We merged FDA guidelines and test kitchen advice to offer you a definitive guide on how to store meat.

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Buying meat is frequently expensive, so once you carry out pick part up for a recipe, girlfriend don't want any kind of to walk to waste. In order to ensure it stays fresh, there are a most food safety determinants to keep in mind. Store it for sure in the refrigerator or freezer prior to you chef it, and you have the right to keep your kitchen well-stocked because that days, weeks, and also even months to come. 


The U.S. Food & Drug management (FDA) has details recommended timeframes because that storing different kinds that meat, from life poultry and also steaks to bacon and corned beef. It's split into refrigeration and also freezer guidelines, so you know exactly how long you have the right to keep that ham girlfriend bought. We merged those parameters with storage advice from the Food & Wine test Kitchen—read on for the full breakdown of exactly how to save meat.


The FDA has a storage chart through “short, yet safe” time borders for refrigerating food so that it doesn’t end up being spoiled or dangerous. (For reference, it describes refrigerated food in ~ 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4 degrees Celsius.) Guidelines because that freezing those same foods items are likewise provided; however, the FDA note that due to the fact that freezing (at 0 levels Fahrenheit, -18 degrees Celsius) “keeps food safe indefinitely” the references are based on preserving the high quality of the meat. Here’s a summary of the FDA guidelines. The complete chart, which additionally addresses eggs, soups, stews, and also more, deserve to be found on the main website.


Bacon have the right to last seven days in the fridge and one month in the freezer. Raw sausage, whether it’s do from pork, beef, chicken, or turkey, is encourage to be retained one to two days in the fridge, and up to one to two months in the freezer. Smoked breakfast links and also patties have actually a little bit of a longer lifespan—you have the right to store them increase to 7 days in the fridge, and one to 2 months in the freezer.


The much more meat is cut up, the more exposure there is come potential bacteria. So for hamburger, stir-fry strips, stew meat, and other varieties of cut-up meats, stick to one to two days in the fridge and also three to 4 months in the freezer. Floor turkey, veal, pork, and also lamb can additionally be kept one to two days in the fridge, and three to four months in the freezer.


The FDA division down bigger cuts of new meat right into steaks, chops, roasts, and variety meats (tongue, kidneys, liver, heart, and chitterlings). Steaks have the right to last three to 5 days in the fridge and six come 12 month in the freezer; roasts, too, deserve to last three to 5 days in the fridge and up to four to 12 month in the freezer, if you want to keep some ready. As for chops, the FDA says three to five days in the fridge and four to 6 months in the freezer, if the variety meats can be stored because that one to two days in the fridge and also three to 4 months in the freezer.


For your leftover cook meat and also meat dishes, the FDA claims they’ll store three to four days in the fridge and two to 3 months in the freezer. Together for the accompanying gravy and broths? One to 2 days in the fridge, and also two to 3 months in the freezer.


Whole chickens or turkeys can last one to two days in the fridge and also up come one year in the freezer, so they’re always good to have actually on hand. If you have actually cut-up chicken components like breasts, drumsticks, or thighs, those can additionally last one to 2 days in the fridge and a an extensive nine month in the freezer. Choose the variety meats above, giblets have actually the shortest lifespan of the bunch, in ~ one to 2 days in the fridge and three to 4 months in the freezer.


If you make fried chicken, remainder assured that it have the right to last three to 4 days in the fridge and up to 4 months in the freezer, in case you want to save it for later. Cooked poultry key (like, say, Chicken Cacciatore) can also last 3 to four days in the fridge and also will keep a little bit longer in the freezer than fried chicken does—four to six months. 


Plain piece of poultry (no sauce or gravy) have the right to last 3 to 4 days in the fridge or up to four months in the freezer, while piece of poultry extended in broth or gravy (e.g. Leftover Thanksgiving turkey) have the right to last the very same time in the fridge and up to six months in the freezer. Chicken nuggets and also patties have a bit of a much shorter timeframe—three to four days in the fridge, and also one to 3 months in the freezer.


Once opened, packages of hot dogs and lunch meats have actually a much shorter shelf life. An opened package can last one main in the fridge and also one to two months in the freezer, if unopened hot dogs are great for two weeks in the fridge and also one to two months in the freezer. Opened up lunch meats, like salami and pepperoni, have the right to last three to 5 days in the fridge and one-two month in the freezer, if unopened lunch meats can expectations two mainly in the fridge and also one to two months in the freezer.


If you’re dealing with a corned beef in its original packaging (pickling juices included), you deserve to store that in the fridge for 5 to 7 days, or drainpipe it and also freeze it, well-wrapped, for approximately one month. Crate ham, ~ above the other hand—the kind that’s labeling “keep refrigerated”—can be stored unopened in the fridge for six to ripe months (don’t freeze it), or opened, stored in the refrigerator for three to five days and also in the freezer because that one to two months.


For totally cooked ham, the warehouse timeframe relies on the size. A whole ham can be refrigerated for up to seven days and frozen because that one to two months, if a fifty percent ham deserve to refrigerated for 3 to 5 days and also frozen because that one to two months. Finally, the FDA says sliced ham is ideal for three to 4 days in the refrigerator and also one to two months in the freezer.


When you’re refrigerating raw meat, save it in its initial packaging best up till you use it, and rest the on a key or rimmed baking paper on the lowest shelf that the fridge. This will certainly contain air pollution in the occasion of any type of drips or spills. 


For cook meat, let that cool totally (for a max of two hours) in ~ room temperature, and also then slice, shred, debone, or cut the meat as desired and also store that in an airtight container in the refrigerator as directed. 


When you’re freeze raw meat, on the other hand, we recommend removing that from packaging and also placing it in resealable plastic baggies or airtight containers. If you’re freezing it for much longer than a week, wrap each item of meat in plastic wrap, and also then location in resealable bags. Wrapping meat in individual servings enables you to thaw the specific amount girlfriend need and keep the remainder frozen. Life ground meat is one exception—keep that in the initial packaging unless you want to pre-portion it. (For extra protection and contamination prevention, keep the package in a plastic bag or silicone Stasher bag.) Again, you’ll desire to keep the meat on the shortest shelf and away from other groceries.


For cooked meat, you’ll desire to let that cool and also then slice, shred, debone, or reduced it similar to you would for the refrigerator. Then, we’d introduce storing it in silicone or resealable plastic bags, sealing the meat in, pushing to flatten out the air, and also freezing. This helps to save space in her freezer and prevents freezer burn.


In general, when you’re freezing meat, you want to think around how you’re going to consume it as soon as it’s defrosted. Because that example, you could want to section out a 10-pack the chicken breasts so the they don’t all freeze together and also become stuck in the very same package—you can separate individual cuts by laying lock out flat or putting parchment individually between them. The exact same idea applies to pork chops, burger patties, fish filets, steaks, etc., for this reason you have the right to take them out in batches.

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Once you’re all set to defrost the meat, thaw that in the refrigerator on a plate or rimmed baking sheet, which will record leaks. If your package is about one-inch thick, it should thaw overnight; miscellaneous denser, choose a roast or turkey, might take 2 days or more. If you want to speed up the process, location the meat in a stockpot under the kitchen faucet and also let the tap operation cold water end the meat (a trickle is okay) until it's thawed. The cold water help ensure the the external of the meat doesn't obtain warm when the within is still defrosting.