Are you a fan of Iberico ham? If so, you may be wondering how best to store it to ensure it stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible.
With conflicting information out there, it can be hard to know whether or not to refrigerate your ham. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of storing Iberico ham, including how long it lasts, whether or not it needs to be refrigerated, and the best ways to store it to preserve its flavor and texture.
So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn everything you need to know about storing this delicious Spanish delicacy.
Does Iberico Ham Need To Be Refrigerated?
One of the most common questions people have about Iberico ham is whether or not it needs to be refrigerated. The answer is both yes and no, depending on the type of ham you have.
Whole, bone-in Iberico ham does not need to be refrigerated. Instead, it should be stored in a cool, dry, and ventilated place, either resting in a holder (jamonero) or hung by the rope. This is because the meat is already vacuum packed and does not need to be refrigerated to stay fresh.
On the other hand, boneless Iberico ham should be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap or butcher paper. This type of ham can be divided into pieces or sliced on an electrical slicer. It’s important to note that once opened, both types of ham should be consumed within a few weeks.
How Long Does Iberico Ham Last?
Iberico ham has a longer shelf life than most people might expect. The curation process of the ham involves hanging and exposing it to the elements for up to three years. As a result, vacuum-packed Iberico ham can last up to 100 days without opening, as long as the seal is secure. If the ham is stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat sources, it can last even longer. However, once the package is opened, the ham should be consumed within a few weeks.
Vacuum-packed Serrano ham can last up to two years if stored in a cool, dry place. Once opened, it should be consumed within 2-3 weeks. It’s important to note that both Iberico and Serrano ham should never be frozen as it destroys the complex and nuanced flavors that have been achieved through the curation process.
The Best Ways To Store Iberico Ham
To ensure that your Iberico ham stays fresh and retains its flavor, there are a few key factors to consider when storing it. Here are some of the best ways to store Iberico ham:
1. Store in a cool and dry place: Whether you have a whole, bone-in ham or sliced ham, it’s important to store it in a cool and dry place. This can be a wine cellar or a clean basement, as this particular climate mimics the specialized curing rooms of Spain. Avoid storing it in direct sunlight or near a heat source.
2. Use a ham-holder or hang it by the rope: If you have a whole, bone-in ham, it’s best to store it on its jamonero or ham-holder. This will help keep the ham stable and prevent it from moving around. You can also hang it by the rope in a cool and dry place.
3. Cover exposed areas with plastic wrap or fat: To preserve the freshness, moisture, and flavor of your ham as it is consumed, always cover the sliced area with plastic wrap or a bit of the removed fat layer after slicing. If the meat has been left exposed to the air for some time, discard the first slice of the exposed area, as it will be dry and tough.
4. Never freeze Iberico ham: Spaniards cured ham as a means of preservation before refrigeration or freezers. No need to double up on the preservation methods. Freezing will cause damage to the texture and flavor of the ham.
5. Remove mold formation with olive oil: Natural mold and salt particles may appear on the surface of the ham if it is soaked in salt. When a ham is mold-free, it is indicative of its proper age. The sheen is visible on the surface of both whole and boneless hams as a result of the moisture content of the cut surface.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your Iberico ham stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible.
How To Tell If Your Iberico Ham Has Gone Bad
It’s important to know how to tell if your Iberico ham has gone bad, especially if it’s been stored for a while. Here are some signs to look out for:
1. Color: Check the color of the ham. Fresh Iberico ham should have a deep red color. If it’s a pale pink color, it may be starting to spoil.
2. Texture: The texture of the ham is also a good indicator of spoilage. If the ham feels slimy or tacky, it’s probably gone bad.
3. Smell: Before you eat the ham, give it a sniff. If it smells sour or off, it’s likely that the ham has gone bad.
4. Mold: A thin layer of mold may form on the whole ham when it’s freshly cut, which is harmless and can be removed with a clean, damp cloth or olive oil. However, if the mold has become thick and bitter, the ham has likely perished and should be discarded.
5. Taste: If you’ve already eaten some of the ham and notice an off or sour taste, it’s best to stop eating it and discard the rest.
It’s important to note that Iberico ham does not pose a risk to your health if consumed within its shelf life and stored properly. So, make sure to keep an eye out for these signs of spoilage and enjoy your delicious Iberico ham while it’s still fresh!
Tips For Enjoying Iberico Ham At Its Best
Now that you know how to properly store your Iberico ham, let’s talk about how to enjoy it at its best. Here are some tips:
1. Find a cool place to store the ham that is away from direct sunlight. The ideal temperature to consume it should always be between 70 and 76 F.
2. When you open the ham for the first time, use a strong knife to take away the first layers of skin and yellow fat. Once you get to the white fat, start using the ham knife (long and flexible) and save some thin slices of this fat to cover the exposed meat once you finish for the day.
3. When carving the Iberico ham, try carving very thin slices with a good amount of fat, as this fat is both tasty and healthy.
4. The fat of a good acorn-fed Iberico ham (Jamón Ibérico de Bellota) is where all the aromas and flavors are. Eating this ham without its fat is only enjoying it at 50%. So make sure to savor the fat along with the meat.
5. Avoid drinking while you are eating the first ham slices. Acorn Iberico ham is full of flavors and possesses an impressive aftertaste. It is really worth leaving your taste buds to enjoy the fifth flavor, known as Umami.
6. Especially if you are new to Iberico ham, the best way to experience and taste the meat is to eat it without an accompaniment. Just simply as it is. The best way to taste it is to take a whole slice that is warm and sweaty. Grab everything, including some muscle and fat altogether, and let the nuances and textures make themselves comfortable on your taste buds.
7. To cleanse the palate, a fresh and fruity white wine will ready your taste buds for the next slice.
Remember, investing in high-quality Iberico ham is key to truly enjoying its unique and highly appreciated features. By following these tips, you can savor every nuance of this delicious Spanish delicacy.