Be sure you understand the kind of ham you purchase so you know how to store it properly. Consumers may purchase fresh ham (uncured), dry cured, wet cured or cured and smoked ham. You must fully cook fresh ham before consuming it, and you must keep it chilled in the refrigerator. The curing processes preserve the meat and add flavors and seasonings. Consequently, cured ham generally does not require further cooking unless you want to warm it before serving.
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Read the label on the ham before purchasing to determine its type. If the ham has a label that warns you must cook it before consuming, it is a fresh ham. You must refrigerate these hams. If the ham has a curing label, determine whether it is a dry curing or a wet curing.
Dry cured hams can be stored at room temperature in the original packaging for at least one year. The ham will still be safe to consume after one year, but the quality will begin to deteriorate.
Wet cured hams can be stored in the original packaging at room temperature for up to two years as long as the package does not specify refrigerating it.