Can you freeze ham? Some people buy raw, uncured ham, others packaged and fully cooked or fully cooked and packaged ham slices. The question that is common for those people is whether or not they can freeze ham. Short answer to this question is: yes, you can freeze ham, cooked or uncooked, packaged or not, sliced or whole. The only situation when you shouldn’t freeze ham is when it’s canned and it’s still unopened. Once you open the can, you can always take the meat and freeze it (not in the can though). There are, however, few things about freezing ham you probably should know.
About freezing ham
It’s said that freezing affects the quality of the meat and that the meat won’t be that great after thawing. It’s only half-true – if you’ll wrap your shaved or whole ham properly, chances are it’ll be perfectly fine once thawed.
Here’s few things you should remember about freezing and thawing ham:
- The longer you plan to keep the ham in the freezer, the better it should be wrapped
- Thaw ham in the fridge and make sure you put it on a plate (there will be some moisture)
- It’s recommended to freeze cooked ham for up to 2 months and uncooked ham for up to 6 months
- Instead of wrapping the ham, it’s better to vacuum pack it (if you have the equipment)
Image used under Creative Commons from jeffreyw
Of course you can keep ham in the freezer forever, but its quality will change after a certain amount of time. That’s why if you plan to freeze ham for more than 2 months, I suggest you should buy uncooked ham, freeze it and then, after thawing it when you need it, cook it yourself. Besides that, many people decide to buy uncooked ham simply because it’s cheaper for them to buy it and cook it on their own.
Freezing sliced ham
This way is the best if you would like to thaw only a few slices at a time. If you’ve got a whole, cooked ham, cut it into slices of preferred thickness. Now divide the slices into several packages and wrap tightly (that’s very important, so make sure it’s really tightly wrapped!) each package (of one or more slices) with aluminium foil or freezer foil. If you plan to keep those packages for more than a month, it’s a good idea to put them into freezer bags or airtight containers (bags are better because you can squeeze all the air out of them) to reduce freezer burn even more. Make sure to label the package, bags or container before you put it into the freezer.
Freezing whole ham
If you’d like to freeze whole ham instead of slicing it into convenient chunks, it can be done as well. If the ham is in its original package and you don’t plan to keep it in the freezer for long (more than a month, maybe a little more), you can put it straight into the freezer. If you’d like to freeze it for longer, wrap it with a layer or two of heavy-duty aluminum foil or put into a freezer bag (remember to squeeze out all the air that’s inside the bag). If the package is opened, make sure you wrap the ham very tightly with aluminum foil or freezer wrap. If you plan to keep it in the freezer for an extended period of time, wrap it with regular foil first or transfer into a freezer bag after wrapping with aluminum foil.
Ham can be frozen and many people freeze it on regular basis. It’s not that difficult to do – you just need some aluminum foil (or freezer wrap) and an airtight container or freezer bags for prolonged storage. Of course if you have the ability to vacuum-seal the package, it’s even better, because food always freezes better when it’s vacuum-sealed. When it comes to freezing ham, just remember it needs to be wrapped very tightly, so it won’t suffer from the cold that much.