How Long Does Cooked Ham Last In The Fridge?
Few foods offer as much comfort and flavor as a baked ham. It’s a delicious treat for the whole family and can be used in a wide variety of ways. Of course, there are always going to be leftovers because a single ham is downright massive. But, how long can that delicious pig part last in a fridge before it goes bad?
Cooked ham can last up to 5 days if it is whole, but it may only last 3-4 days if it is uncured or sliced. You make a whole cooked ham last 1-2 months if you freeze it in its wrapping. Cooked ham can last up to 1 week in the fridge if you don’t remove the wrapping.
Pork is one of those meats that you can’t mess around with. If you just bought a fresh ham for the ‘fam, then you need to know when it’s time to toss out the rest. This guide will give you a better understanding of how to handle this tricky meat.
What’s The Longest Homecooked Ham Can Stay In The Fridge?
If your ham is cooked and uncured, the absolute longest that it can stay safe to eat is five days, though food experts increasingly advise three days instead. If your ham is cured, then it has undergone a preservation process using salt to prolong its shelf life. This will give you an additional three days or so, bringing your max lifespan to a total of seven days.
When we mean “homecooked,” we mean that you were the one to put it in the oven. With other types of ham, you will have slightly (or vastly) different expiration dates.
How Long Does Store-Bought Cooked Ham Can Stay In The Fridge?
Let’s say that you picked up a large ham that was cooked by a company, vacuum-sealed, and shipped out to your grocery store. Delicious choice, but does it work with the same rules as homecooked ham? Not quite. Here’s what you need to know:
- Store-bought cooked ham that was vacuum-sealed at the plant should be eaten by the “use by” date. If you freeze it, you’ll have one to two months.
- A whole cooked ham that was cooked and wrapped in-store will last a week. If you freeze this whole ham, you have one to two months.
- A cooked ham that has been cut in half and wrapped in-store will last up to five days. It’s best to read the label to find out how much time you have.
- Spiral-sliced store-cooked ham will only last five days. Like other ham products, it’ll last a month or two in the freezer.
Special Cases: Expiration Times Of Specialty Hams
Ham’s a bit unusual when it comes to calculating out the expiration date, simply because of one major feature. The interesting thing about ham is that it’s a cut of meat that can be made into a wide range of different products, including some that are relatively rare. Each of these products will have a different expiration date. To make things easier, we’re just going to break it down into canned and special products.
If you’re a fan of canned ham, you already know that the package might instruct you to refrigerate after opening. Sometimes, it’ll even tell you to keep it refrigerated before you open it too. Canned ham will last six to nine months in the fridge if it’s labeled “Keep Refrigerated.” You shouldn’t freeze this type of canned ham.
People who opened up a can of shelf-stable ham can only keep it around for two weeks in the fridge. If you already opened the can, you can freeze the contents for an additional two months.
Gourmet Ham Products
Do you love prosciutto? Maybe you’re a foodie who enjoys serrano ham with your eggs in the morning? If so, these cured ham cuts have a longer shelf life. In a refrigerator, these products can last up to three months depending on the specific style of meat. If you freeze them, you will actually reduce the shelf life to a single month. Go figure.
Lunch Meat Ham
Love your Lunchables? I can’t blame ya, but you still need to know how long you have before you need to toss it out. Like spiral-sliced ham, lunch meat ham has a maximum fridge life of five days after opening. Before you open up that package, you have a total of two weeks before it goes bad.
Oddly enough, you can freeze lunchmeat ham if you want to maximize your food’s lifespan. If frozen, you can have your lunchmeat edible for one to two months.
Country Cured Ham
A cooked country ham will last for a week in your refrigerator once it’s cooked. If you aren’t sure if it’s a country ham, think of “The Honeybaked Ham” type of meals. This will last two months in the freezer.
Unlike most other types of ham, country cured ham does NOT go bad if it has mold growth. Sometimes, mold is a byproduct of the curing style here. Though it doesn’t mean your ham is bad, you still shouldn’t eat the mold. If you see mold on your country ham, take a knife and scrape it away before you continue to prep it or eat it.
How Do You Keep Ham Safe To Eat?
Ham, like all other pork, is not safe to eat raw. It’s obvious that you need to cook it. However, that’s not all you should be aware of when you’re preparing ham. These guidelines will help you keep your food safe:
- If your ham is raw, it needs to be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the bare minimum needed to keep your ham edible.
- Cooked, vacuum-packed hams can be eaten cold. There is no need to reheat them, but it’s considered to be good practice. If you want to reheat your ham, set your oven to 325 degrees at a minimum and cook it until the internal temperature of the ham is 140 degrees. This kills off any bacteria that could have grown during the ham’s time in bacteria-friendly temperatures.
- Spiral-sliced ham can be eaten without being reheated, but most other types of ham require heating prior to ingestion. If you have “deli cuts” of ham, then you won’t necessarily have to heat them up. To find out whether reheating is mandatory, read the food labels.
- Do not leave ham at room temperature for more than two hours. Two hours is all it takes for bacteria to turn your ham into a food hazard.
- If you’re cooking a country ham, you can soak it in water for four to 12 hours in the fridge to help remove the salt. Once that’s done, you can choose to continue your cooking by either boiling or baking the ham. It’s best to follow manufacturer instructions.
What Are The Worst Pathogens That Can Affect Your Ham?
Like most other foods, ham is prone to mold. However, it also happens to be at risk of growing a pathogen known as trichinae. These parasites can exist in a wide range of animals but are most frequently found in pigs. To kill them off, you need to cook the ham thoroughly prior to eating it.
Trichinae are a risk, sure, but there are other issues that can turn your ham foul. The other major pathogen that you want to avoid is staphylococcus aureus. This type of staph can be found on the surface of hams, and curing isn’t always able to kill it off. This is why refrigeration is so important for most ham products.
What’s the longest you can store shelf-stable canned ham at room temperature?
Canned ham is one of the only types of ham where adding cold actually can decrease your ham’s lifespan. If you have an unopened can of ham that’s designed to be shelf-stable and pantry-friendly, it can stay that way for up to two years and still be edible. The best way to figure out your ham’s shelf life, of course, is to read the label.
Is it safe to eat ham every day?
Though you can still get some vital nutrition from ham and keep your ham safe to eat through proper storage methods, ham might not be the best thing for your diet. Studies suggest that eating a single slice of ham per day can lead to increased rates of cancer. However, these studies have not been entirely vetted and should be taken with a grain of salt.
Can you eat prosciutto right out of the package?
With most types of ham, eating something straight from the package will get you sick. Prosciutto is different since it’s considered to be a “ready to eat” type of ham.
Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.
More by Ossiana Tepfenhart