How long past the "buy before" date do ham hocks keep? They've been refrigerated, have no mold or off smell.


Smoking, which imparts wonderful flavor, is also a preservation method. In fact, that is how it was started. A smoked ham hock will have a low moisture content and long shelf life. Sell by dates are estimates, so this hock is good for quite a while after the date. Remember, too, that a 'Buy before' date then has a shelf life after it.

All that being said, there are official food safety guidelines, then there are the practices that many people use all over the world. A smoked, refrigerated hock should be good for weeks, even months, unless someone is infirm or has weak immune system, or that particular piece of meat is statistically loaded with bacteria. A couple days, a week is totally fine. You can freeze it to extend the life, since it will most likely be simmered for a while when used.

Really it is a choice between going by printed shelf life guidelines and using your judgement and past experience.

  • Do watch out for hocks that aren't actually smoked though. many of the houghs available in Scotland these days are actually only flavoured with liquid smoke and haven't had that drying. They are preserved with nitrates and nitrites, but pretty wet. – Spagirl Feb 13 '18 at 14:19
  • @Spagirl. Great point. In the case you mention, the nitrates will help to slow bacterial growth, but the clock is ticking faster. – MarsJarsGuitars-n-Chars Feb 13 '18 at 16:39

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