Spam, a pantry staple known for its versatility and convenience often finds its way into meals across diverse cuisines worldwide.
Once the can is opened, questions arise about its longevity in the fridge. Yet, the lingering query remains: How long does spam last in the fridge after opening?
Understanding the duration for which opened spam remains safe to consume is crucial for both culinary planning and food safety.
This article delves into the shelf life of spam after opening, exploring the factors influencing its freshness, best storage practices, and essential tips to ensure its longevity in the refrigerator.
By unraveling these details, readers can confidently navigate the post-opening phase of their beloved canned meat, ensuring both taste and safety in their culinary endeavors.
What actually is spam?
Spam is a canned meat product that gained widespread popularity for its convenience, affordability, and long shelf life.
First introduced by the Hormel Foods Corporation in 1937, it is made primarily from pork shoulder meat combined with ham. Its name is a portmanteau of “spiced ham,” highlighting its seasoned and processed nature.
The ingredients are ground together, mixed with salt, sugar, water, and sodium nitrite (a preservative). Then, this iconic product is cooked, and sealed in a can using a special process, allowing it to remain shelf-stable for an extended period.
Although it initially gained prominence during wartime due to its durability and easy storage, spam has since become a versatile ingredient used in various cuisines worldwide.
Its distinctive taste and ability to adapt to different recipes have cemented its place in culinary culture, being fried, baked, grilled, or added to a variety of dishes, showcasing its flexibility beyond its humble canned form.
How long does spam last in the fridge after opening?
Despite being a canned product, once opened, spam is subject to spoilage like any other perishable food item, so it’s advisable to consume it within the recommended time frame for optimal safety and quality.
After opening, spam typically lasts in the refrigerator for about 3-5 days according to the manufacturing companies. However, it typically lasts 7-10 days maximum when stored properly.
It is because refrigeration slows bacterial growth and preserves the meat’s quality, taste and texture. However, this duration can be influenced by factors such as how well it’s sealed, the temperature of the refrigerator, and any exposure to contaminants or moisture.
How long does unopened spam last?
Unlike opened spam, uopened spam when stored properly in a cool, dry place such as a pantry or cupboard can last for an extended period. Typically, it lasts between 2 to 5 years from the date of manufacture.
This longevity is due to the canning process and the addition of preservatives that inhibit bacterial growth and maintain the product’s quality for longer.
Also, the expiration date printed on the can provides a good guideline for its shelf life. However, the spam often remains safe to eat beyond this date if the can is undamaged, properly sealed, and has been stored in favorable conditions.
Moreover, several factors such as temperature fluctuations, exposure to sunlight, and damage to the spam can affect its longevity.
Why is refrigeration essential after opening spam?
Refrigerating spam after opening is a crucial process to preserve its quality and prevent spoilage.
Once the can is opened, the contents inside the can are exposed to air and bacteria that accelerates microbial growth and spoilage.
Refrigeration slows down this process significantly by creating a cooler environment that inhibits the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms which in return extend the shelf life of leftover spam.
Additionally, storing opened spam in the refrigerator at low temperatures helps maintain its freshness and extends its shelf life. Also, the low temperature in the fridge minimises the risks of foodborne illness.
How to store spam in the fridge properly?
Storing spam in the fridge is a simple and straightforward process. It involves a few key steps to maintain its freshness and longevity:
- Transfer to an Airtight Container: Once opened, transfer the leftover spam to an airtight container. If you desire, you can also tightly wrap the opened can with plastic wrap or foil. This prevents exposure to air and moisture, preserving the quality of spam.
- Place in the Right Section: Store the sealed container or wrapped can in the refrigerator’s main body and not the door. The door experiences temperature fluctuations due to frequent opening and closing which might affect the spam’s freshness.
- Label and Date: Consider labeling the container with the date when you opened the spam and expiration. This helps keep track of its freshness and ensures you consume it within the recommended time frame.
- Store: Once labelled, place the opened can or airtight container of spam in the refrigerator. Consistent cold temperatures of refrigerators inhibit bacterial growth and extend the shelf life of the spam.
- Use Within a Week: Consume the opened spam within 5 to 10 days for optimal quality and safety.
