How Long Does Prosciutto Last?

Prosciutto is pretty expensive, so you definitely don’t want to leave it long enough for it to go bad. How long does prosciutto last?

No matter if you’re buying this dry ham pre-packaged or order at your local grocery store, you should know how long is prosciutto good for.

In this article, we cover storage, shelf life, and signs of spoiled prosciutto. And where it’s important, we talk about the differences between cured (prosciutto crudo) and cooked (prosciutto cotto) variety.

Note

We’re not only talking about authentic prosciutto (sometimes called Parma ham) that originates from Italy (cities like Parma or San Danielle might ring a bell). The same guidelines apply to generic dry ham often labeled as prosciutto.

Prosciutto package in hand
Prosciutto package in hand

How To Store Prosciutto

Same as with ham, keep prosciutto in the fridge ([USDA]) and wrapped tightly.

If you’re buying it pre-packaged, the plastic packaging is often resealable. That makes sealing any leftover slices a breeze.

If that’s not an option, wrap the prosciutto tightly in plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or paper. This way, you have a layer of separation.

This way, the ham doesn’t get in contact with any bacteria, dry out, or pick up any smells. Or make your whole refrigerator smell like prosciutto (as tempting as this might be).

Tip

You can freeze prosciutto that’s wrapped if you need more storage time. Put the ham in a freezer bag for extra protection.

If you’re buying this dry ham at the deli counter, it’s usually well wrapped. Use that wrap until you finish the ham.

Resealable prosciutto package
Resealable prosciutto package

How Long Does Prosciutto Last?

Let’s start with the pre-packaged variety.

There’s usually a date on the label, and it’s a good starting point. Pre-packaged prosciutto tends to last 2 to 3 months ([USDA]), but again, check with the label.

Since the ham is sealed airtight, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t keep quality for an extra week or two. Of course, the longer it sits in the fridge, the worse its quality,

Baked prosciutto on bagels

Once you open the package, try to finish the ham within two to four days. You can often find similar info on the label as well.

Tip

If you know you won’t be able to eat the leftover slices within a couple of days, wrap and freeze them.

When it comes to prosciutto bought at the deli counter, it’s the same as open prosciutto. That means you should buy only as much as you need for the next 3 to 4 days tops, and eat the ham within that period.

Fridge
Pre-packaged prosciutto (unopened)Date on the label + 7 – 14 days
Pre-packaged prosciutto (opened)2 – 4 days
Prosciutto bought at the deli2 – 4 days

Please note the periods in the table above are only estimates.

Bagels with prosciutto and grated cheese
Bagels with prosciutto and grated cheese

How To Tell If Prosciutto Is Bad?

For starters, let’s talk about how your prosciutto should look like.

Prosciutto crudo (cured variety) should be deep red (or pink, depending on whom you ask), similar to what you can see in my photos. White ribbons of fat should be clearly visible here and there. And it should smell sweet.

Prosciutto cotto (cooked variety) should be pale pink, and those ribbons of fat should be slimmer (still noticeable, though). In short, it looks like the classic American deli ham ([TCB]).

Tip

If the label doesn’t say if it’s cured or cooked, it’s most likely the former (the crudo variety).

Baked prosciutto closeup
Baked prosciutto closeup

Now that you know how the ham should look like, let’s cover how to tell if it’s spoiled or not. Here’s what you should look for:

  • Change of color. If the ham starts turning grey, darkens, or the color is noticeably different from what it was when you’ve bought it, it’s spoiled.
  • Mold. If you can see any signs of mold or any other funny business going on on the surface of the ham, toss it.
  • Bad smell. Cured prosciutto should smell somewhat sweet, while cooked prosciutto should smell like deli ham. If you notice that yours starts to smell foul or there’s something wrong with its odor, get rid of it.
  • Too long storage time. If your opened prosciutto sits in the fridge for over a week, discard it for safety reasons. Yes, even if it seems to be perfectly fine.
Tip

If you’ve ever seen or smelt old ham, you will know if your prosciutto is spoiled or not. In my experience, the altered smell is the first sign that your ham isn’t safe to eat anymore.

Baked bagels with prosciutto
Baked bagels with prosciutto

Sources