How To Store Spam After Opening | Keeping Canned Meat Fresh


It’s not uncommon to have leftover spam. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to reseal the can so figuring out how to keep it fresh is a common question.

Here are four tips on how to store Spam after opening the can:

  1. Keep in the refrigerator.
  2. Store in an airtight container. 
  3. Mark the date on the container.
  4. Freeze if for longer storage.

If you love Spam but aren’t sure what to do with your leftovers, read on. By the time you finish this article, you’ll have Spam-storage down to a science. 

1. Keep Opened Spam in the Refrigerator

The “Best By” date printed on the bottom of a Spam can – generally 2-5 years after the date of purchase – is Hormel’s recommendation for how long the Spam will be at its peak flavor and texture. 

That said, while it may not be as tasty, Spam, like other canned goods, will remain nutritious and safe to eat well past the sell-by date. 

So long as the can is intact, Spam has a very long shelf life. But what happens after you open the can? 

Do You Have To Refrigerate Spam After Opening?

The sodium nitrite found in Spam, and many other types of cured meat, discourages bacterial growth, as does the high quantity of salt. However, Spam is also made with potato starch, ground pork, and sugar, all of which act as a banquet for bacteria.

You must refrigerate Spam after you open the can. Canning kills bacteria through the application of heat, after which the Spam is sealed in a can where no other germs can get to it. Opening the can exposes the Spam to bacteria whose growth can only be slowed by low temperatures.

2. Store Opened Spam in an Airtight Container

Contrary to popular belief, airtight containers do little to keep out bacteria: the air inside the container holds as much bacteria per cubic centimeter as the air in the refrigerator. 

But while airtight containers may not help with bacteria, they do a good job keeping in humidity. The air inside your refrigerator is very dry. If left exposed in your fridge, your Spam will soon become rubbery and thoroughly unappetizing.

Airtight containers also keep out strong smells that may be in your refrigerator, ensuring your Spam doesn’t take on the smell and taste of those onions you forgot in the crisper.  

Wrapping your Spam in plastic serves much the same purpose as airtight containers, but the wrapping can hold bacteria next to the meat and encourage growth. You can wind up with Spam that looks fresh, only to discover otherwise after eating it.

If you’re looking for new containers for your Spam, I recommend these airtight food storage containers. These are made with food-grade plastic and are BPA-free. Additionally, since the pack comes with 22 containers, you’ll have more than enough for all your Spam, as well as all the other leftovers you need to store.

3. Mark the Date on Your Container

Once your Spam container is opened, you have begun a race against decay. The cold confines of a refrigerator will slow that process. Left out at room temperature, Spam (and other perishables) will become host to unsafe bacteria levels within as little as two hours. Refrigeration can slow that process considerably, but it cannot stop it.

By marking your Spam and other food containers, you ensure that you will not accidentally eat items that have been stored too long and which may no longer be safe to eat. 

How Long Does Opened Spam Last in the Fridge?

Hormel recommends that you eat your Spam within 3-5 days once opened. But Spam, like other cured meats, will stay edible (if not at its best taste and texture) for 7-10 days in the refrigerator. 

Does Spam Ever Go Bad?

Spam can go bad even before you open it. If your Spam can is leaking or bulging, the seal has been breached, and bacteria have begun growing inside. Once opened, Spam will go bad as quickly as any other cured meat.

What Does Spoiled Spam Look Like?

If your refrigerated Spam has fuzzy mold patches or is a tan, brown, or grey-green color instead of bright pink, you should discard it. Spoiled Spam may also have a slimy texture caused by bacterial biofilms and the distinctive pungent odor of rotting meat. 

But be advised that Spam (and other spoiled foods) can also harbor unsafe levels of germs without any visual cues or nasty smells. If you’re not sure how long that Spam has been in your refrigerator, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw it out. 

4. For Longer Storage, Freeze Your Spam

Refrigerating your opened Spam will buy you a few extra days before it goes bad. But what if you want to keep your Spam around longer? 

Fear not! 

If you have space in your freezer, you can store your Spam safely for months – or longer.

In 2020 Spam launched a trial marketing run of frozen breaded Spam patties. These Panko-covered delicacies went on sale in Hawaii, California, and Nevada and were offered in a few select restaurants. While the launch failed to spark national interest in frozen Spam patties, it proved that you can, indeed, store Spam in your freezer.

Can You Freeze Opened Spam?

You can freeze opened Spam in freezer-safe bags or airtight containers. Properly stored, your Spam will stay at its best quality for three months or so. While it may lose some taste and texture if stored for longer, it will remain safe indefinitely as long as it is kept at 0°F (-18°C). 

Long Term Storage of Spam (How To Do It)

a can of spam

Before you put your Spam in the freezer, cut it into slices. Put single-serving portions in freezer-safe baggies, then put each baggie in your freezer. 

This will make your life much easier when you take your Spam out of the freezer, as you won’t have to cut through a solid, frozen lump of meat.

Frozen food should be kept at no higher than 0°F (-18°C), and freezer temperatures of -10°F to -20°F (-23.33°C to -28.88°C) are even better for long-term storage. 

However, the freezer at the top of your fridge is often set to a considerably higher temperature. If you can scoop your ice cream without straining your wrist, your freezer is likely closer to 10-20°F (-12 to -7°C ). 

The issue with this is that every 5°F (-15 °C) increase in temperature cuts the safe freezer storage time in half.

Additionally, during freezer storage, the water in your food becomes ice crystals which migrate to the surface and sublimate into the air. This makes patches of the food tough, dehydrated, and leathery with “freezer burn.” The warmer your freezer, the larger the ice crystals, and the quicker your stored food will become freezer burnt.

If you want to store Spam or other foods for long periods, like me, you may want to invest in a chest freezer like this one. Chest freezers like this one are built for long-term storage. They have heavier insulation and more cooling coils, so they get cold faster and stay cold longer.

Once you defrost your Spam, the clock starts ticking again. If you defrost your Spam in the refrigerator, you can leave it in there for another 3-4 days. If you do a quick defrost in the microwave or by soaking in water, you should eat your Spam immediately.  

Key Takeaways

Over 133 million tins of Hormel’s Spam sustained GIs and Pacific Islanders during World War II when fresh meat and refrigeration were both hard to come by. When in its can, Spam can be stored on a shelf for years. But how do you store Spam after opening?

Spam was designed for long-term storage, but it will spoil quickly after opening unless you take measures to preserve it. Keep your Spam refrigerated, and you can enjoy it for several days after opening. Keep your Spam frozen, and it will be good for months.

I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for reading!

For more, check out Is Spam a Good Survival Food?

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

Related Articles