16 October 2011

How long will Spanish ham last?

How long Serrano ham lasts for is one of the more commonly asked questions we get asked at Orce Serrano Hams. The answer really does depend on a number of factors but in the main if you bank on around 6 weeks (providing the ham is not devoured before then).

Factors effecting the longevity of a Spanish ham will depend on the hams size and also the conditions it is kept in either prior to or after cutting into. A good example would be a Spanish ham bought for Christmas in mid November where perhaps it may need to be hidden away or stored until the big day... The best conditions are in a cool and preferably dry place where the ham will happily continue to cure and come to no harm at all. The big question though is how long will a ham last after being cut into?

There are various answers to be found on the internet but as mentioned before the 6 week mark is a good guideline, again in fairly cool conditions away from moisture. Once a ham is 'opened' it immediately begins to dry out, the best way to combat this is to smear olive oil over the exposed meat to help keep it moist. If the ham is regularly being carved ie every day or two then this will not be necessary but should the ham be left for any longer then it will need a little oil and also covering with a tea towel or muslin cover (a ham needs to be covered after every carve)

To keep a ham longer will compromise its flavour drastically and also its texture as once cut into it will dry and begin to harden and crack. This of course is not usually a problem as a Spanish ham never tends to last that long! We recently received an email from a client saying they had read that a ham would last for up to a year once cut into and what was the reason for the huge time difference compared to other information he had read. In reality a ham needs to be enjoyed and consumed within a few weeks - just as the Spanish do, a year is simply too long and would waste all of that flavour, aroma and texture of the meat and would result in a very hard ham indeed if it was kept that long after being cut into.

There is no hurry in eating a Spanish ham, indeed it is a purchase that needs to be savoured, matched with cheeses, wines and fruit so should never be rushed, it simply pays to enjoy that ham regularly as tapas, as an ingredient or simply on its own over a month or so and remember that olive oil!

Useful Links:

Ham Storage
Ham Carving
Cooking with Spanish Ham
Sliced Spanish Ham
Serrano Ham - The Full Story

For further information on purchasing hand picked Spanish hams and buying choices visit Orce Serrano Hams


charlie said...

From my experience - 5 or 6 hams, kept in a cool conservatory over the winter months, I'd say at least 3 months. Very little mould, yes it dries out a little but still very eatable. I wrap mine in cling film having seen this done in Jerez.

Orce Serrano Hams said...

Charlie: Thanks for passing by the blog, 3 months is pretty good going, a conservatory is ideal as it near enough replicates the conditions of the secadero, especially in the cooler months.