When you store cured meats one would think they would have a long shelf life – after all, they have been curing for months before they ended up on your table. So why is it that prosciutto and salami don’t taste quite right after a day in the pantry?
It turns out that the shelf life of cured meats is not nearly as long as one might think. And the correct way to store it is not room temperature in the pantry. Even though meats like prosciutto and salami have been cured, they need to be chilled when stored. The ideal temperature is above freezing, but below 45 degrees F. In addition, you should never store cured meats close to foods like cheeses, and they should be kept far from the light.
Prosciutto has a shorter shelf life than salami once cut, since it is typically so thin. You should not eat prosciutto after three days. Deli-style salami is good for 3-5 days if refrigerated and sliced hard salami can be kept refrigerated for up to two weeks.
Unrefrigerated cured meats lose their moisture once sliced. The loss of moisture leads to the loss of flavor and makes the once-delicious meats no longer edible.
The bad news is that cured meats cannot be stored in the freezer, so do not try to freeze prosciuttos, hams, or salamis to extend their life. Freezing temperatures cause meat to lose its characteristic tenderness and flavor.
The best way to make cured meats last is to store the meat properly. You should first wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, trying to remove any possible air pockets. Then store it in the fridge as far from the light as possible.
The best option however, is to eat it as soon as you buy it, when the flavors and textures are perfect. But with as delicious as our cured meats are, most Carnivore Club members do not have a problem eating them right away!