If you have a good Iberian ham at home, don't think twice; start enjoying the pleasure of eating it as soon as possible! It's challenging to resist such a delicacy for too long. But if you're waiting for a special occasion to open it and enjoy it with your loved ones, you might be wondering how to properly store an unopened ham at home.
Well, at Enrique Tomás, we want to assist you, so we're sharing all our ham expertise and passion to explain how to properly maintain this product so that when you decide to open it, it's as delicious as the first day.
Best Way to Store an Unopened Ham at Home
First and foremost, we want to emphasize that in our cellars, we have the exact conditions of light, temperature, and humidity that each ham needs. However, it's challenging to recreate the same environment, temperature stability, and constant darkness at home. To avoid affecting the flavor nuances of the piece, it's best to open and enjoy your ham as soon as possible. We do not recommend waiting too long (the sooner, the better). If you can't find the ideal moment to do so, take it to a specialized store to have it sliced and vacuum-sealed. This way, you'll preserve it for a more extended period with greater ease.
But if you want to have the whole leg, start it in a few days, and cut it yourself like a true master ham carver, the first thing you need to do to store an unopened ham at home is to remove all the packaging it comes with. Then, you should hang it in a cool place (between 15 and 21ºC), dry, and dark, without direct sunlight or a heat source.
What Part of the House Can Be the Ideal Location?
Clearly, the living room, bedrooms, and bathroom are ruled out, and the kitchen, although it might seem like a suitable place at first, is also not ideal because temperature fluctuations are not suitable for curing.
At Enrique Tomás, we recommend that you look for a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight. Therefore, the most suitable space is the pantry, a food storage closet, a storage room, or even the garage, as long as it can maintain the recommended temperature of 15 to 21ºC. Also, it's advisable to hang the ham by the hoof, in a vertical position. This way, you ensure that the entire piece is exposed to the air in the same way.
Lastly, keep in mind that there's no need to grease the ham. The curing process already provides its own layer of fat, the bacon, which keeps the ham tender. There's no need to add any additional products.
Storage Once You Begin
If the day has finally come when you're ready to dig into this delight, it's essential to consider recommendations for proper storage once it's open.
That's why at Enrique Tomás, we suggest that you:
- Store the piece in a dry and preferably dark place because, just like with unopened ham, it's essential to maintain a stable temperature once you start cutting to prevent the flavor from being affected.
- Wrap the leg with a lint-free cloth; this is the best way to protect it from the outside. Alternatively, you can use transparent plastic wrap. Under no circumstances should you cover the ham with its own fat, as it could impart a rancid taste to the area. When in contact with the air, it will oxidize, and the first slice won't be pleasant to the palate.
- Do not apply oil to the ham; this process is entirely unnecessary. We only recommend using a bit of vegetable oil, such as sunflower oil, if a white layer of mold has developed (this is not bad; it's a normal reaction due to temperature fluctuations and the curing process). If you notice that the area is dry when slicing the next pieces, remove it with a knife and use it for cooking: it's perfect for making croquettes, serving with grilled asparagus, in a cream sauce, or with sautéed mushrooms. There are plenty of recipes to make the most of this piece of ham!
- Last but not least, enjoy this product with friends and family. A good ham is meant to be shared, and consuming it surrounded by loved ones allows you to savor all its flavors and nuances without the passage of time affecting them. Once you decide that you no longer want to slice more pieces from the leg, you can take it to a specialized store for a professional to slice and vacuum-seal it, so you can continue enjoying this product at home, but more conveniently.