If you’re like me, you’re probably on the lookout for ways to save on your groceries. One of the best ways to do this is to buy in bulk and ham is no exception to this tip. If you don’t have a large family, however, you’re going to need a way to keep it fresh once the ham has been cooked and freezing is the way to go! Proper freezing can be done in just a few easy steps that will insure juicy, flavorful ham everytime.
Things you will need:
- A sharp knife
- Cutting board
- Freezer bags (Gallon, Quart, Sandwich, etc.)
- Permanent marker
The first step is to break down your ham into smaller pieces. Whether you slice or dice it, smaller pieces will allow the ham to freeze more uniformly, resulting in less ice crystals inside of the meat. This helps to keep your ham from getting tough and freezer burned.
The second step is to get your ham into freezer safe bags. Break up the meat according to how much you’ll use for a single meal. You’ll want to break it up because once you’ve thawed the meat for a meal, you won’t want to refreeze it. That would toughen the meat drastically and make it inedible.
The third step is to make sure you get all of the air out of the freezer bags before sealing them. Removing all the air helps to lessen the chances of getting bacteria in the meat and prevents freezer burn on the meat. If you don’t have a food vacumming machine the best way to do this is to stick the end of a straw into the bag and then seal it up. Suck on the other end of the straw to remove all the air from the bag, slip out the straw and seal it up quickly. It may taste a bit hammy, but it makes all the difference when you thaw your ham.
The next step is to label all of your bag with both the date of bagging and the use by date. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Food Safety, this should be no longer than two months from the origina bagging date. Any longer than that can result in eating meat that is not safe for consumption.
After you’ve finished all of these steps, all that’s left to do is stick your ham into the freezer and shut the door. Now you’ll have ready to use ham at your fingertips for the next two months. If you’d like, the hambone you have left over is perfect for making broths.
Tip: If you need to thaw the meat quickly, use room-temperature water to speed up the process rather than use your microwave.