There’s nothing better than a fresh steak cooked to perfection. However, it’s important to know how to store your steak properly to keep it fresh and ready for cooking.
So, if you’re unsure about how to store steaks correctly, you’re in the right place! Here, I’m going to go through some important things here. Including, how long you’re able to store your steak in the fridge, how to properly store it, and how to freeze it.
Hopefully this handy guide will help you to perfectly store your steak! Everyone wants fresh meat when the time comes to cook it, right?
How Long Can Steak Be Stored In The Fridge?
Steak can only be stored in the fridge for a short period of time before it begins to go bad. There are a few factors that go into determining exactly how long it will be able to last in the fridge.
Two important factors include the temperature of the fridge, and how your steak is packaged. Ultimately, the average time your steak can be stored in the fridge is between 3-5 days.
It isn’t recommended to consume a steak after the 5-day mark unless it still looks 100% healthy and edible. If there are any signs of it going bad, even if they are minor, it’s best to not eat it.
Why Doesn’t Steak Last Long In The Fridge?
Whether your steak is cooked or raw, it doesn’t stay unspoiled in the fridge for too long. This can happen for a number of reasons, which I will look at below:
Raw steak, if it came from a butcher, will have been sat in their cases. These cases are usually open-air, so the steak will have been exposed to oxygen and potentially airborne pathogens. Chances are, the steak has also been sitting there a while – a few hours at least.
When this steak is then sold, it’s usually wrapped in either plastic or paper, and tied off with a rubber band. This isn’t airtight packaging, which means that the steak will still be exposed to oxygen and pathogens.
Steaks that are pre-packaged or vacuum-sealed will last a little bit longer, as they will be exposed to less oxygen and pathogens.
Ultimately, it’s the amount of oxygen exposure the steak receives before it reaches you that determines its short fridge life. This is typically a pretty significant amount, which leads to the steak not lasting very long.
Cooked steak has slightly different reasoning as to why it has such a short lifespan, even if kept refrigerated.
This is because bacteria will grow on the steak, even after it’s cooked. While refrigerating the steak will help to slow the bacterial growth, it won’t stop it completely.
As such, there is a short time period in which the steak is still suitable for eating once it has been kept in the fridge. After a few days, the bacteria growth will be too much to be considered safe to eat.
How To Properly Store Steak
To prevent the risk of shortening the lifespan of your steak any further, here are a few things you can implement:
- Don’t open your steak’s packaging until you’re ready to cook it.
- Don’t leave steak packaging open for more than two hours before you cook it. Be especially careful if you plan to cook high quality Wagyu steaks.
- To package it properly, your best bet is to utilize a shallow, airtight container to prevent any oxygen from reaching the steak. This will ultimately lower the risk of bacteria developing on the meat.
How About Freezing Your Steak?
If you really want to extend the storage life of your steak to the maximum, you should consider freezing it!
But, it’s only recommended that you freeze raw steak, and it has to be prepared properly before it can be frozen.
- Firstly, wrap your steak in plastic wrap, and then wrap them in aluminum foil. Doing this should help secure the steak and provide a solid seal.
- When you’re ready to cook your steak, it should be thawed in the fridge overnight. This ensures it gets thawed safely and slowly, as sudden temperature changes aren’t great for the steak (e.g. thawing it in hot water).
You may be confused as to why frozen steak can last for such a long time before going bad, especially as it can last for months in your freezer.
But the answer is actually simple. Bacteria aren’t able to grow in temperatures below 40 degrees F (5 degrees C). However, when food is frozen, it can be placed in temperatures between 1-30 degrees F (0 to -17 degrees C). This keeps it safe to eat and prevents any more bacteria from growing.
Keep in mind that even though bacteria doesn’t grow below these temperatures, it’s still there when the meat thaws. All bacteria that’s already on the meat will still be there when you thaw it!
Since it’s not possible for bacteria or other microorganisms to grow and develop in temperatures below freezing, it means that your meat is safe, and deteriorates at a much slower rate.
The Danger Zone?
The danger zone is the primary explanation as to why steak, and many other foods, don’t last a significantly long amount of time if it remains in the open.
As per the USDA, anywhere between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit is what constitutes the danger zone. This is between 5 degrees C and 60 degrees C.
In this ‘zone’, bacteria in your food will double every 20 minutes, which could lead to health problems and other complications.
This is why it is so heavily recommended for you to refrigerate your food, and not to leave your food in these temperatures for more than two hours, ideally. Or, if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then your food should not remain out for more than an hour.
Not much of a difference is made if your food is cooked, either. Mishandled meat, either cooked or raw, can still lead to food poisoning as a result of the bacteria growth.
The only difference between raw and cooked meat is that raw meat is much riper for microorganisms to develop and grow.
Especially as a lot of raw meat typically carries bacteria, such as salmonella, to begin with. Plus, there is always a chance for cross-contamination when the animals are slaughtered, too.
The cooking process will help eliminate most of the bacteria on the meat from when it was raw. This is why it will last a little longer without being either refrigerated or frozen.
However, it’s still important not to be negligent with the way in which the meat is handled. Otherwise, there is a risk of contracting a foodborne illness.
There you have it! A comprehensive guide as to how long you can store your steaks in the refrigerator and freezer. This article also explained why a steak’s lifespan differs not only between refrigerating and freezing, but also raw and cooked steak.
Remember, it’s important to refrigerate or freeze your steak as quickly as possible upon purchasing them. Steaks will only be good for about two hours if they are left outside.
This time can be cut in half if it’s a hot day, so always act quickly! After this point, you will begin to notice signs of spoilage, and the meat will have to be disposed of.
And that would be a terrible waste of steak.