Ham Steak In the Freezer: Sell By 3/05

It’s in that heavy pre-packaged plastic shrink wrap. Can I eat this thing? Would you eat this thing? Will it suck?

Was that the best before date when it was fresh, or was it bought as a frozen product with that date representing the end of its frozen best before life?

Either way though, if it’s vacuum-sealed, it’ll probably be fine - the biggest problem with prolonged frozen food storage is freezer burn (which is unsightly, but generally harmless), which happens when there is air in the packaging and the ice in the surface of the product sublimates.

Also… what kind of freezer are we talking about here? A deep-freezer chest will keep food much longer than the ice box compartment of the fridge.

Standard refrigerator freezer. There was no “best by” date on it…just a “sell before” date. It was in the refrigerator section of the grocery store and went immediately into my freezer. I’m making soup with the remnants of bags of pinto beans, lentils, and green peas. I have no idea how that will taste, but we’re expecting a snowstorm and I thought it would be fun to eat it while watching the flakes fly.

It’s fine, especially for soup. If, by some freak of statistics, it’s managed to grow a significant amount of bacteria in your freezer, it’ll be killed by the soup making process. The more likely problem is freezer burn, which will mostly go away in soup as well - it might be a little more stringy than normal, but ham in good pea soup is generally a little stringy anyway.

Go for it. Vacuum-sealed and frozen makes it pretty safe from anything. Enjoy your soup.

One possible pitfall is some kind of enzymatic rancidity or oxidation of the fats - this is something that does progress slowly even when the bacteria are all asleep. Worst case there (I reckon) is that it will taste mank.

I’d be able to smell that, wouldn’t I? I’d rather be aromatically offended than ingest a spew-worthy hunk o’ ham…know what I mean?

I think it would be fine for soup. If it smells off, toss it, otherwise make split pea or black bean or something. Enjoy. Minestrone is good with ham, too.

Well, I cut it up and it smelled fine, so in the pot it went. Texture was ok, too.

I put in a can of stewed tomatos, an onion, and I’m going to try to scare up some carrots. Oregano, fresh parsley, basil, garlic, salt and pepper, and crushed chilis…really gives it a nice kick. Smells heavenly, though I will have to add more garlic.

That goes without saying.

Try adding a tot or two of vermouth to the suop a few minutes before serving. Yum!

Dinner at Kalhoun’s! I’ll bring pie.

But if the bacteria managed to produce a significant amount of toxins, those would not be removed by the soup-making process.

Seems unlikely in this situation, but just keep in mind that boiling doesn’t make everything safe to eat.

I’ve only got a few slices of garlic bread, so if you can pick some up, that would be great.

Also, if you could pick up a crisp chardonnay I’ll pay you for it when you get here.

I could tell you the age of some of the things that have come out of either my, or my mother’s freezer, and been served successfully, but you’d be afraid…

As long as it’s not freezer burned, it’s ok (safe) to eat, as long as it’s been rock solid frozen the entire time. Flavor may (likely will be, to at least some degree) be affected, but in a soup it’s not likely to be noticed… as above, much of this is also reduced by the cryo-vac seal that this came in… and ham is usually a bit salty anyway, which is yet another preservative.