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Ham hints

Christmas hams will keep for several weeks with proper handling.

Always follow the storage instructions. Reduced salt hams, while healthier, will not last as long as conventional hams so it's particularly important to follow the instructions on the packaging.

Plan ahead

  • a leg of ham needs to be stored in the refrigerator
  • a special ham bag or clean cotton pillowcase will keep it fresh and maintain quality the longest
  • the ham bag or pillowcase needs to be changed or washed and dried every 3 days 

Check the fridge

  • 5°C or colder in the fridge will slow bacteria growth
  • avoid overfilling the fridge, which can push up the inside temperature and mean the fridge can't circulate cold air inside. Keep cold air vents clear. Avoid frequently opening and closing the fridge door to help maintain the cool temperature inside..
  • things like drinks can be safely kept cold in an ice-filled sink or esky

Make space

  • don't allow any raw food such as other meats to touch the ham

Scrub up

  • wash hands thoroughly before handling the ham, especially after nose blowing or going to the toilet
  • avoid preparing food if sick with something like a cold, diarrhoea or nausea
  • take extra care with hygiene if there are pets in the kitchen
  • make sure to use separate cutting boards, knives and other kitchenware to prepare the ham
  • use clean sponges and tea towels, dry wooden kitchenware in the sun if possible 


  • slice off the amount that's needed and keep the whole ham in the fridge
  • ham needs to be eaten within 2 hours or put back in the fridge
  • processed cold ham is not suitable for pregnant women, people with low-functioning immune systems or people older than 70 years, unless thoroughly reheated and eaten while hot


  • leftover sliced ham can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days if wrapped in plastic or foil
  • sliced meat can also be put back under the skin flap of a ham leg on the bone, and stored in the ham bag or cotton pillowcase
  • it’s also possible to freeze leftover slices or the ham bone for homemade soup when the weather cools
  • to prevent the spread of disease, don't feed leftover ham (or any food scraps that contain meat or that have been in contact with meat products) to pigs. Find out more on the Department of Primary Industries website

Please remember...

...the key tips:

  • Keep it cold
  • Keep it clean
  • Keep it hot
  • ...and check the label