When it comes to buying Iberian ham, the first thing we want is for it not to spoil, and this usually leads to the same question: can Iberian ham be frozen? Like everything in life, it depends, and technically, you can freeze it, but it doesn't make any sense because it would ruin its quality.
At Enrique Tomás, we will explain why and what you should do to preserve and keep it in good condition.
Why Does Freezing Ham Not Make Sense?
Freezing food is typically done to make it last longer. However, when it comes to Serrano ham, whether it's from acorn-fed or grain-fed pigs, freezing it actually ruins its flavors and aromas. To extend the shelf life of a meat product like Iberian ham, there is a much more recommended technique: vacuum packaging. This process prolongs the ham's life while preserving its unique characteristics.
The vacuum packaging process involves removing all the air from a ham package with a pump, and since the meat is no longer in contact with oxygen, it doesn't spoil. It's important to note that when you remove the air from the ham package, the meat may darken in color, but this doesn't affect its quality. When you open it and let the ham breathe, it will return to its usual color.
Vacuum-sealed slices by Enrique Tomás
It's very important to let the cured ham rest for a few minutes before devouring it. In this regard, at Enrique Tomás, we have a principle: if you can't enjoy acorn-fed or grain-fed Iberian ham properly, it's not real ham. If you're extremely hungry and plan to eat hastily, we recommend opting for other foods like canned tuna or cooked ham. Cured ham is a delicacy produced using a costly, traditional, and artisanal method, so it deserves to be savored!
Regarding vacuum-sealed ham slices, it's worth noting that one of their advantages is that you don't even need to refrigerate them. Storing vacuum-sealed Iberian ham is very easy. Just keep the package in a dry, dark place at a temperature between 17 and 23°C (62-73°F), and it will remain perfectly preserved. Any pantry will do!
We Don't Do It, but Others Do
As we've explained, vacuum packaging preserves the nutrients, texture, and firmness of the ham. However, does this mean that Iberian ham should never be frozen under any circumstances? Not exactly. At Enrique Tomás, we never, ever freeze ham, and we recommend that you don't do it at home either. However, it's important to note that some companies do freeze ham, as it makes it easier to machine-slice uniformly.
When you go to the supermarket and see slices of Iberian ham or Serrano ham cut with the same geometric shape or with perfect measurements for sandwiches, be suspicious. Iberian ham, whether sliced by machine or knife, doesn't have this uniform shape, but companies that market it this way achieve it through a straightforward process: first, they debone it, then they mold it by placing it in molds along with other pieces, and finally, they freeze it before machine-slicing it to ensure that each slice is exactly the same as the previous one, giving it a more visually appealing appearance to those who may not be familiar with this product.
Buy sliced ham from Enrique Tomás
As we've already mentioned, at Enrique Tomás, we never, under any circumstances, freeze ham, not even for machine slicing. There's no point in carefully aging a piece of ham for three years if it's going to be frozen and lose all its flavor and nuances. Vacuum packaging is more than enough to ensure that the ham remains in good condition for up to 90 days. We're sure that if you have ham in sight, you'll finish it before it has a chance to spoil!
In conclusion, Can Iberian ham be frozen?
Technically, you can freeze it, but it doesn't make sense, and be wary of anyone who tells you otherwise. Companies that do freeze ham only want to exploit and commercialize the product without guaranteeing its quality. As masters and lovers of ham, we would never do this! Only good ham can represent the culture behind this food, and because we know it, we take care of it with the utmost care.