There are many myths about Acorn-fed 100% Iberian ham and its preservation. But everything we hear may not be correct or be the best option for preserving and not spoiling a ham that we have opened at home.

How to preserve a ham

Normally, the most common thing to hear is that the best way to preserve the ham is to avoid exposing it to very hot places, avoiding heat sources and direct exposure to sunlight. In short, the best and ideal option would be to keep the piece in a cool, dry place, where it is not exposed to direct light or heat and where it is accessible for handling and slicing.

How to preserve a ham that has been started at home

If we have started to cut and consume the ham, the best recommendation would be to make sure it is kept in a dry, cool place and not exposed to direct sunlight.

Try not to keep it in the kitchen near the cooker, the oven or sources of heat or smoke so as not to spoil its flavour and aroma.

It is also important to cover the piece with a piece of its own fat or a clean, lint-free cotton cloth so that it does not dry out or lose its texture.

How to keep a ham at home without starting it

After buying it, it is estimated that this ham will be consumed within three months, although normally the maximum estimated time for the consumption of a whole piece of Acorn-fed 100% Iberian ham is one year. This is not a problem, although we should be aware that this lengthy wait will increase the natural drying time of the piece, which means that the meat may be a little drier when you finally decide to eat it.

If we have not yet decided to open the ham, and it is expected to be consumed in about a month’s time, we recommend that you take the ham out of the cotton bag or wrapping in which it was given to us when we bought it, and hang it up to allow air to reach all parts of the leg.

The ham should be kept in a cool, dry place, avoiding exposure to sources of heat and light, as mentioned above. Even so, most Acorn-fed 100% Iberian hams retain their qualities in perfect condition for up to 2-3 months after purchase, as long as they are out of any wrappings they came with.

It is important to assess whether or not the ham is going to take some time to be consumed. If so, it would be ideal to place it in a room that can be ventilated normally and without problems, in order to continue the drying process in the most natural way possible. A place we recommend at home could be a gallery, a cellar, a private garage, or a ventilated cellar. In this way we will preserve the ham perfectly without spoiling it. Do not forget to place a small cloth underneath the ham because it can sweat a little.

If the ham is going to take longer to be consumed (up to 6 months) we recommend that in addition to taking it out of the bag you hang it up so that it can breathe properly, as well as brushing it every 2 or 3 weeks with sunflower oil so that the parts that tend to dry out do not dry out excessively.

In summary, we recommend:

  1. Avoid exposing the ham to direct sources of light or heat, such as ovens, hobs, heating, etc.
  2. Keep the ham in a dry, cool and, if possible, easily ventilated place in the house, a garage, a ventilated cellar, etc.
  3. Cut off the rind of the ham only as it is being consumed and when it is no longer being cut, cover the opened part with a piece of its own leftover fat or a cotton cloth that does not release lint or dust.
  4. If you are going to delay to start carving, after you buy it hang it to allow it to air evenly and take it out of the cloth bag, if it has one.

Main problems of a bad conservation of the ham

Ideally, ham should not be kept in the refrigerator, nor should it be exposed to heat sources. It should be kept at a temperature of approximately 25ºC.

If you have already bought a leg of ham and have started it, you should not wait too long to consume it completely, generally no more than 20 days in winter and no more than 15 days in summer, this should be the maximum time of consumption to enjoy its maximum quality, after this period the ham will start to deteriorate.

It is very important to cover the ham after consumption so that it does not dry out. Furthermore, if we do not protect it from the light with a clean, opaque cloth, direct contact with light will cause the meat to oxidise, which will attract insects that can get close to it and land on the leg.

Do not forget any of our recommendations to enjoy your ham in perfect condition, maintaining all its quality, flavour, and aromas.

Besides, you can use every bit of the ham, so do not throw away the bones and prepare a delicious hot broth, very tasty and full of beneficial properties for your health.