Sliced ham is a popular staple that most people buy to have on sandwiches or for serving as cold cuts when they have friends over. But, you have to ensure that the ham you’re serving is still good to eat and hasn’t started to deteriorate. So, how long does sliced ham last in the fridge?
Sliced ham should last around three to five days in the fridge. If you’ve purchased your sliced ham in a sealed pack, this should have a use-by date on it as a guide. However, sliced ham that you buy in a deli that’s wrapped in the paper should only be kept in the fridge for around 3 to 5 days.
Let’s look at the different variables to consider that affect how long sliced ham lasts in the fridge.
How Long Does Sliced Ham Last In The Fridge?
There are a couple of ways that you can buy sliced ham. You can either purchase it in a sealed pack from the supermarket shelf, or you can buy freshly sliced ham from the deli.
If you purchase your sliced ham in a sealed pack, this will usually have a use-by date on it. This date will depend on how the ham was packaged. Many deli goods are packed in air-tight packages, and this can often extend the shelf life of the product. This means that you may be able to store your sliced ham unopened for around one to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Ultimately, this use by date gives you a good indication of how long you can store the sliced ham in the fridge. However, as soon as you open the pack, bear in mind that you should not store the ham in the fridge for any longer than 3 to 5 days.
On the other hand, sliced ham that you buy from the deli has not been air sealed and, therefore, should not be stored any longer than five days before being used up completely. This is due to the fact that there is no seal to keep out harmful bacteria while the ham is in the fridge.
There is another option to consider as well. This happens when you buy a whole ham that has been cured, baked, or smoked. If the ham is in a whole, it can be stored in the fridge much longer as long as it is kept well wrapped. In this case, it’s much better not to slice the ham if you want to keep it for a week or two in the fridge.
So, as a general guide, once you’ve opened the packet of sliced ham or you’ve purchased fresh slices from the deli, you can store it in the fridge for around three to five days before it will start to deteriorate.
How To Store Sliced Ham Correctly In The Fridge
Storing your sliced ham in a proper way means that it will last for at least five days in the fridge. Of course, you want to ensure that you have your fridge set to the correct temperature. The ideal temperature is around 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius).
Most modern fridges will have temperature control that you can set up or down, and you should set this in accordance with the manual that came with the fridge when you purchased it.
Once you’ve purchased your sliced ham, it’s important to store it correctly if you want to keep it for the longest time. Fully sealed packs can be stored in the fridge as they are but remember to use the ham by the use by date on the pack.
If you open the pack and don’t use all the ham straight away, you should take it out of the pack and place it in an air-tight container that doesn’t let moisture in. The bacteria that causes the ham to go off tend to grow better in a moist environment, so you want to keep your sliced ham as dry as possible.
To do this, take the ham out of the packet. Place a piece of absorbent paper towel in the bottom of an air-tight container. Put your ham on top of the paper towel and then place another piece of paper towel on top of the ham. Then put the lid on the container and make sure it is well sealed.
For ham that you’ve purchased sliced from the deli, put this into the air-tight container with the absorbent paper towel as above as soon as you get the ham home.
You can also wrap your sliced ham in plastic wrap that is well sealed or encase it in aluminum foil. However, the method using the air-tight container and absorbent paper towel works the best to keep the ham fresh for as long as possible.
It’s also important not to leave your ham out of the fridge for any length of time as bacteria grows rapidly at room temperatures. In fact, sliced ham that has been left out of the fridge for more than 2 hours should be discarded.
Other Methods To Store Sliced Ham
If you’ve purchased a large amount of sliced ham that you’re not going to use within five days, you can extend the shelf life of the ham by storing it in the freezer. Sliced ham should be fine in the freezer for around one to two months as long as you’ve wrapped it correctly. Once you take the sliced ham out of the freezer and it has defrosted, it should keep in the fridge for around three to four days.
To store your ham in the freezer, put it in an air-tight container and then place the container in a freezer bag. This will eliminate the problem of freezer burn. Alternatively, you can wrap the slices of ham in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and then place this into the freezer bag. This is especially useful if you have limited storage space in the freezer. Ziplock bags also work well for this.
It’s a good idea to let the ham defrost in the fridge after you take it out of the freezer. It’s best not to defrost it in the microwave or in cold water. If you do decide to use this method to defrost the ham, you’ll have to use it straight away as it won’t be safe to store it in the fridge after this.
How Can You Tell If The Ham Has Gone Bad?
There are several indicators that you can use to determine if the sliced ham you’ve stored in the fridge has spoiled and should be thrown out.
Firstly, the appearance of the ham is a good indicator. Ham that’s gone past its prime will usually start to discolor. It will start to appear gray and will even exhibit a green tinge. The discoloration can also happen if the ham has been exposed to the air and is a result of oxidation. This is one of the reasons that we should store ham in an air-tight container.
Another telltale sign of ham that’s gone off is that it becomes dull and slimy to the touch. And, finally, if it smells a bit weird, it’s time to throw it away.