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How Long Can Steak Stay In The Fridge?

how long does steak last if frozen

There is nothing better than a fresh steak cooked to perfection, but in the meantime, it’s important to store your steak properly in order to keep it fresh and ready for cooking.

So if you’re unsure about how long you’re able to store your steak in the fridge, how to properly store it, and how to freeze it, then hopefully this handy guide will help you to perfectly store your steak!

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 just how long it will be able to last in the fridge, such as the temperature of the fridge, and how your steak is packaged.

But ultimately, the average time your steak can be stored in the fridge is between 3-5 days.

Why Doesn’t Steak Last Long In The Fridge?

Whether your steak is cooked or raw, it doesn’t stay in the fridge for too long, which can happen for numerous reasons, which we’ll explore below.

Raw Steak

Raw steak, if it came from a butcher, will have been sat in their cases, which are usually open-air, and may have been sat there for a little while.

Then when sold, it is likely wrapped in either plastic or paper and tied off with a rubber band, but this isn’t air-tight and will still mean that the meat is exposed to the oxygen in the air. 

Steaks that are pre-packaged or vacuum-sealed will last a little bit longer, as they will be exposed to less oxygen.

Ultimately, it is the oxygen exposure that the steak receives before it reaches you that determines its short fridge life.

Cooked Steak

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 when cooked, and whilst refrigeration will help to slow this growth down, it does not completely halt this process.

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.

How To Properly Store Steak

To prevent the risk of shortening the lifespan of your steak any further, there are a few things you can do to help stop this.

  • Don’t open your steak’s packaging until you’re ready to cook, and don’t leave it 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, which will ultimately lower the risk of bacteria developing on the meat. 

How About Freezing Your Steak?

How About Freezing Your Steak?

If you really want to extend the storage life of your steak to the maximum, you should consider freezing them!

But, it is 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 aluminium foil, these 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 the night before you plan on cooking it.

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 is unable to grow under 0 degrees Fahrenheit! Keep in mind, that even though bacteria does not grow, it is not eliminated simply by sticking the meat into the freezer. All bacteria thats 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.

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, as 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, including things such as salmonella, on them to begin with. Plus, there is always a chance for cross-contamination when they are slaughtered too.

The cooking process will help eliminate most of the bacteria on the meat from when it was raw, which is why it will last a little bit longer without being either frozen or refrigerated.

But it is 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.

Conclusion

There you have it, a comprehensive guide as to how long you can store your steaks in the refrigerator, as well as how long they can last in the freezer, and why their lifespan differs between the two.

Remember, it’s important to refrigerate or freeze your steak as promptly as possible upon purchasing them, as they can only last for two hours outside before they should be discarded and you should only open your steak once you’re ready to cook! 

Richard

Richard

Richard is the founder of SteakBuff. He manages the team of expert writers on the site and is a foodie who loves eating steaks

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