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I just got a frozen ham. I have never dealt with a ham before.

  1. If I don't need to eat it now, should I put it in the freezer or refrigerator? The package says "keep refrigerated". Does it mean it can be stored in the refrigerator at a temperature higher than 0°C?

  2. If I want to eat it now, should I thaw the ham first by putting it in the refrigerator or outside at the room temperature?

  3. After it is thawed, is it easy to use a regular knife to cut it into pieces? Note that the ham weighs about 4 lbs.

  4. Since it is smoked, does it mean it is already cooked thoroughly or is it still raw? Do I need to cook it, and if yes, how?

boneless smoked ham

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Okay, there are a couple kinds of hams that you can deal with -

Dry cured - these hams are rubbed externally with a salt mixture, get covered with the salt mixture, which draws out much of the moisture, then are hung to further dry, and are smoked. These are also called "country" hams in the USA, and cured meats like Black Forest hams (Germany), jamon (Spain), prosciutto (Italy) all fall under this category, as well. Since they have such a low moisture content and a lot of the salt is in the meat, you would not receive this as frozen. These arrive in boxes, usually in some kind of a mesh or cloth bag, and can be kept at room temperature until you cook them. They do need to be scrubbed, skin and fat trimmed away, cooked in liquid to partially rehydrate, then cooked, thoroughly. These take a lot more time and effort to make, and their cost reflects that, but the flavor, because of less water content, is very intense. It is fantastic sliced thin after cooled/cold, as well.

Wikipedia - country hams

Most hams eaten in the USA, and ones that you generally buy at a grocery store, are water cured hams. The fact that it was frozen, the appearance, packaging and ingredients list all identify the ham you are asking about as a water cured ham. A saline/sugar/water solution is used to brine the ham.

While you can keep it in the fridge for a while, the brining method used here is more for flavor, not preservation, and those hams will go bad if you just leave them in the fridge for a long period of time.

Here is the USDA site with information about it, along with cooking times -

Ham that - USDA

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Hams are either ready-to-eat or not, thus spoke the USDA. And, by its regulations, a ham that must be cooked has to show cooking and safe handling instructions.

Hams that are not ready-to-eat, but have the appearance of ready-to-eat products, will bear a prominent statement on the principal display panel (label) indicating the product needs cooking, e.g., "cook thoroughly." In addition, the label must bear cooking directions

The 'cured with' portion tells you that you have a wet-cured ham, one that was either injected or soaked in a solution of water and salt, sugar, etc. According to the label, it was smoked after curing.

Yes, you can keep it in the freezer, frozen; in the refrigerator section, it will gradually come to the same temperature as that area, which is how you would want to thaw before use. It will slice like other proteins, such as chicken or beef, using a regular knife. It is ready to consume, sliced, diced, or chopped into a ham salad. It can be fried up as a breakfast steak or heated, either as is, or glazed and oven-baked to 140°F internal temperature (safe because it is cured and pre-cooked).

  • Does the labeling rule apply to what might be not originally intended for sale to end customers? ("FOODSERVICE") – Stephie Nov 15 '16 at 19:15
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    @Stephie I would think even more so; it bears the USDA stamp, as it has to, and should it be uncooked, it would also be required to have the warning and cooking instructions. – Giorgio Nov 15 '16 at 19:23

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