Ask your butcher to leave the bone in when you place your order for a ham.Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
Like many types of meat, ham tends to develop a deeper flavor when it is cooked on the bone. Boneless varieties are convenient for slicing, but leaving the bone in takes it to a different level. The best part is that you can use the hambone to create even more delicious meals, such as soups. Freeze the hambone, as well as other parts of the ham for later use, if you have a lot of leftovers and won't be eating them the next day.
Video of the Day
Whether it has been stripped clean or still has some meat holding on, freeze the hambone when you've completed your meal. Place the hambone into a large, resealable freezer bag or freezer-safe container that's air-tight. Label the bag or container with the date and the contents, then place it into the freezer. Slice or cube the remainder of the ham meat and follow the same procedure. Portion ham into several freezer bags if you plan to use smaller amounts at different times.
Keep Meats Separate
When you are setting up freezer bags and containers to fill with leftover meats, use a different bag for each type you are freezing. If you happen to have the hambone, a chicken carcass and some beef bones ready to freeze, place them into their own individual bags. The same goes for any meat that was once attached to the bones. Hambones and ham meat may be stored together, just keep the different types of meat separated to avoid the risk of cross-contamination.
As long as your hambone is in an airtight bag or container, you can safely keep it in the freezer forever. However, for quality purposes, you may not want to cook up a dish with your frozen hambone five years down the road. Plan to use it within a year, and the quality should be where you want it to be.
A hambone provides a flavor base for a number of soups, such as split pea or ham and cauliflower. When you plan to use the bone or the ham meat, place the container in the fridge the night before to thaw. Add the bone to a soup pot, along with chopped onion, garlic, celery, carrots and a couple bay leaves, then fill the pot with water. After a few hours, you will have a flavorful base for your homemade soup. Add cubed ham meat to the soup, or to casseroles and omelettes.