Storing Cooked and Raw Meat

Storing Cooked or Processed Meat

Storing cooked or processed meat has some similarities to storing raw meat products, although you might have some more leeway. Either way, you still have to store it properly- or risk getting sick from foodborne illness. Much like raw meat, there’s a fairly strict timeline on how long you can keep even processed meats in the fridge. And much like raw meat, you can greatly extend that time by keeping them in the freezer. 

How to safely store cooked meat in the fridge

Even when cooked, meat should be kept in a separate container from other foods. These containers should be tightly sealed, without leaks, and kept in a separate drawer or on a separate shelf from other foods. Again, in case there is a leak, you at least won’t have to worry about other food being contaminated. 

Generally, cooked meats can be safely stored in the refrigerator for about three to four days. This includes any kind of cooked meat whether it’s beef, fish, chicken, or anything else. However, processed meat products (such as cured lunch meats, hotdogs, etc) can last a little longer. You can store these in your fridge for about two weeks before you open them, and about a week after opening them. 

How to safely store cooked meat in the freezer

As you might assume, keeping meats (whether cooked or raw) in the freezer greatly extends their safe storage times. Unlike raw meat, most cooked meats last around the same time when stored in the freezer. Of course, this also depends on you keeping your freezer at the proper temperature. If you keep your freezer set to about 0 degrees Fahrenheit, most cooked meat will last at least two months, and often up to six months. Processed meat goes by the same rules, although you can typically freeze these products for up to two months safely. 

Properly Storing Raw Meat

We all know that raw meat comes with some contamination risks. However, storing it properly, and in the proper conditions is the best way to keep your food safe. How to properly store raw meat and poultry products? Read on to find out everything you need to know. 

Use the right containers

Don’t keep raw meat in unsealed containers. An unsealed container is an invitation for leaks, which means you can end up accidentally contaminating other food in your fridge. Plastic food storage and tupperware with sealable lids are your best option. 

Store it in the right spot: It’s not enough to simply have a good container for your raw meat. You should also place it on shelves below other food products. Should your containers leak, you can minimize contamination to other food products. 

What temperature to store raw meat?

There are some meat products that are processed in a way which allows them to be kept in dry storage. Raw meat is not in this category. Like any other temperature sensitive food, raw meat should never be kept at room temperature for more than two hours (and even then, the less time at room temperature, the better). 

If you’re storing raw meat in your refrigerator, keeping the temperature set low- around 34 degrees- is ideal. You want to get it close to freezing temperatures, without accidentally freezing the meat or your other foods.

If you plan on storing raw meat for a longer period, you’ll need to freeze it. Keep freezers for meat storage as close to 0 degrees Fahrenheit as possible. The closer you can keep your freezer to this temperature, the longer you can store your meat. 

Know how long you can store it

Raw meat isn’t a food that you can keep in your fridge and return to a month later. In fact, for most raw meats, you can only store it as is for about three days. Once cooked, you can store it for a bit longer, provided you keep it at proper temperatures. 

How long can you store frozen meat?

Most uncooked meat can be stored in the freezer for at least three months. Ground meat has one of the shortest freezer storage times, which is around three to four months. Uncooked poultry (fish and chicken) can be stored anywhere from nine months to a year, depending on how the meat is cut. Steaks, pork chops, and similar items can be frozen for a wide range of times, depending on the product in question. You can have them in storage for anywhere from four months up to an entire year. 

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