How long is cooked ham good for?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how long is cooked ham good for” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of a cooked ham when kept in the fridge, freezer, and at room temperature. Moreover, we are going to discuss whether or not store-bought cooked ham is safe to eat past its “best by” date and if or not you can refrigerate the reheated cooked ham.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

How long is cooked ham good for?

When it comes to cooked ham, its shelf life depends upon several factors including how it was cooked and how it is stored.

When kept in the fridge

  1. Fresh, uncured, cooked ham lasts for 3-5 days in the fridge if stored in an air-tight container or plastic zipper bag at approximately 40°F or below. 
  2. Cooked, store-wrapped whole ham lasts for about a week in the fridge if stored at approximately 40°F or below. 
  3. Cooked, vacuum-sealed, unopened ham lasts for “use-by” date written on the package when stored properly in the fridge.
  4. Cooked country ham lasts for about a week in the fridge if stored in an air-tight container or plastic zipper bag at approximately 40°F or below. 
  5. Fresh, uncured, cooked ham lasts for 3-4 days in the fridge if stored at approximately 40°F or below. 

You can read how to make brown sugar mustard glazed ham here.

When kept in the freezer

  1. Fresh, uncured, cooked ham lasts for 3-4 months in the freezer if stored in an air-tight container or plastic zipper bag at approximately 40°F or below. 
  2. Cooked, store-wrapped whole ham lasts for about 1-2 months in the freezer if stored at approximately 40°F or below. 
  3. Cooked, vacuum-sealed, unopened ham lasts for 1-2 months when stored properly in the freezer.
  4. Cooked country ham lasts for about 1 month in the freezer if stored in an air-tight container or plastic zipper bag at approximately 40°F or below. 
  5. Fresh, uncured, cooked ham lasts for 1-2 months in the freezer if stored at approximately 40°F or below.

It is worth mentioning that these figures are just the estimated shelf life of the cooked ham and you can enjoy the best quality of cooked ham within this time. Cooked ham can last for longer than this, provided that it is stored properly. 

When kept at room temperature

Cooked ham lasts for about 2 hours when kept at room temperature. You should discard the cooked ham that has been left in open for more than 2 hours as bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40°F and 140°F, therefore there are greater chances of the cooked ham being already contaminated with bacteria when left out for more than 2 hours.

Is store-bought cooked ham safe to use after the best-before date?

The “best by” or “best before” date that is written on the package of store-bought cooked ham refers to the quality rather than safety so the cooked ham doesn’t necessarily go bad immediately after the best before date. 

This date refers to the time during which you can enjoy the peak quality and flavor of cooked ham but you can still use ham that is past this date as long as it was stored properly and there is no mold, off-smell, or off-flavor in it.

How can I freeze cooked ham?

Freezing cooked ham is simple. All you have to do is to take a plastic freezer bag or heavy-duty freezer container and put your cooked ham into it. Afterward, place it in the freezer. It is worth mentioning that you should let your homemade cooked ham cool thoroughly before putting it in the plastic freezer bag or heavy-duty freezer container.

The same goes for refrigeration because if you store hot cooked ham in the plastic zipper bag or air-tight container, moisture will build up inside it that will provide a suitable environment for bacteria to grow.  

Can I refrigerate the reheated cooked ham?

Once you have reheated your refrigerated or frozen cooked ham, you should never refrigerate it again. 

The reason behind this is that when you heat the previously refrigerated or frozen cooked ham, its temperature rises from 40 degrees Fahrenheit and that is the suitable temperature for bacteria to grow, thereby bacteria can grow at a faster pace and you should never refrigerate such cooked ham again.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “how long is cooked ham good for” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of a cooked ham when kept in the fridge, freezer, and at room temperature. Moreover, we discussed whether or not store-bought cooked ham is safe to eat past its “best by” date and if or not you can refrigerate the reheated cooked ham.

Citations

https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/17375

https://www.doesitgobad.com/ham-go-bad/

Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.

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