I put ground beef into all sorts of my favorite dishes- tacos, casseroles, soups, and much more. But I’m always aware of how perishable this meat is, and in its raw, red state, you always have to be very careful about how it’s stored and how long you’re using it before it can go bad.
When you store ground beef, you want to make sure that it is kept safe from air coming in, so that it doesn’t go bad prematurely. You also want to store it at the right temperature so that it stays fresh and free from bacteria long as possible.
How to store ground beef so that you get the most use out of it and you don’t put yourself at risk for food poisoning? I’ll show you exactly how to do that, whether you’re keeping it in the fridge or the freezer, and hopefully answer all your questions about how to store raw ground beef.
How to Store Ground Beef in Fridge
Let’s start with raw ground beef, because that’s the most vulnerable state of ground beef. How to store opened ground beef? Once raw beef has been opened, it should not stay in your fridge for long before it gets cooked, frozen, or used up.
It is incredibly dangerous to keep raw ground beef for more than a few days and try to eat it once it’s past its expiration date. Keep in mind that the expiration date on the package will not be valid once the beef has been opened.
How long to store ground beef in fridge? Once you’ve opened it, the beef is only good for another day or two before it will start to go bad. You can tell it’s starting to go bad when it begins to turn gray or starts to develop a different smell. Even if it hasn’t started to change visibly, raw ground beef is not good to eat after about two days in the fridge.
How to Store Ground Beef after Opening
Once the beef is open, you can store in an airtight container in the fridge or wrap it in plastic and keep it refrigerated. If you want it to last longer, it can be cooked up or stored in the freezer.
If you are keeping your raw ground beef in the freezer, it needs to be kept in an airtight container that’s freezer safe or in a freezer safe plastic bag. Any oxidation or freezer burn will damage it and keep it from staying fresh.
How to Store Ground Beef in the Freezer
If you’re keeping ground beef in the freezer, you can store it there for several months. How long does store ground beef in the freezer? If stored well, it can keep fresh for three to four months. Once you’re ready to use it, you can simply put the ground beef into the refrigerator to thaw out overnight.
How to Thaw Ground Beef
There are several different ways you can thaw out your ground beef to cook it up when you’re ready to use it. I don’t suggest trying to cook it from frozen, as you’re more likely to burn your ground beef on the outside and then it will still be cold on the inside. Ground beef cooks so quickly that it doesn’t make sense to try to cook it while it is frozen.
So, you can either leave it to thaw in the fridge overnight or set it out on the counter at room temperature to thaw much faster. Make sure it’s covered while it thaws, to keep flies off it and to protect the beef from oxidation and bacteria.
If you want to thaw it out faster, you can place the ground beef inside an airtight container and put it into a bowl of room temperature water. You don’t want the water to seep inside the container, though, and get to the ground beef.
If I’m looking for a fast way to thaw out ground beef, my preferred method is to put it into the microwave and defrost. Keep in mind that this will probably cook it a little bit, so be prepared to cook it right after it comes out of the microwave and expect it to cook very quickly after this forced defrosting.
How to Store Cooked Ground Beef
There’s one other kind of ground beef we haven’t looked at yet, and that’s cooked ground beef. How to store leftover ground beef once it’s been cooked up?
The good news is that it lasts a little bit longer than raw ground beef, and it can be stored in the fridge for several days. It should last for about four days in the fridge, if it’s kept in an airtight container.
If you want it to last longer, then store it in the freezer, where it can last for up to four months.
Before serving up stored ground beef that’s been cooked already, you should check it for signs that it might have gone bad. It’s more likely to smell bad than to look bad, so give it a sniff. The texture may have changed as well, so if the beef is right at four days of fridge storage or past that mark, you should definitely take a moment to check over the ground beef to ensure that it is safe to eat.
So, How Should you Store Ground Beef?
I want to say again that ground beef is a very fragile meat that is vulnerable to bacterial infection, oxidation, and other problems that can lead to food poisoning and quick spoilage. It’s important that you put ground beef into the fridge or freezer as soon as possible and not leave it out at room temperature.
If it’s left out for more than two hours, it’s probably spoiled by that point. If it’s left uncovered at room temperature, then the ground beef can spoil much faster. This is true whether we’re talking of cooked or raw ground beef, so you want to take good care of it and keep in mind how long it’s been left out for.