Honey baked hams are a delicacy like no other. They are evenly smoked and have the potential to provide a much deeper and richer flavor than what is achievable at home.
But when it comes to their storage, how long are honey baked hams good for? Honey Baked Hams can last up to 7-10 days in the fridge and up to 2-6 months in the freezer. The ham may also survive room temperatures for up to 1 hour but should be kept refrigerated for the entirety of its storage duration.
Read below to learn more about the storage instructions for honey baked hams, how long they last and how to tell when they have gone bad!
Honey Baked Hams – Preparation
Honey baked hams are spirally cut, smoked, and hand-glazed to perfection. They provide a unique smokey, umami, and subtly sweet flavor that can pair with almost any complementing base like bread, vegetables, rice, and more.
There are several varieties of honey baked hams available in the market, some are half-cooked while others are fully cooked and only require just a bit of heating.
One notable example of this beautifully glazed ham is what The Honey Baked Ham Company offers.
Their honey baked ham has been proclaimed as the “best ham in the world.” It is slow-cooked and smoked until it develops a deep flavor and color.
The ham is then further processed before it is prepackaged and shipped in large industrial chilled vans.
When it comes to storage, honey baked hams do require refrigeration. Even though the ham is cured, it still requires proper storage and treatment because of the added condiments and sugary glaze.
While other types of cured meat (like salt-cured meats) may be able to survive for longer, honey baked hams should not be left out for more than 1-2 hours.
To gain a better understanding of how to store them, we must first look at how they are made and processed in the factory because the packaging of this ham provides a huge hint in how it should be stored!
Getting The Ham From The Market To The Fridge
Once the ham is cooked for several hours it is set to chill at around 20°F and then put in an air-tight container or foil. The foil keeps the ham from drying out and keeps it safe from the environment.
Other companies may use a vacuum seal cover with added padding so that the bone does not pierce through the packaging while it is heat-sealed.
When you purchase the ham from the supermarket, you will need to bring it home within 2 hours.
This is important as it will keep the ham from developing bacteria and from going bad. It is best to leave the ham in the insulated bag and foil it came in.
If you plan to immediately use the ham then we recommend that you open up the insulated bag and then remove just a part of the foil to cut up the ham as required.
The rest of the ham must be kept back in the refrigerator until it is needed.
How Long Is Honey Baked Ham Good For?
Once the ham is refrigerated, it can last up to 7-10 days in the fridge, provided that it is kept in its insulated bag and is wrapped in foil.
The ham must be kept at around 40°F at the back of the fridge so that it is safe from temperature variances.
You may also choose to freeze the ham for longer in two ways:
- Either store the ham whole without opening any packaging in the coldest part of your freezer. The ham will last up to 6-8 weeks.
- OR store opened or cut ham in the freezer within 5 days of refrigeration by wrapping foil around the leftovers and then storing them in the coldest part of the freezer.
Remember, leftovers must be refrigerated immediately. A good way to keep the ham fresh and free of bacteria is to cut up small portions of the ham and then to keep the rest of it back in the fridge.
You can further cut the ham by taking it out and then refrigerating it as needed.
Keep the ham covered in its original foil or re-wrap it using any food-safe aluminum foil to keep it fresh and delicious!
How To Enjoy Honey Baked Ham – Heating And Serving
Honey baked ham is best served either cold or at room temperature.
To thaw the ham, simply move it to the fridge and thaw it overnight or for up to 36 hours in the fridge.
Once the ham is fully thawed, you can let it naturally warm up at room temperature with the foil on for no more than 30 minutes.
This is important because heating the ham using high heat will cause it to dry out and become less tasty. The only way to preserve its flavor, texture, and aroma is to allow it to warm up over the counter.
But if you do want to enjoy it warm then you can gently heat it in the oven with the foil on at 275°F for no more than 10 minutes.
It is best not to expose the ham to direct heat as it may dry it out, so always use an aluminum cover to protect the ham and to keep its juices intact.
The ham can also be heated in the microwave or skillet. Of course, you will need to remove the foil for this. Be careful with how much heat you apply to the ham.
We recommend starting with low to medium heat and keeping an eye on the meat.
As a basic rule of thumb, the skillet or microwave is perfect for heating smaller portions or cuts of the ham while if you want to heat all of the meat, then you should opt for the oven method.
As always, the best way to handle meat is to read the storage instructions at the back of the packaging.
Every manufacturer has a different way of storing and treating their meat product so if you want the freshest and best-tasting ham, we recommend that you check the back for precise instructions.
Quickly Cutting The Ham
When it comes to carving the meat, you can do it in several ways.
The best method is to cut along the bone of the ham and to follow the natural muscle line. This will release small quarter portions of the meat. The smaller portions come out due to the spiral cut of the ham.
This also makes it easier and faster to get as many portions as you like, thereby reducing the time the ham has to stay at room temperature.
Sure, you can cut through the ham either vertically or horizontally, but it will ruin the texture of the meat and you may also end up with unequal ham slices!
Signs Of Spoilage
Honey baked hams can last for several days in the fridge and up to several weeks in the freezer, but in some cases, they might not be able to last the full duration either due to inadequate storage conditions or incorrect temperatures.
