Des Munroe, of Off The Bone Butcher in Maroochydore, urges Coast residents to look after their Christmas hams.
Des Munroe, of Off The Bone Butcher in Maroochydore, urges Coast residents to look after their Christmas hams. John Mccutcheon

So how long can a Christmas Ham really last?

CHRISTMAS ham is one of the delights of the festive season, but as the days in the fridge tick by, many of us start to wonder how long we can safely expect our tasty cured hock to last.

Fear not, we have the answer for you - or at least, Off The Bone butcher Des Munroe does.

A good ham should last two to three weeks, if the eater looks after it, Des says.

Looking after a cured ham means keeping it moist, in a proper calico "ham bag" or a even a clean moist pillowcase, he said.

"Keep it wet, with a little bit of vinegar and water - that'll help," he said. Dip the bag in the vinegary solution, rinse it and dip it again so it's fresh. Repeat every three to four days, as per Ham Bag instructions, Des says.

Your ham needs to be kept in the coolest part of your fridge, he says.

Don't leave it lying around on the bench, but whip it back into the fridge as soon as you've cut your slices.

People often left ham out of the fridge for their extended enjoyment, but this was dangerous, Des said.

"They take it out of the fridge, cut their meat off it, go have lunch, and come back to it," he said. "They're really putting their health at risk if they leave it go (for) too long.

"If they're not going to use it just bang it in the freezer."

Cured ham freezes well, and its bone makes a mean pea and ham soup, said Des.

Ham and eggs, ham sandwiches, ham salads, carbonara pasta and fried rice were on his list of dishes with festive leftovers.

Asked how to tell when the ham has gone bad, he laughed and said: "You'll know".

"It'll go all slimy and it won't taste good, that's for sure," he said.

Maroochydore general practitioner John Kenafake warned Coast residents that food poisoning was more common in the warmer weather we're now experiencing.

"Food poisoning happens all times of the year but it's probably more common over the summer months," he said.

"If you don't look after food it's easy for bacteria to grow."

"We're all covered in bacteria, its everywhere. Fridges are means of preserving meat but that doesn't protect them indefinitely."

He said keeping a hygienic kitchen was very important for avoiding food poisoning.

Tips for keeping your kitchen clean:

Wash and dry utensils as soon as you've used them.

Keep your bench tops clean

Clean and dry dish cloths, sponges and other cleaning implements

Keep cutlery and cutlery drawers clean

Check use by dates on food and always 'sniff test' before using.


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