Ham is one of those special treats that we serve during the holidays and family gatherings. It’s a fitting entrée for those important occasions.
Of course, you and your family probably won’t be able to finish an entire ham in one sitting. Following the big meal, the cooked ham may also sit out at room temperature for a while.
Find out if the cooked ham left on your table can still be eaten later by continuing with the rest of this article.
How Long Can Cooked Ham Stay Out of the Fridge?
Cooked ham can only remain at room temperature for no more than two hours. Once past that point, the cooked ham becomes vulnerable to bacteria and eventual spoilage. Leftover cooked ham should be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator if it will not be used immediately. If the cooked ham will not be consumed for a while, then it should be stored in the freezer.
How Long Can Cooked Ham Remain at Room Temperature?
When ham is served at family gatherings and holiday parties, hosts often go for the whole ham. You can see why because a whole ham just registers a greater impact than the pre-sliced options.
Serving whole ham is also not an issue since it can be easily sliced up by your guests. Still, there is the issue of leftovers.
By the time everyone is done eating, you will likely still find a big hunk of ham left on the platter. You know you should go and put it in the fridge, but the post-meal fatigue may be keeping you down.
If you are going to leave the ham out on the table for a while, how long will you be able to safely keep it there?
Keeping cooked ham at room temperature is only an option for a little while. You should only leave it outside of your refrigerator for two hours tops.
Ham becomes vulnerable to bacteria if it stays out of the refrigerator for anything longer than two hours. Once that happens, the ham will go bad and it will need to be discarded.
You should also get rid of ham that was accidentally left out of the refrigerator overnight. Even if the room temperature is slightly cooler at night, there is still a good chance that bacteria have gotten to the ham.
Err on the side of caution and dispose of the ham instead of risking your health by eating it.
What Are the Signs That Your Cooked Ham Has Gone Bad?
Perhaps you lost track of time and your ham and now you don’t know how long it’s been sitting out at room temperature. Is there still some way for you to determine if the ham is still safe to eat?
In that scenario, you can check for signs of spoilage. We’ve detailed some of the signs that your cooked ham has gone bad below.
1. Slimy Texture
The first thing you should check if you want to determine the quality of leftover ham is its texture. Grab a spoon and use that to brush across the surface of the ham.
If the ham is still good to go, it should have a moist or somewhat dry texture. The dryness is due to the ham sitting out.
A slimy texture is an indicator of a problem. It means that the ham is probably spoiled.
Don’t risk your health by eating that slimy ham.
2. Sour Smell
The smell of cooked ham should be reminiscent of the ingredients used to make it. The ham may also emit some hints of smokiness because of the way it was cooked.
Cooked ham that smells sour has likely gone bad already. You should throw away any ham emitting that kind of odor.
Checking the color of the ham is also one way to determine if it is still safe to eat.
Any noticeable change to the color of the cooked ham is a sign that there’s something wrong with it. Throw the ham away if you notice discoloration.
How Should You Store Cooked Ham?
Leftover ham can remain safe to eat as long as it is stored properly.
So, how should you store cooked ham? You need to start by wrapping it.
Get some plastic wrap and use that to cover the leftover ham on all sides. Once the ham has been wrapped tightly, you can place it inside an airtight container.
Alternatively, you can also use vacuum-sealed bags to store your ham. Just remember to push the air out of the bag before you set it inside your refrigerator.
As much as possible, you should also avoid slicing the ham to store it. Ham dries out faster if it is already sliced and you will notice that when you go to eat it later.
Look for large containers or bags if you need to store big pieces of ham.
Cooked ham can stay inside your refrigerator for a while. According to the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, leftover cooked ham can be stored in the refrigerator for up to seven days.
Freezing your leftover cooked ham is also another option to consider. The same method of containing the ham we described above will still work if you intend to freeze it.
You can store cooked ham in the freezer indefinitely. However, you should remember that the ham’s flavor and texture may change if you decide to freeze it.
Conclusion to How Long Can Cooked Ham Stay Out of The Fridge?
Ham is a type of meat that can remain edible for a long time as long as it is stored properly. Make sure the ham stays inside your fridge and not out on your counter so you can still enjoy it later on.
Frequently Asked Questions about How Long Can Cooked Ham Stay Out of the Fridge?
What Is the Safe Storage Temperature for Cooked Ham?
The safe storage temperature for cooked ham is anything lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit or 4 degrees Celsius. You should check if your refrigerator is at the right temperature so you can be certain that you can store your ham in there safely.
How Long Can Leftover Canned Ham Stay at Room Temperature?
Leftover canned ham can be stored inside the refrigerator for up to a week. Transfer it to an airtight container before storage to keep it safe.