Keep in mind, the ham should be stored at 40°F in the fridge and 0°F in the freezer or it may start to develop mold on the surface of the meat.
Here are a few important signs that you need to look out for and a few ways to prevent the meat from going bad early:
Molding And Growths
Honey baked ham is glazed with a sugary marinade that gives it its iconic flavor and crispy, crunchy texture.
However, this is also the main reason why the meat may go bad, especially on the surface.
Always inspect the ham before use, no matter how you keep it in the fridge or freezer. Fresh and edible honey baked ham will have a very smooth surface and pinkish meat.
But in some cases, the meat may also start to develop green or gray color mold. This mold can either appear in patches or may have a fuzzy texture to it. In either case, you must not try to remove the mold or cut around it using a knife.
Instead, toss the meat out because it may already be contaminated!
This is another dead giveaway of meat that has gone bad. Honey baked ham has a naturally pleasant and almost sweet aroma. Once the meat is thawed, make sure that you inspect it for any foul odors.
Some variations in smell are acceptable, so long as it isn’t rancid.
Usually, the longer the meat is stored in the fridge, the more variations it is likely to develop. This is very natural and acceptable. However, if the meat has a sour, fermented aroma, then you should just discard the entire piece.
Honey baked ham should not have any film or slime in or around the surface of the meat.
Any sticky or oily film over the meat may indicate that it has started to go bad. While this may not immediately mean that the meat is done for, it would be a good idea to take precautions and to just discard the meat.
The taste test should be reserved for last. This test can determine the quality and safety of the meat and must only be used if you are unable to detect the other signs of spoilage listed above.
Cut a small piece of the ham and thoroughly check it for all the above signs. If you are unable to tell if the meat has gone bad then you may proceed to bite a small piece of the ham to detect any bitterness or change in flavor.
If you do get a bad taste then spit out the food and thoroughly rinse your mouth. Don’t worry; so long as you don’t swallow the meat, you should be safe!
All the above changes are bound to take place around the 10-day mark, in the case of refrigeration.
On the other hand, meat may remain edible for up to 6 weeks in the freezer and only show signs of spoilage around the one-year mark, or earlier, depending on how well the ham was kept frozen.
Here is a table that shows the storage duration of the ham under different conditions:
|Honey Baked Ham||Freezer||Fridge||Room Temperature|
|General Storage||6-8 weeks||5-7 days||1-2 hours|
|Check for Spoilage After||8 Weeks.||5 Days||2+ Hours|
|Storage Indication||Keep wrapped in foil and store within an insulated bag||Keep wrapped in foil and store within an insulated bag||Keep wrapped in foil and store within an insulated bag|
Tips And Tricks To Preventing Spoilage
- Before freezing the ham, we recommend cutting up the entire piece and then storing small portions in a freezer-safe bag. This way, you can take out a few bags at a time without having to wait for the entire ham to thaw. This will prevent the other pieces from being exposed to temperature differences and will keep them from going bad early.
- For frozen honey baked ham, it is best to consume all of it within 2 months for the best flavor and texture. The meat will remain edible for up to 6 months and even a year but will most probably lose a lot of its flavor and aroma.
- Keep the meat away from moisture and wrap it in foil before placing it in an airtight container or packaging. This will prevent the meat from developing freezer burn!
- Avoid thawing the meat in the microwave, even at the thaw setting. If you are after flavor and the best texture possible, then you should just allow the meat to thaw at room temperature for no more than 30-40 minutes.
- Keep the meat wrapped in foil and in a food-safe airtight bag when storing it in the fridge. This will keep it insulated and will prevent it from drying. Check for signs of spoilage after the 5-day mark. If the meat is kept for longer then you must carefully inspect it before serving.
Honey baked hams are perfect for intimate parties and even large gatherings. They are highly convenient and can be prepped within 30 minutes when thawed!
Now that you know how long they can last in different conditions, here are some related questions.
Can I freeze 5-day-old honey baked ham?
Yes, if the ham has been in the fridge for up to 5 days, then you may move it to the freezer to extend its shelf life by several weeks. However, you must aim to consume the meat within 2-4 weeks for the best results.
Remember, the ham can last for way longer once it is frozen solid but will still slowly oxidize, which means that it may lose a lot of its flavor and even texture once it is thawed after a long time.
Can you make honey baked ham at home?
Yes, there are several recipes that can replicate the flavors of what The Honey Baked Ham Company offers. In the end, it all comes down to how you want to flavor the meat.
You can either go with a simple glaze or a more complex marinade depending on your cooking experience and requirement.
Is honey baked ham cured?
Yes, honey baked ham is pre-cooked and cured at the factory. People believe that cured meats don’t go bad as easily.
This is true, but in the case of honey baked ham, this meat can go bad within the week in the fridge due to its high sugar content.
The glaze can expedite bacterial growth, especially if the meat is not kept under the right storage conditions.
If you’re wanting to try making your own honey baked ham, here’s a great video on how to do so!
Up Next: How To Store Grapes After Washing