Slimy Ham but Not Expired: Is It Ok to Eat It?

Slimy Ham but Not Expired

No one can deny that ham is the perfect and safe solution for all occasions. Ham is a type of pork that comes from the leg or shoulder of a pig, and people usually prefer it cured and smoked, which gives it its characteristic flavor and texture. However, if you have ever had a ham in your fridge, you must have noticed it going slimy on the outside. When this occurs, we often wonder whether this ham is still safe to eat, even if it hasn’t expired. So, is it okay to eat slimy ham that is not expired?

Slimy ham is generally not recommended since the slime indicates bacterial growth that may cause food poisoning and compromise the immune system. It also usually comes with a nasty odor or discoloration. You can still eat sometimes, but only after you ensure it doesn’t smell bad and look off, as long as you cook it.

So, you’ve noticed that your ham is looking a little slimy, the following article will help you discover more about why your ham is slimy, how long a ham lasts, whether you should wash it, and more!

Why Is Your Ham Slimy?

There are many reasons why ham might be slimy.

At first, it might just be a harmless film formed by the deli meat’s fat. The meat’s fat can leak out and coagulate into a slimy substance.

Another explanation may be that the store where you purchased your deli meat might have utilized a piece of ham already open. Giving customers a cut of a less-than-fresh piece of meat is common, mainly if it is a cut that is not frequently sold.

Plus, both yours and the deli shop’s fridge may also cause a problem if it doesn’t work correctly. Or, the meat can be left on a dirty countertop or cut in a machine whose blade wasn’t sanitized properly, or you can simply touch it with dirty hands. [1]

It is also possible that the ham can become slimy on its way from the factory to the shop or even from the shop to your house due to the high temperatures. This is why you should only leave ham for up to two hours at room temperature, which is even shorter during summer.

Moreover, although factories nowadays have rigorous standards before letting their products leave their premises, bad meat can sometimes leave a factory.

So, what does it mean that the ham is slimy?

It means that it caught some bacteria. Let’s find out whether that bacteria ruins the ham entirely or you can still eat it.

RELATED: How to Heat Up Precooked Ham Without Drying It Out?

Is It Ok to Eat Slimy Ham?

So you’ve noticed that your ham is looking a bit slimy. And you’re probably wondering if it’s still safe to eat. Here’s the thing: slimy ham is most likely to cause food poisoning and compromise your immune system due to being colonized by bacteria. Food poisoning can cause not only mild but also pretty serious stomach problems, including diarrhea, nausea, cramps, and even fever. [2] [3]

So, the safest solution would be to throw away the slimy ham and meat in general. Besides, if you don’t think you’ll eat the ham you’ve brought home within 3 to 5 days of opening it, then you should make smaller portions and freeze them.

However, in some situations, you may eat slimy ham that has only just started to get that slimy. But do that only once you have checked its smell and its look. Sometimes, relying on your senses is the most effective solution. 

So, if your ham looks ok and doesn’t smell bad, you can prepare a meal and cook it before eating. High temperatures might kill any sliminess and bacteria and prevent them from spreading. [4]

RELATED: How to Make Precooked Ham Better? 7 Amazing Ways

What to Do with Slimy Ham?

If you notice your ham becoming slimy and sitting open in the fridge for over five days or in the freezer for more than six months, you should get rid of it. The same goes for a ham sitting in high temperatures for too long, i.e., more than an hour. 

However, if you buy a ham and immediately put it in your fridge, and after a few days you notice it to be a bit slimy, don’t panic. Check whether its look and smell have not changed, and if the ham is not too slimy, you can eat it. 

It’d be better if you cooked it in the oven and let the high heat stop slime from spreading further around the ham.

How to Store the Ham to Prevent it From Becoming Slimy?

While I have already mentioned some of the things you shouldn’t do if you want to avoid eating slimy ham, let’s ensure we know every measure we can all take to prevent this delicious meat from becoming unusable:

  • Don’t leave the ham at room temperature for too long.
  • Don’t take the whole batch if you only need a few slices.
  • Wrap the leftover ham tightly to avoid becoming slimy. You can also use a vacuum sealer.
  • Freeze the ham to extend its life.

Note that there are different types of ham, including smoked, unsmoked, cooked, uncooked, and whole-piece or sliced paper-thin, and their storage life varies. Nevertheless, after opening your ham, you should eat it within five days.

Should You Wash Slimy Ham?

You could try washing it with cold water if you notice a light slime coating on your ham. However, if the layer is thick, there is no point in doing that. 

To wash the slime, you will need to rinse the ham under cold water before you brush it. After that, mix 1 part of vinegar and three parts of water and soak the ham in that mixture for half an hour. Rinse it again and use some paper towels to pat the liquid. 

Even if you wash the slimy ham, there is no guarantee it will be safe to eat. 

How Long Does Ham Last? 

Ham is a type of meat that can last for up to two weeks in the fridge or four to six months in the freezer. Just note that after 2 months, food will deteriorate in its quality. [5]

So, if you have a whole ham, it will last for up to two weeks in the fridge or six months in the freezer. A half ham will last for up to one week in the fridge or up to three months in the freezer. And if you have pre-cooked ham, it will last up to five days in the fridge or up to four months in the freezer. [6]

That being said, the ham’s shelf life will depend on a variety of factors, such as how it was processed, how it was packaged, and how it was stored.

How to Know if Ham Is Bad?

The last thing you want is to serve your family or friends bad ham. But how can you tell if the ham has gone bad?

The best way to tell if the ham has turned bad is to look for signs of spoilage, like mold or slimy surface growth. [7] You should also sniff the ham and look for any off-smelling aromas. Even if the ham looks good, but it smells a little gross, you need to avoid eating it. Don’t eat if it smells sour, fishy, or amine.

Another sign that ham has gone bad is a color change, from pink to brownish-gray, or when a ham has some green spots and moldy areas. Plus, there is also a change in texture, and your ham will turn from being firm to looking dry and shrunken.

If you see any of these signs, throwing the ham out is best.

  • Laura is the owner of Julie's Cafe Bakery. She started this blog with her grandma Julie who introduced her to the amazing world of cooking. She likes to experiment with different flavors, and her favorite flavors combo is chicken with coconut milk, curry and peanuts!