Jul 6, 2023
Ham always goes with almost everything. It’s great for sandwiches, make fabulous, simple dinners, and can add flavor to soups and stocks. It doesn’t last long, though, and can spoil in your bag when you take it on trips. Here’s how to freeze dry ham so you’ll have flavorful meat when you need it.
You can freeze dry any ham, whether smoked, cut, cured, cooked, or aged. If you dislike pork ham, you can use turkey ham as a delicious alternative. These freeze dry well because they’re leaner than pork.
If you got raw ham, you can freeze-dry it as is or cook it first before freeze-drying. Cooking not only makes the ham easy to eat with simple rehydration. It also helps render off some of the fat.
Slice the ham according to your preferred thickness. You can slice them thinly for sandwiches or as thick as steaks for a satisfying dinner. However, the slices shouldn’t be more than 3/4 of an inch thick, or they won’t freeze dry well. You can also slice them into cubes or pull them apart for an interesting texture.
But most importantly, you need to trim off the fat. We know that’s where the flavor and moisture come in. Unfortunately, fat doesn’t freeze dry well, so you must take out as much as possible. Then, you can put the trimmings in the freezer and use them for other meals.
Also, take out the bone for bone-in ham. They don’t freeze dry well and can cause spoilage when you store your ham.
Pre-freezing is optional for solid food but can help your freeze-drying process. Especially when it comes to meat. They can take long to freeze in your freeze dryer and create delays in your freeze drying ques.
If you have a deep freezer, whether chest-type or upright, put it to good use. Line the trays with parchment paper, then place your sliced ham for freezing. Extra freeze dryer trays will work too. This way, your cured meat’s freezing while you have a batch of food freeze-drying.
Pre-freezing the trays also help keep temperatures stable in your freeze dryer. However, putting in warm trays can shock your unit, especially if you have warm food. Also, you risk melting on the surface of your cured meat if it touches a warm tray.
Got your ham ready? Then let’s begin freeze-drying!
Depending on the thickness and how much meat you have, freeze-drying ham can take 24-38 hours. The good thing about Harvest Right freeze dryers is you can extend the drying time when you’re out on an errand. Which is often why some freeze-drying sessions take longer.
The best way to test your meat is to take out the trays while they’re still warm. Then, touch the surface of the ham and see if any pieces are cool, soft, or moist.
For thick ham slices, break the thick pieces and check the center. It can also help if you eat a piece, but do this only for cooked ham. The sample should be dry, crunchy, and flakey in texture before it softens in your mouth.
Rehydrating freeze-dried cured meat is easy. Soak them in hot water for an hour or in your fridge overnight for thick slices. Thinner slices need barely 5 minutes to rehydrate.
If you’re going to cook the cured meat in a sauce, gravy, or soup, there is no need to rehydrate it. Just put the ham in the pot and add water as necessary because it will suck up moisture.
Store the ham in Mylar bags for long-term storage. These bags are also great for traveling because they keep away moisture and air and are lightweight. You can cram them in your bag and not worry about broken shards when you’re digging for a treat.
Mason jars are also excellent. They’re solid and dependable in keeping your meat intact. Especially if you prefer beautiful flat slices of cured meat for a presentable dinner. They do take up storage space and allow light to get in, so store them in a dark place.
Always remember to throw in 1-2 pieces of 300cc oxygen absorbers for every gallon-size container. Especially for Mason jars since they have a lot of air space. This is to prevent oxidation in your food. Oxidation has been known to promote inflammatory conditions in the stomach. By putting oxygen absorbers, you lessen the risk of oxidation and keep your food healthy for eating.
Properly stored freeze-dried ham can last you for 25 years or more. Your storage room should be light-free, draft-free, and moisture-free. Keep the temperature below 72°F (22°C), and your cured meat will last for decades.
Where did you get your ham, and what do you plan to use it for after freeze-drying? Let us know in the comment section.
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