How Long Do Meat Products Last In The Freezer and Fridge? A Meat Safe-Keeping Guide
Suppose you’ve made your weekly trip to the grocery store and bought a week’s worth of cheap frozen meat Singapore, including burgers, chicken breasts, and fish. But then, suddenly, you’ve got a hearty dinner to attend or an event to go to on Saturday night. What do you do with all the meat you planned to cook for the week? You don’t want it going wrong in the fridge. Do you freeze it? Can heart go wrong in the freezer?
Don’t worry. We’ve got all your questions about how long frozen meat or fresh quality produce last in the fridge answered. We’ve got it all covered, from how long does chicken last in the fridge to how long does ground beef last and even how long is bacon good for in the fridge.
Universal Rule for Meat Safety
It’s a tricky balance. You want to keep your meat frozen long enough to keep it safe and manageable, but you don’t want to ruin the texture and taste.
The US Department of Agriculture mandates that any meat stored at exactly 0°F is safe to eat indefinitely. You might think that you can safely store your meat products from your favourite online grocery retailer for as long as you like but think again. The 0°F requirement is non-negotiable, and the temperature must always be at that standard without fluctuations to keep harmful bacteria away. The process of thawing and refreezing can disrupt the bacteria and mould that naturally grow in ageing food, allowing them to multiply when the temperature rises enough.
The same advice goes for cooking meat after it’s been frozen. The USDA says you can safely thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator, where it will take longer to defrost than if you used other methods like cold water or microwave. They recommend cooking thawed meat immediately after defrosting. Still, if that isn’t possible, you can refreeze the meat after cooking it at a high temperature (broiling or grilling tend to work well).
There are all sorts of recommendations for how long you can safely store meat in the freezer. Some say six months, others say nine, and some say a year is exemplary. It’s best not to push that limit too hard.
- Fresh pork from the butcher counter will keep five days in the fridge.
- Ground pork can be kept for three to four days. From the freezer, fresh pork will last a minimum of three months. Ground pork should be used within one to three months for best taste.
- Pre-cooked pork (e.g., ham or sausage) will keep in the fridge for three to four days, provided it is well wrapped so no air can get in.
- Ham and pork products (bacon, sausage) can be stored in a refrigerator for one week after the “use by” date.
- Uncooked ham can be kept in the freezer for up to six months.
- Sausages can last up to one to two months in the freezer.
- Hot dogs can last in the freezer for two weeks, but they’re good in the refrigerator for one week.
- Before cooking, roasts, chops, and steaks can be refrigerated for three to five days.
- Pork chops will last in the freezer for one to three months.
- In the freezer, cooked pork keeps indefinitely, but you’ll want to thaw it before reheating it and serving it.
- To freeze pork, wrap it tightly in freezer paper or plastic freezer wrap, or place it in a heavy-duty freezer bag.
- Beef is highly perishable and should be kept in or below 40 degrees F (4 degrees C).
- Ground beef should be kept frozen in an airtight container for four months and in the fridge for two to three days.
- Ground beef that has been defrosted in the fridge can be kept for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator before cooking.
- A steak can last up to 12 months while retaining its quality.
- A cooked hamburger that has been thawed in the fridge can be kept for an additional 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator before cooking.
- Hamburger or any beef product thawed in the microwave or cold water should be cooked immediately.
- Cooked poultry should be consumed within three days of cooking, so it’s often best to freeze it if you won’t get around to eating it in time.
- Raw poultry can be kept in the fridge for up to two days.
- Raw or cooked poultry can be frozen for up to a year when stored in an airtight container or freezer bag.
- If you’re freezing a whole chicken or turkey, remove the giblets first and allow the meat to cool before placing it in its storage bag or container.
- When whole birds are frozen, they must be packed with their cavity closed tightly, so no air is trapped inside with the meat.
- You may notice that the skin becomes discoloured when it is frozen, but this does not affect its flavour or texture when it is thawed again.
- It’s best to remove the skin from the bird before freezing it to keep it from becoming discoloured over time.
- You can also freeze poultry with bones intact — just be sure not to cook frozen meats with bones still inside, as this is not safe.
Fish & Seafood Longevity
- Fish is one of the more perishable foods, with a shelf life in the refrigerator of only 1-2 days. It can be frozen for about 4-6 months.
- Whole fish or steaks last up to six months in the freezer, while smaller fish like sardines only last two months.
- You can also store shrimp for up to three months and crabs for six months.
- Fresh lamb stays good in the fridge for 3-5 days.
- Ground lamb and stew meat can last 1-2 days longer in the fridge before cooking.
- Cooked lamb lasts 3-4 days in the refrigerator, while cooked stew meat will last 2-3 days.
Surprisingly, a lot of meat can be frozen for up to 12 months, but since temperatures must never fluctuate between being eaten safely, it’s best not to take your chances. Never leave the meat in the temperature danger zone for more than two hours to ensure food safety. Freezing meat is an effective way to preserve it, but it’s not a cure-all.
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