Ham is an ideal food to have around during the holidays. You can typically buy it already sliced, and simply heat it up for your family. It is a surefire way to feed a lot of people at once, with little maintenance involved. So what if that ham you bought just wasn’t as popular as you expected it to be? Is it okay to put it in the freezer and save it for another day.
What if you bought it frozen and thawed it to serve to your family? Can you freeze it again after the fact? Yes, you can refreeze ham as long as you refreeze the ham within three days of initial thaw. We recommend that you do not refreeze ham that has been stored at room temperature for more than two hours.
It is okay to freeze ham, it is just important to follow a few steps to make sure that it is stored properly. It is also okay to refreeze ham after it has been thawed but it is important to refreeze it within three days of the initial thaw. Also, never freeze ham that has sat out at room temperature for longer than two hours.
Steps for Freezing Ham
- Remove extra moisture from the ham by using a paper towel.
- Use a freezer bag and place the entire ham into it, removing as much air from the bag as possible.
- Wrap aluminum foil around the freezer bag to provide an additional seal.
- Label the outside of the foil using a permanent marker, with the date.
Some people might want to freeze the entire ham or others might prefer to freeze smaller portions of the ham. Slicing up the ham before freezing makes sense because it allows you to thaw out smaller portions at a time, rather than having to thaw the entire ham and later refreeze it.
To properly freeze small portions of ham, use a sharp knife to slice the ham. Place the sliced ham in the refrigerator to cool completely. Once fully cooled, it is ready to be frozen. Portion the sliced ham into freezer bags and store with as little air as possible left in the bag.
How to Thaw/Reheat Ham
It is important to follow a couple of steps to safely thaw your frozen ham. In order to properly thaw the ham, place it in the refrigerator. Depending on the size, it could take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to thaw entirely. One important tip is to not thaw your ham on the counter at room temperature.
The best way to thaw ham is to thaw it in the fridge but it can also be thawed in the microwave or in cold water. To thaw in the microwave, set your microwave to the defrost or to the lowest heat setting. Depending on the size of the ham it could be thawed in the microwave in 15 minutes or it could take up to 45 minutes for a larger ham.
To thaw ham in cold water, simply place it into a sealable plastic bag. Make sure it is sealed tightly. Submerge the ham in cold water and let it sit for 30 minutes per pound. Change the water out every 30 minutes to make sure that the ham stays cold. When thawed in cold water it is not recommended that a ham be refrozen. If thawed in the refrigerator, ham can be refrozen.
To reheat an already cooked ham, you can start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees. Place on a pan and heat in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes per pound. So the overall time will vary depending on the size of the ham. Be sure to use a meat thermometer and heat the ham to an internal temperature of 140 degrees.
You can also use a slow cooker to reheat a ham. Simply place the ham in your slow cooker and cook on low for 5 to 8 hours or until thoroughly heated. Once heated thoroughly, glaze the ham and broil it in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
How to Tell if Ham has Gone Bad
The shelf life of ham in the freezer varies depending on the type of ham. Fresh, uncured and uncooked ham is okay to stay in the freezer for up to 6 months. Fresh, uncured and cooked ham is good in the freezer for 3 to 4 months.
When it comes to refrigerating ham, it has a much shorter shelf life. Ham only stays good in the refrigerator for about 3 to 5 days, so it is important to eat it shortly after buying it.
The best way to tell if a ham has gone bad is by smelling it. If it doesn’t smell or look right, it has probably gone bad. Look for any type of discoloration or change in color and consistency. If the ham has gone bad it may have a slimy texture or it may have a dull or greyish tone.
Yes, it is okay to refreeze ham if it was initially thawed in the refrigerator. If you thawed the ham in cold water, it is not recommended to refreeze it. If you want to get the most out of the ham that you’re making, it will probably be best to eat it while it is fresh rather than refreezing it. After being thawed and refrozen there is a good chance that the ham could lose some of its quality such as the flavor and moisture.
Pay close attention to the ham that you have on hand to make sure that it has not gone bad. Remember, ham is only good in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days once thawed but it can stay good in the freezer for up to 6 months, depending on the type of ham and whether or not it is cooked.
Sometimes it is just more practical to freeze your ham and thaw it when you need it. If you can slice the ham before freezing it, it may make it easier to avoid refreezing and sacrificing the quality.
Most importantly, pay attention to the color and smell of the ham and if something seems off, don’t eat it.