Oddly enough, Spam may be the most interesting of all processed meats, despite people being quite divided on the taste of it. This humble canned meat, the name of which comes from the contraction for Spiced Ham has its origins in 1930’s America – 1937 to be exact.
Once the USA went to war during WWII, so did Spam. But then, oddly enough, years later Spam made its way into a 1970 skit in Monty Python’s Flying Circus where a restaurant serves all its food with Spam, and eventually, a song about Spam breaks out. Finally, Spam is perhaps most often used nowadays to refer to the unsolicited and annoying emails that clog up our inbox. And wouldn’t ya know it? After one of the first commercial instances of email spam, the developers who identified the mass mailing called it spam. Since they were fans of Monty Python, they coined the term spam in reference to the skit.
But, of course, you probably didn’t come here for a history lesson on Spam!
If you enjoy eating Spam (the luncheon meat, not the junk mail) but you can’t finish the entire can for whatever reason, you may be wondering how to prolong its shelf life. Can you freeze spam? The answer is yes! You can certainly freeze spam after it’s been opened, but you should avoid freezing unopened Spam. I’ll discuss that more later though.
Does Spam Freeze Well?
Yes, Spam does in fact freeze quite well. However you should freeze it the correct way for the best results.
Freezing Spam is a smart way to store it for an extended period of time compared to when it’s stored in a fridge.
Freezing preserves the quality of Spam lunch meat by deactivating the microbes like bacteria, yeast, or microorganisms that lead to food spoilage and/or foodborne illnesses. This is only when for when it’s frozen, though. Once it’s been defrosted the microorganism activity will resume and you should eat it within a few days.
If you defrost it within a good amount of time then you should be able to use it in any way that you would use Spam that hasn’t been frozen. My personal favorite foods to add Spam to are pasta and fried rice!
Can You Freeze Spam After Opening?
Freezing Spam after it’s been opened is actually the preferred way to store it for longer periods of time. If you’re going to store Spam in the fridge after it’s been opened, it’ll only last about three or four days if it’s been sealed and covered properly.
By preparing it and storing the leftover Spam in the freezer properly it can last months! You shouldn’t just put the open container directly into the freezer though. That’ll result in it both freezer burn as well as perhaps an unpleasant smell emanating throughout your freezer.
Should You Freeze Unopened Spam?
While you technically can freeze unopened Spam, it’s definitely not recommended. The process of it freezing it inside the container isn’t actually the problem.
The problem of freezing an unopened can of Spam is the seal. In some instances perhaps only the can expands and the seal stays completely intact. However, if the seal breaks then it will ruin the frozen Spam by exposing it to air.
The worst-case scenario is the seal completely bursting, making a mess of Spam in your freezer. So, to avoid such a devastating mess (and waste of food) it’s best to not freeze unopened Spam.
It’s actually very unlikely that you’ll ever need to freeze unopened Spam as it’s designed to last for years. Since it’s a canned food, highly processed, and has a lot of preservatives like sodium nitrite, it can stay good for a very long time, around three to five years. No wonder it was used in the military, right?
How Long Does Spam Last in the Freezer?
If it’s been properly frozen, opened Spam can last as long as three months. If it hasn’t been exposed to light, heat fluctuations, or air, it can likely even last longer. However, while it will likely be safe to eat nearly indefinitely, the overall quality of it will begin to degrade. So, it’s best to try to defrost it and eat as soon as you can.
When it comes to unopened Spam, if you decide to play Russian roulette and put an unopened container in the freezer, then assuming it doesn’t explode it can last nearly indefinitely. However, it’s likely that eventually, the seal will fail.
So, if possible, store the can in a cool, dark place and you should last between three and five years. And then only freeze it after it’s been opened.
How to Freeze Spam
As I’ve discussed, you should generally only freeze opened Spam that’s been taken out of the can. After it’s been taken out of the can you should follow these steps:
- Prepare the Spam by slicing it and then sectioning out desired portions. More portions are better so you don’t have to defrost more than you plan on using.
- Gather the freezer bag or containers that you plan on storing the Spam and line them with wax paper. This will prevent the meat from sticking to the sides, making it much easier to take out.
- Place the Spam in the bags or containers but be careful to avoid overfilling them. To prevent the pieces of Spam from freezing together you can place pieces of wax paper between them as well. If you’re using a container you can stack rows of slices on each other and separate each row with a sheet of wax paper.
- Label the bags or containers so you don’t forget the date that you put them in there. While it can be good for some months, it can be too easy to lose track of the time.
- Place the bags or containers in the freezer.
How to Thaw Spam
There are three preferred ways to defrost Spam: in the microwave, in the fridge, and in cold water. As with other frozen food, you should avoid leaving frozen spam out at room temperature to defrost.
To defrost it in the microwave, place the desired amount of Spam on a microwave-safe plate and use the defrost setting (or 30% power) for 8-10 minutes per pound. You can adjust it accordingly depending on how much Spam you are defrosting. However, the drawback to defrosting Spam in the microwave is that it will likely defrost unevenly and perhaps even start to cook. But if you plan on cooking with it and adding it to a dish and you’re in a hurry, this is the best option. You should also use it immediately.
The next quickest method is by placing the Spam in cold water. To do it this way, it should be in an impermeable plastic bag so water can’t seep into the Spam. Then submerge the bag in a large bowl of cool water. Change the water every 30 minutes and repeat this until it’s defrosted. It should also be used immediately if it’s been defrosted by this method.
Lastly, the best but slowest method is by simply placing the frozen Spam in the fridge. Usually, it will defrost overnight, but it depends on how thick the slices are and if they’re frozen together. It can last for up to three days if kept in the fridge.
How To Tell if Spam Has Gone Bad
Like other meat, use your senses to see if it’s bad. Spoiled Spam will have an off odor, change in color, or have a strange flavor. If you notice any of these changes in the Spam, it’s best to discard it.