How To Freeze Ham
Ham can be frozen no matter what type of ham you have. Sliced, Cooked, Uncooked, On the bone or smoked! A ham joint freezes just as well as pre-sliced and packaged hams you buy from the deli counter although some will have better results than others.
Very thinly sliced hams such as smoked prosciutto don’t freeze quite as well as joints or other types of ham but freezing can increase the shelf life of any ham considerably so if you have too much leftover ham then freezing it is well worth the time and effort.
For best results and to make life easier than prepping your ham before freezing is the best way to go and you can easily do so by following these instructions.
- Slice the Ham
The best way to freeze ham is to cook and slice it. This makes it much easier to defrost when you want to thaw it out and use it. You can even just defrost the number of slices you need for your recipe or sandwiches. So step one is to slice your ham. Thicker slices tend to thaw out more successfully so slice your ham into thick slices using a sharp knife.
- Layer Ham
Layer ham slices in a container. Slip a piece of parchment paper between each slice. Adding parchment paper will avoid your slices of ham sticking together in the freezer and makes it easier to grab a slice or two out at a time while the ham is frozen.
- Seal Container
If using a freezer bag, squeeze out any air in the freezer bag and seal it tightly. For extra protection, you can add a second bag to make sure no air can get to the ham. If you’re using a container then seal with the lid.
Mark the bag with the date using a permanent marker so you know when to use your ham by. It is really important to not keep the ham in the freezer for too long or it can start to go bad.
Pop the ham into the freezer, keeping it flat as much as possible while it is freezing. Keeping it flat makes it easier to defrost at a later date and also makes it much easier to work with.
How to Freeze Ham Hock
A good ham hock can be frozen just as well as any other type of ham. You can freeze it cooked and sliced following the method we mentioned above or you can freeze it as a joint before it has been cooked.
To freeze ham hock uncooked you need to make sure that it is either still in the packaging you bought it in and that it has been unopened or you need to wrap it well with cling film and pop it in a freezer bag to make sure it is sealed before freezing.
Just don’t forget to write the date on the packaging before you put it in the freezer. You will need to know when to use your joint by.
3 Tips for Freezing Ham
Now you know how to freeze it, we’ve got our 3 top tips which we strongly recommend following when freezing ham to have the best results:
- Keep it Airtight – Air is the enemy of ham in the freezer. Air will dry the ham out and ruin the texture. Instead, make sure it is stored in an airtight container.
- Use Parchment Paper – If you freeze ham slices together then they will stick to one another making it near impossible to grab a slice or two at a time. Instead, make sure you place a sheet of parchment or greaseproof paper between each slice to prevent this from happening.
- Slice Thickly – If you can keep the slices of ham nice and thick, there is a reduced risk of them drying out. Thicker slices tend to thaw better too with far less change to their texture.
How Long Can You Freeze Ham?
When freezing any food one thing you need to be absolutely sure of is how long you can keep it frozen. Different foods have different lengths of times they can be frozen before the food starts to deteriorate.
When it comes to ham, how long you can freeze it depends on how you froze it in the first place.
Uncooked ham has the longest shelf life in the freezer and you can keep it frozen for up to six months.
Cooked ham will last for about three months frozen before the taste and texture will start to deteriorate.
Any pork product is one to be careful of when freezing and thawing so make sure you follow the instructions and don’t eat any ham you think might have been left out too long or shows signs of spoiling.
If you are looking for signs of spoiling then check the ham for any change in colour, including going brown, green or grey. Ham should always be pink, whether it’s cooked or uncooked.
You Can Freeze Uncooked Ham for Around 6 Months
How Do You Defrost Ham?
When it comes to defrosting and using your ham you have two methods to choose from that should result in safely thawed out ham.
Method one is the best both for taste and safety and that is to take your ham out plenty of time before you want to use it and pop it on a plate in the fridge. This allows the ham to defrost slowly. How long this takes will depend on how thick your ham slices or chunks are.
A small portion can take up to six hours so if you have a lot of ham to defrost make sure you allow plenty of time for it to defrost thoroughly before you cook. Cooking partially thawed ham can make you sick so be careful.
Method two is a slightly quicker method but it is one to use with care. Submerge your packets of ham in a bowl of cold water. Make sure your packet is leak proof. U
sing cold tap water works absolutely fine and you need to change the water in the bowl every thirty minutes. This is quicker but you should still expect the ham to take a while to defrost. Allow approximately 30 minutes for every pound of ham.
Can You Refreeze Ham?
Once you have frozen ham and then defrosted it you should never refreeze it.
The optimum time that food has time for bacteria to grow is at the point it is being cooled or being warmed so the more times you repeat this cooling and warming process, the more time there is for harmful bacteria to grow.
Does Ham Freeze Well?
As long as you are careful ham freezes well and you won’t even notice the difference between a frozen slice of ham and a fresh and it is a great way to stop any leftovers going to waste.
Freezing ham is also a great way of getting prepared in advance of any special occasion. You can cook and freeze ham joints and slices a few days ahead of your celebration and defrost the day before for delicious ham, perfectly cooked.
One thing to always be careful of when dealing with ham or pork products of any kind is that they can contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. So, you should always take care when it comes to cooking, freezing and thawing out your ham.
If you’ve still got questions about freezing ham or ham in general, then these may help:
Can You Freeze Packet Ham?
Packet ham or sliced ham is really easy to freeze, especially if it hasn’t been opened and is still sealed. All you need to do is write the date on the packet with a permanent marker so you know when you need to use up the ham and pop it in the freezer! It really is that easy.
If you have opened your packet of ham then you do need to make sure it is airtight before freezing by putting portions into a freezer bag before putting it into the freezer. For opened ham packets follow the instructions outlined above to freeze your ham successfully.
Can You Freeze Parma Ham?
Parma ham is one of the types of ham that doesn’t freeze particularly well. It is a slice of delicate meat cut very finely and as such it can get stuck together into a lump when freezing.
This is a type of cured ham that also keeps for long periods of time in the fridge so check the dates and instructions on the ham. You might find that you don’t need to freeze it at all.
If you do find that you need to freeze parma ham or prosciutto ham then the best way to freeze it is to freeze it in its original packaging before it has been opened. This will give you the highest chance of successful freezing and storing.
Can You Freeze Serrano Ham?
Serrano ham has very similar properties to parma ham so what we have outlined above rings true for serrano ham. Essentially, it will keep for a long period in the fridge and if you can avoid freezing it then this is the best approach to take.
Can You Freeze Salami?
Salami is another type of cured meat. With it being cured, the shelf life is quite extensive. You can extend it further by vacuum packing leftovers. For this reason, we would recommend not freezing it.