How To

How long does ham last in the fridge?

Christmas ham truly is the food gift that keeps on giving. As long as you follow a few important steps, you will be enjoying your ham for weeks or even months, if you opt to freeze it.
Glazed ham on a board with slices missingPHOTOGRAPHY by CON POULOS STYLING by MICHELE CRANSTON PHOTOCHEF: DIXIE ELLIOTT

Christmas Day is done and dusted, and now you’re wondering ‘how long does ham last in the fridge?’ Use these tips to get the most from your leftover ham.

Carve to the crowd size

Unless you have a huge crowd of people present at your gathering, in relation to the size of your ham, it is advised to carve only a portion of it at the start, then carve more as required. Your ham will stay fresher that bit longer if kept on the bone or in large pieces.

The type of ham you’ve prepared and whether it is sliced, in large chunks or still on the bone will determine how long it can be stored safely in the fridge.

If you have space in the fridge, store the ham on the bone, otherwise carve the meat into the largest chunks possible, removing all garnishes.

Ham on the bone

To stop ham on the bone from drying out, rinse a purpose-made ham bag, clean pillowcase or tea towel in a mixture of 2 cups white vinegar and 2 litres water, then allow it to dry before wrapping the whole ham in the fabric and refrigerating. You will need to wash the bag, pillowcase or tea towel every 2-3 days with a splash of vinegar in the water then dry and use again. Stored like this your ham will last for up to 2 weeks.

Large pieces of leftover ham

Large pieces of ham can be wrapped in foil and plastic wrap and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up 2 weeks. Slice and use in our ultimate ham and cheese toasties or cut up chunks for fried rice or toss through a pasta salads and you’ve got the holiday season sorted.

Leftover ham slices

To store carved ham slices, place a piece of paper towel in the base of an airtight container and arrange the ham slices on top. Place a second folded piece of paper towel on top, then seal the container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. With a little leftover ham recipe inspo you’ll be impressed by how inventive you can be with your leftover ham.

Keep it cold

The temperature of your fridge is important, ideally 4°C to slow bacterial growth. If your fridge is packed as it often can be at this time of year, be mindful that this can increase the temperature, as will frequently opening and closing the door, and potentially reduce its shelf life.

How to freeze ham?

To freeze ham pieces or slices, place in a freezer-proof container, label and date and store for up to 3 months. Thaw ham in the fridge and use up with in 2-3 days in ham sandwiches

It is unlikely you will be thinking about soup in the height of summer, however, freezing the ham bone is your ticket to a flavoursome soup come wintertime. Use the bone to make a ham stock, which makes a great soup base, or add the bone directly to a soup to impart a smoky ham-y flavour (just go easy on the salt). Remove the bone and shred off any remaining pieces of meat. Now that really is a gift.

Related stories