Ham is a popular food choice for any time of the year, but it is especially loved around the holiday season.
The beauty of ham is that you can pair it with almost anything, so it’s a great choice when you’re looking for something that the whole family will enjoy.
But usually, when the ham is cooked, even with a small army of people, there’s always some meat left over. It always feels like such a waste to just throw it out… but have you tried freezing it?
In this article, we’ll be going over everything you need to know about freezing ham, both in its whole form and in slices, so you can enjoy it without worrying about wasting it. So let’s get started!
Can You Freeze Ham?
So, can you freeze ham? The short answer is yes! You can!
When you put cooked ham in your refrigerator, it only lasts about 5 days before it spoils, but having ham for 5 days in a row can get quite tedious, no matter how nice it is.
This is why freezing your ham is a much better idea. Not only does it last for much longer, but it will be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
You do have to thaw it out properly before you can eat it, but we will be going over how you can do that a bit later.
As long as you follow the instructions we’ve provided, you’ll be able to freeze your ham and make sure that when it comes round to reheating it, it will still retain its beautiful flavor!
Let’s start with how to freeze whole ham. This is usually how ham is served in the first place. If you know how to freeze a whole ham, you can freeze it in any other form too.
Before you start freezing it, you need to make sure that it is cool, so place it in the fridge for a little while first.
- Once it is cool, wrap the whole ham in freezer paper or aluminum foil.
- Get an air-tight container or a freezer-safe bag, put the ham inside, and seal it tightly.
- To keep track of how long it’s been in the freezer, put the date you froze it on the container or freezer-safe bag.
- You can then put your ham in the freezer and it can be kept there for up to 12 months!
Though you can keep it for 12 months, it’s advised to eat it within 6 months, as this is when it will taste the best. You also don’t have to label the ham if you don’t want to, but this will definitely help you keep track of when it is about to go off.
Another popular way that ham is eaten is in slices. Usually, after a whole ham has been enjoyed, the remainder is cut up into slices to be enjoyed for sandwiches.
If you plan on making some at some point, but you want to freeze the slices first, then this method is foolproof and you’ll be using it again and again.
- First, slice up the ham to your desired thickness and size.
- To save time when it comes to serving later, separate the hame into portions.
- Now you will want to get a freezer-safe bag or a vacuum-sealed bag. Put the ham slices in and make sure you squeeze out any air before you seal it.
- Finally, add the date to your bag and put it in the freezer.
Like the whole ham, ham slices can last in the freezer for up to 12 months, but it is advised that you eat them within 6 months.
How To Use Cooked Ham
Now that you have an abundance of ham to work with, you’re probably wondering how you can use it. There are so many different ways you can use cooked ham, it really depends on how creative you want to be with it!
Ham is such a versatile food and there are so shortages of ways you can use it. Have a look at these examples if you’re looking for some inspiration:
- Two things that ham pairs incredibly well with are chicken and cheese. The cheese makes both the ham and chicken taste amazingly creamy and there are plenty of dishes that use all three ingredients.
- Ham is also a great choice if you want to add some extra flavor to your soup. Cut up the ham into chunks or if you have the ham bone (which can also be frozen!) use that!
- Though bacon may be your first choice, cooked ham is a great breakfast option too! You can cook it up to eat with any of your usual breakfast choices and it will taste amazing.
- If you’re a pasta lover, then there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t use your cooked ham in any pasta dishes you fancy.
These are just some of the ways you can use your cooked ham, but you aren’t limited to breakfast, soups, or pasta!
You can find thousands of different recipes that include cooked ham online, just go and have a look and see what takes your fancy!
How To Thaw Ham
Once you’ve frozen your ham, it’s in your best interest to learn how to thaw it properly, so you don’t ruin the ham when it’s time to use it again.
Luckily, thawing ham is quite straightforward and isn’t very technical, so anyone can do it.
All you have to do is take it out of the freezer and place it in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours. The full amount of time will vary depending on the size of the ham.
The hardest part of thawing ham is retaining its moisture. No one likes a dry ham! But luckily, this can be remedied by wrapping the ham in aluminum foil before you place it in the fridge.
If you’ve left it a bit late to thaw and you need the ham ready to eat a bit faster though, there are two things you can do: soak it in cold water or microwave it. Let’s take a look at both options and how you do it now!
Soak In Cold Water
Though you can use this method for a full ham, it is much more effective for sliced or smaller portions of ham. You will need to put the slices of ham into a ziplock bag and get rid of as much air from the bag as you possibly can.
Once you’ve done this, place the ziplock bag into a bowl of cold water. You need to make sure that the whole bag is completely submerged in water for this method to work.
It will take roughly 30 minutes for your ham to defrost. If you need it to defrost it faster, then you will need to break up the ham into even smaller pieces.
A whole ham will take much longer to defrost this way though, so keep that in mind before you use this method.
If you need a method that is even faster than soaking it in water, you can always use your microwave.
All you need to do with this method is put your ham into the microwave and set it to the lowest power. You will need to check your ham from time to time as you go, but it shouldn’t take as long as the soaking it in cold water method.
Can Thawed Ham Be Refrozen?
Sometimes it can be quite difficult to work out just how much ham you need to defrost, so you will probably find yourself with more thawed ham than you actually need.
So, if that does happen, you’re probably wondering if a thawed ham can be refrozen.
Luckily, it can! It won’t be the same quality it was before you thawed it, and it will lose some of its moisture, but it will still be edible for when you need to use it next.
If you used the soak in water or microwave method to defrost it though, it is in your best interest not to refreeze it.
To refreeze thawed ham, you need to make sure that you used the fridge to defrost it, not the other options! If you did use the fridge, follow these instructions to refreeze it:
- Once you’re ready to refreeze it, place it directly into the freezer. You need to make sure it’s frozen within three days of when it was first thawed.
- If it has been out of the fridge for any longer than two hours, do not refreeze it.
- Make sure the ham is protected and packed properly to avoid freezer burn.
As long as you follow the guidelines we have provided, you’ll be able to freeze your ham and use it again whenever you need to. It might seem like a complicated process before you do it, but you’ll soon see that it couldn’t be easier!
Enjoy your ham for longer by freezing it until you’re ready to eat it again!