- Cured ham- Ham that is preserved with either salt, potassium nitrate, nitrites, sodium, sugar, phosphates, sodium ascorbate, or other chemical preservatives. Raw cured ham may have been cooked in the process of curing.
But in the case of both fresh and cured ham, it has not been heated cooked at home. They are, therefore, both considered raw.
How Long Uncooked Ham Lasts at Room Temperature
Uncooked ham — fresh and cured — can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. It is not recommended that you leave uncooked meat of any type at room temperature for more than 2 hours, especially if uncured. Chill in the fridge or freeze immediately, if possible.
How Long Uncooked Ham Lasts in the Fridge
- Raw Ham- If ham is raw and uncooked, it will last in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. The temperature in the fridge should be no higher than 40 ° F (4° C), and preferably 34 to 38 ° F (1 to 3 ° C).
- Cured Ham- If the ham is cured, requires cooking before eating, and is uncooked, it will last in the refrigerator 5 to 7 days, or to the “use by” date. It is recommended that you store the ham at no higher than 40 ° F (4° C).
Due to the temperature of fridges varying, I recommend using a Digital Refrigerator Thermometer if you are unsure about temperature and humidity.
How Long Uncooked Ham Lasts in the Freezer
- Raw Ham- Uncooked will last in the freezer for 6 months, at constant temperatures below 0 ° F (-18° C).
- Cured Ham- If the ham is cured, requires cooking before eating, and is uncooked, it will last in the refrigerator 5 to 7 days, or to the “use by” date. It is recommended that you store the ham at no higher than 40 ° F (4° C). This kind of pork will last in the freezer (below 0 ° F (-18° C) for 3 to 4 months.
How Long Will Cooked Ham Last?
Cooked ham can be:
- Fresh cooked (uncured) ham
- Cured ham that has been oven-baked or heated in some fashion.
Usually, after heating, ham is served, and any leftovers are stored in the refrigerator or freezer. The cooked ham may also have been left out at room temperature after heating.
How Long Cooked Ham Lasts at Room Temperature
If ham is cooked and then left out at room temperature, it is still good within two hours. Just keep in mind that at temperatures between 40 to 140 ° F, bacteria can grow rapidly.
After 2 hours, the ham will spoil quickly. It should be thrown away as bacteria can proliferate and render the meat unsafe.
How Long Cooked Ham Lasts in the Fridge
- Uncured Cooked Ham- If ham is fresh or uncured, cooked, and refrigerated within two hours, it will last 3 or 4 days. Keep pork at no higher than 40 ° F (4° C).
- Cured Cooked Ham- If the ham is cured, cooked, and refrigerated within two hours, it will last 5 to 7 days. Refrigerate at no higher than 40 ° F (4° C).
- Smoked Ham- Smoked ham can be refrigerated up to 7 days and frozen for up to 4 months.
- Deli Ham- Unopened, deli can last for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator kept at 40 ° F. Once opened, it will last 3 to 5 days.
How Long Cooked Ham Lasts in the Freezer
- Uncured Cooked Ham- Fresh ham that has been cooked and frozen within two hours will last in the freezer for 3 to 4 months. Keep it under temperatures of 0 ° F (-18° C).
- Cured Cooked Ham- The same kind of cured and cooked ham will last 3 to 4 months if frozen within two hours. Freeze consistently at 0 ° F (-18° C).
How Long Thawed Ham Will Last
If you are thawing frozen ham that has already been cooked, it will last 3 to 4 days if thawed in the refrigerator. If the frozen cooked ham was thawed in the microwave or thawed using cold water, it should be eaten as soon as possible.
How Long Can You Eat Ham After the Sell-by Date?
As per the USDA, it is not recommended that ham be consumed after the use-by date. However, if you have frozen your ham then it may be safe to consume well after the use-by date. Even so, you will want to use common sense and inspect it carefully before consuming.
How To Tell If Ham Has Gone Bad
Here are some ways to tell if your ham has gone bad:
- Color- Uncooked ham is usually a light pink to beige color. If it is green, black, brown, gray, or is moldy, it has spoiled. Cooked ham, if spoiled, will also have a dull appearance, and its color will have gone from light pink to gray.
- Smell- Uncooked ham should not smell rotten or rancid. If it does, it has spoiled and should be thrown out.
- Texture- For cooked ham, if it has a slimy texture or is sour-smelling, it has gone bad.
How To Properly Store Ham
Ultimately, the shelf life of ham will depend a lot on whether or not it is stored correctly. The most important key is to use airtight storage and freeze it if you don’t plan to consume it in the next few days.
The Best Way To Store Raw Ham
To store raw ham in the refrigerator, store at temperatures between 34 and 38 0 ° F and in the fridge’s coldest area. If it is cured and packaged, it should be okay within its expiration date.
If it is fresh (uncured) and in the refrigerator, try to leave it in its original packaging. If it leaks, try to wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or in an airtight container or bag. The idea is to cover ham tightly, exposing it to as little air as possible. However, the sooner it is cooked, the better. If it shows signs of spoiling, throw it away.
Freezing raw ham should be done as soon as possible. It is possible to leave fresh pork in its original packaging, but even better to wrap it tightly in freezer wrap, a freezer-safe container, or freezer-safe bag. Use a double layer of wrap to prevent air and moisture from entering. Again, keep at a constant temperature below 0 ° F.
The Best Way To Store Cooked Ham
To store cooked ham in the refrigerator, store within two hours of cooking. Use shallow airtight containers. Alternately, wrap tightly with heavy-duty foil or freezer wrap.
To store cooked ham in the freezer, store within two hours of cooking. Wrap tightly with freezer wrap or a freezer-safe container—place in a freezer with a consistent temperature of zero degrees Fahrenheit or less.
Helpful Related Products
For your convenience, here are a few products mentioned in this post:
- Airtight Containers
- Freezer-Safe Containers
- Freezer-Safe Bags
- Food Storage Labels
- Digital Refrigerator Thermometer
If you are like me, you probably tend to buy meat based on what happens to be priced the best at the current moment. This can lead to buying a bit too much of any one type of meat. Last month, for me it was ham. In fact, I ended up buying a deep freezer so that I could fit all of it into storage.
No matter what your reason for wondering about how long ham lasts, I really appreciate you stopping by for awhile. And, if you happen to be in the market for long term emergency food solutions, I recommend My Patriot Supply.