HOG WASH: Whale City Butchery owner Gary Richards shares his top tips for keeping your Christmas ham fresh.
HOG WASH: Whale City Butchery owner Gary Richards shares his top tips for keeping your Christmas ham fresh. Jodie Callcott

TOP TIPS: Bay butcher shares secret to keeping ham fresh

THERE'S nothing more iconic than tucking into an Aussie ham on Christmas Day.

It's usually served cold with salad and enjoyed for days after the big man in the red suit drops by.

But if there's one thing we can be sure of, it's that there's always leftovers.

One of Hervey Bay's most passionate butchers has shared his secret to keeping your Christmas ham fresh and bacteria-free.

Whale City Wholesale and Bulk Meats owner Gary Richards describes himself as a traditional butcher who produces old-style hams.

Mr Richards said there were a few factors involved in keeping your Christmas ham fresh but it started with how it was stored.

"We've got a calico bag that we sell for $1.50," he said.

"With that bag what you do is the old vinegar trick.

"You soak the bag in a bowl or bucket of water with vinegar in the water.

"Ring the bag out and put your ham in it.

"And always leave the skin on your ham so it doesn't dry out."

He said having a cold fridge and refreshing the ham bag helped to prevent bacteria from damaging theham.

"Every couple of days I would suggest just giving the bag another rinse in the vinegar water and put your ham back inside," he said.

"White vinegar is the greatest at preventing bacteria.

"You can buy (temperature) probes and put them in your fridge to check but your fridge has to be under five degrees otherwise you're going tohave problems with your food.

"And I always say to people, unless you've got 10-12 people staying at your house for at least three days, do not get a whole ham.

"You can get a whole ham but you're better off getting the butcher to cut it in half and cryovac it.

"So when you eat one half, the next half will be fresh as a daisy when you want to eat it."

Mr Richards also urged shoppers to support their local butcher.

"Always buy a ham from a butcher, and your sausages, because a butcher cares and takes pride in making sausages and hams," he said. "If you go to a local butcher, you'll always get superior quality and your products will last longer.

"That's my recommendation, butchers are the best."


1. Remove your ham from its wrapping and wipe away any residue

2. Mix two cups of cold water with one tablespoon of white vinegar in a large bowl

3. Soak the ham bag in the mixture for two to three minutes

4. Squeeze excess moisture from the ham bag

5. Place your ham in the ham bag and refrigerate.

It's advisable to repeat steps two to five every three to four days. This will ensure your ham is always fresh and moist