How Long Does Cryovac Ham Last in the Fridge?

Cryovac ham is a popular choice for many households, especially around the holidays. But how long does it actually last refrigerated once you buy it? This guide covers everything you need to know about cryovac ham’s shelf life, proper storage methods, signs of spoilage, and how to maximize its freshness.

What is Cryovac Ham?

Cryovac refers to a specialized vacuum packaging technique that removes oxygen from packages of fresh foods like meat, fish, cheese and produce. It helps prevent spoilage and extends shelf life.

Cryovac ham is raw cured ham that has been vacuum sealed in plastic cryovac bags This packaging technique makes the hamlast longer than traditional methods. Most cryovac hams are also wet aged or cured before packaging.

Common types of cryovac ham include bone-in hams, spiral sliced hams, half hams, and boneless hams. Popular brands like Honeybaked, Cook’s, and Smithfield use cryovac packaging.

How Long Does Unopened Cryovac Ham Last in the Fridge?

An unopened cryovac ham will usually last the following times refrigerated

  • Bone-in cryovac ham 2-3 months from the pack date

  • Spiral sliced cryovac ham: 2-3 months from the pack date

  • Half cryovac ham: 2-3 months from the pack date

  • Boneless cryovac ham: 2-3 months from the pack date

The cryovac packaging helps extend the shelf life significantly by preventing exposure to air and bacteria. Always check the ‘Use By’ or ‘Sell By’ date on the packaging as a guide too.

How Long Does Opened Cryovac Ham Last in the Fridge?

Once opened, the clock starts ticking faster on your cryovac ham’s shelf life. Follow these guidelines:

  • Whole bone-in cryovac ham: 3-5 days

  • Cooked spiral sliced cryovac ham: 3-5 days

  • Half cryovac ham: 3-5 days

  • Leftover sliced cryovac ham: 3-4 days

Seal up any leftovers in airtight containers or bags. Check for signs of spoilage before eating as it nears the 3-5 day mark after opening.

Does Cooked Cryovac Ham Last Longer Than Uncooked?

Cooked cryovac ham that is fully cooked before packaging will actually last a bit shorter than uncooked cryovac ham. Cooked ham lasts 3-5 days after opening compared to 1 week for fresh uncooked ham.

The reason is that cooking kills off protective bacteria that keep the ham from spoiling quickly. So cooked ham has a shorter shelf life once exposed to air.

Storing Cryovac Ham to Maximize Freshness

To get the full 2-3 months shelf life from your unopened cryovac ham, follow these storage tips:

  • Keep cryovac ham sealed in original packaging until ready to use. Don’t open it early.

  • Store in the coldest part of the refrigerator, usually the bottom shelf or meat drawer around 35°F.

  • Once opened, rewrap the cut portion tightly in plastic wrap or foil. Limit air exposure.

  • Cooked leftovers should be stored in shallow airtight containers to allow rapid cooling.

Proper refrigeration is key – your fridge should stay at 40°F or below. Higher temps will shorten cryovac ham’s shelf life after opening.

Can You Freeze Cryovac Ham?

Freezing is a great way to extend the shelf life of cryovac ham even longer. Here are some freezing guidelines:

  • Uncooked cryovac hams can be frozen for 4-6 months in a freezer below 0°F.

  • Fully cooked spiral cut hams can be frozen for 2-3 months.

  • Wrap the hams tightly in plastic freezer wrap or bags before freezing. Prevent freezer burn.

  • Thaw frozen cryovac hams for 18-24 hours in the refrigerator before cooking.

  • Use thawed cooked hams within 3-5 days. Discard if they develop an off smell or slimy texture.

How To Tell if Cryovac Ham Has Spoiled

Check your cryovac ham for the following signs of spoilage before eating:

  • Slimy or sticky texture and residue on fingers when touched

  • Unpleasant sour or rancid odor

  • Mold growth – signs of green, white or black fuzz

  • Discoloration – large greyish or greenish areas

  • Dry, shriveled or cracked appearance (in cooked hams)

If you notice any of these, it’s safest to throw out the questionable ham. Don’t taste test cryovac ham that seems spoiled.

Creative Uses for Leftover Cryovac Ham

Put leftover slices, chunks and bone-in pieces of cryovac ham to good use in these recipes:

  • Breakfast – Add to omelets, breakfast burritos, strata or ham hash

  • Lunch – Use in sandwiches, subs, paninis and wraps

  • Snacks – Fry up ham chips or cheesy ham roll-ups

  • Dinner – Mix into fried rice, pasta carbonara, split pea soup or casseroles

  • Baked Goods – Fold into biscuits, hand pies, breads, scones or muffins

With some inspiration, it’s easy to creatively repurpose extra cryovac ham before it goes bad!

The Bottom Line

Cryovac packaging gives unopened raw ham an extended shelf life of 2-3 months when properly refrigerated. Once opened, use cryovac ham within 3-5 days. Freeze for even longer storage. Check for any signs of spoilage before eating leftovers. With proper handling, cryovac hams can stay fresh for holiday feasts and every day meals.

How long can a thawed cooked ham stay in the fridge?

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