Common mistakes to avoid when storing opened spam
While storing opened spam in the fridge, there are a few common mistakes to avoid to preserve its quality and safety:
- Leaving it in the Open Can: Transferring the remaining spam into an airtight container or wrapping it tightly with plastic wrap is crucial. Leaving it in the open can exposes it to air which can accelerate spoilage and affect its taste and texture.
- Storing in the Door Shelves: While the fridge door might seem convenient, it experiences temperature fluctuations due to frequent opening. Store the spam in the main body of the fridge where temperature is more consistent.
- Not Checking for Spoilage: Neglecting to check for signs of spoilage regularly can lead to consuming spoiled food. Inspect the spam for any changes in color, odor, or texture. If it looks or smells off, it is safer to discard it.
- Allowing Cross-Contamination: Avoid storing the opened spam next to raw meats or other perishable items that might transfer bacteria. Make sure to keep it separate or in sealed containers to prevent cross-contamination and microbial growth.
- Ignoring the Recommended Time Frame: Despite proper storage, opened spam should be consumed within 5 to 10 days for optimal freshness and safety. Ignoring this timeframe might risk consuming spoiled food.
Can you freeze open spam?
Technically, you can freeze open spam but it is not generally recommended due to changes in texture and potential flavor alterations upon thawing.
Freezing can slightly alter the texture of the meat resulting in a less desirable consistency when it’s thawed. While freezing can halt bacterial growth and extend its shelf life, the quality may be a bit affected.
Therefore, if you choose to freeze open spam, ensure it is tightly wrapped in freezer-safe packaging to prevent freezer burn and the absorption of odors from other foods.
Properly stored frozen spam can last for one to three months easily without a significant loss in texture and quality.
Signs of spoiled spam
Determining if spam has gone bad involves using your senses to detect any changes. Here are some signs that might help you identify if spam has spoiled:
- Foul Odor: A strong, unpleasant, or sour smell is a significant indicator of spoilage. If the spam emits an off or rancid odor, it’s likely gone bad and should be discarded.
- Unusual Texture: Spoiled spam might develop a slimy or unusually mushy texture. If the texture feels slippery or excessively soft, it’s clear a sign that it’s no longer safe to eat.
- Changes in Color: Any significant changes in color such as darkening or the presence of unusual spots or discoloration could signify spoilage.
- Abnormal Appearance: If you notice mold growth or any signs of bacterial or fungal growth on the surface of the spam, it has definitely spoiled and should be discarded.
What are the health risks associated with eating expired spam?
Consuming expired or spoiled spam can pose several health risks. Bacterial contamination in spoiled meat products like spam can lead to foodborne illnesses such as food poisoning.
These illnesses often present symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and in severe cases, more serious complications.
Bacteria like Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium botulinum, and others might proliferate in spoiled or expired meat causing these health issues.
Additionally, mold growth on spoiled spam can produce mycotoxins which can be harmful if ingested.
Is it ok to eat spam raw?
No, it’s not safe to eat spam raw. Spam is a canned meat product that requires proper cooking before consumption to eliminate harmful bacteria and ensure it is safe to eat.
Why is spam so yummy?
Spam’s appeal lies in its savory and salty flavor profile that makes it a versatile ingredient in various dishes. Its blend of spices and seasonings combined with its unique texture, contributes to its distinct taste. It is appealing to many taste preferences worldwide.
What do you eat with spam?
Spam pairs well with a range of dishes including breakfast classics like scrambled eggs or as a component in breakfast sandwiches. It is also popular in Hawaiian cuisine served alongside rice or incorporated into dishes like Spam musubi.
Is it ok to microwave spam?
Yes, it’s safe to microwave spam. To heat it thoroughly, place sliced or diced spam on a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a paper towel to prevent splattering. Microwave it in short intervals, checking and stirring as needed until it reaches the desired temperature.
Spam, a canned meat product renowned for its versatility and long shelf life has secured its place in kitchens worldwide. As a pantry staple, questions about its longevity after opening often arise.
Understanding the proper storage in the fridge and the factors influencing its freshness is crucial for making the most of this beloved canned meat.
Properly handled spam will last for 7-10 days in the fridge without significant loss of taste and quality.
Patti began her writing career as a staff writer for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Still based in Florida, Patti serves as editor for Fort Lauderdale on the Cheap. She regularly writes about environmental, home improvement, education, recycling, art, architecture, wildlife, travel and pet topics.