How to tell if steak is bad? Given the situation that you want to cook a meal with some steak left uneaten in the fridge or freezer. But you don’t remember how long you have stored it, what would you do? Of course, you need to check whether it is already spoiled.
Spoiled steak is awful. I know. The rancid smell and discoloration of the steak make you feel sick. To avoid that, you should learn how to keep your steak fresh and tasty. This article will help you to do that. Keep reading to become an expert in choosing and storing steaks!
When Is Your Steak A Bad One?
Steak is just like other foods. It goes bad after some time. It’s very important that you know the symptoms of spoilage so that you can save yourself and your family from the chance of getting poisoned.
In brief, steak is spoiled when it is off-color and texture, tastes terrible and smells bad.
For a more detailed answer, read this post carefully! I will provide you a handy guide on how to tell when steak is bad, how long it lasts, the method to store it properly, and many other useful tips to help you enjoy the most delicious steak ever.
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The Symptoms Of A “Bad” Steak
It is not rare that you find yourself confused about whether a steak is still fresh and edible. In this first section, I will show you how to identify bad raw steak, cooked steak, and marinated steak by searching for several symptoms.
Steak is spoiled when it is exposed to too much air. It can be because you do not store and thaw it properly. In addition, leaving it at room temperature for too long also cause spoilage symptoms.
Pay attention to the expiration date of your steak, which is the “use-by” date. You have to cook, refrigerate or freeze steak within that date to ensure that it is still in the best condition.
In case you realize that the due date has passed, don’t worry. You can still save it by checking other signs of spoilage. As long as it does not have any of the below symptoms, then you can still eat it. However, whenever you see any spoilage characteristic, it is not edible anymore.
When steak goes bad, its color and freshness are not the same as it used to be. Whenever you see that it lost its beautiful purplish-red or cherry red color, it may be a warning that spoilage bacteria has started to grow.
Nevertheless, you should also look for other signs since the off-color can be due to exposure to oxygen and is not necessarily a spoilage sign. If it is darkened to an unacceptable degree, it is time to discard it.
Steaks smell good. Although they do have a bloody odor, it is a pleasant one. Fresh steak nearly does not have any smell unless you put it close to your nose.
Whenever your steak has an ammonia-like, cheese-like, sour, or rotten aroma, even just a little, you should throw it away.
You should move your fingers through the steak to check its texture. Steaks are moist, but they are not slippery or slimy. The appearance of yellowish slime indicates that bacteria has started to grow, followed by mold.
Furthermore, in case you think that it is too dry, it is not tasty anymore. Although dryness is not exactly a symptom of spoilage, it tells you that the steak is not worth eating.
When steak is exposed to air for a long period of time, mold will begin to appear. It is a serious symptom of spoilage. Mold comes in the form of white or green areas on the surface of the steak. You must throw it away once you see any.
Freezer burn is another type of impurities that will degrade the quality of frozen steak. If you see ice crystals around it, it is not tasty anymore.
How Long Does Steak Last?
Knowing how to cook a good steak dish is not enough. You also need to know its shelf life. In the table below, I present the shelf life of raw steak and cooked steak in different storage conditions. Check it out for a quick understanding.
|Types Of Steak||Room Temperature||Fridge||Freezer|
|Raw Steak||2 hours||3-5 days||6-12 months|
|Cooked Steak||2 hours||3-4 days||3 months|
|Marinated Steak||2 hours||4-5 days||3 months|
Whenever you buy raw steak from the supermarket and do not want to cook it immediately, you have to refrigerate or freeze it as soon as you decide not to eat it. What you should do next is to learn how long you can store it.
Like other perishable foods, steak does not last long at room temperature. That’s why you have to store it at once. According to the Food and Drug Administration, unrefrigerated steaks will be spoiled after 2 hours.
Once you refrigerate it, it can last longer, about 3-5 days, with the condition that it is fresh and you refrigerated properly and at 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Freezing steak is the best way to keep it for long. Correctly stored, it can last for 6-12 months in the freezer.
Now, imagine that you cook a delicious dish of steak. However, since your eyes are bigger than your stomach, you cannot finish it up. But you don’t want to waste the leftovers, so you refrigerate or even freeze them.
However, if you don’t store it within 2 hours after it is cooked, it will get spoiled, and you cannot do anything to save it.
Suppose that you quickly put it in the fridge; how long does it last? Well! Since cooked steak is seasoned, it gets spoiled more rapidly than raw steak. You can store it for at most 4 days.
You can also freeze cooked steak. It can sit safely in the freezer for up to 3 months, depending on how you store it.
Assuming that you marinate steak with salt, peppers, olive oil, and other ingredients, and plan to cook it in the next few days. You can definitely store it.
No steak can live long at room temperature, and marinated steak is no exception. It can only sit out for 2 hours on the counter.
A better way is to refrigerate it. You can safely preserve it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The fewer ingredients it has, the longer it will last.
Sometimes you may wonder if it’s possible to store steak in your freezer because you want to eat a savory steak dish. It may depend on the ingredients in the marinating sauce but all in all, it’s a good choice. You can store it for up to 3 months but still get the fresh flavor.
What Happens If You Eat Spoiled Steak?
There are two kinds of bacteria that grow when steak is not stored properly or has been kept for too long.
Pathogenic bacteria are what cause spoilage symptoms, such as vomiting, nausea, stomach ache, diarrhea, fever, and other mild and severe medical issues.
Spoilage bacteria is what causes the steak to slightly change its color, texture, smell, and taste, which makes the steak less tasty than it used to be. (1)
Given that you eat steak that is slightly discolored or has a less attractive smell and texture, you are not likely to develop foodborne symptoms. However, once you eat spoiled steak, you can suffer foodborne illness.
It takes from 30 minutes to several days for the illness symptoms to develop, depending on the type of harmful bacteria and how much of it, and your immune system. Babies and pregnant women are most sensitive to spoiled food. (2)
Storing Steak Properly Can Prevent Spoilage Symptoms
The symptoms of spoilage are terrible. I am sure that you don’t want to encounter them. Fortunately, there is a solution for that.
Your steak won’t spoil if you store it properly and consume it within due time. You can either put it in the fridge or freeze it, depending on how long you want it to last.
Short-Term Storage: Refrigerating
Refrigerating steak is the optimal way to keep it fresh for several days. Follow this comprehensive instruction so that you can do the best for your steak. The procedures of storing raw steak, cooked steak, and marinated steak are the same.
Step 1: Wrap The Steak With 1 Layer
For raw steak, it is important that you keep its original package. This is the safest and most convenient way. However, given that you already open it, you can wrap it in freezer paper or a vacuum sealer.
Regarding cooked steak, you should wait until it cools completely at room temperature, but do not let it sit there longer than 2 hours. Next, place it in an airtight container, such as a vacuum sealer.
Step 2: Refrigerate The Steak
This step is simple and straightforward. You just need to put the wrapped steak in the fridge. The colder the fridge is, the longer the steak will last. Therefore, you should place it in the coldest part of the fridge.
Long-Term Storage: Freezing
Freezing steak helps it to last almost forever since the low temperature prevents harmful bacteria from growing. I will show you the step-by-step guide to do it. But first, you need to ensure that your steak is in good condition. Otherwise, there is no point in freezing it.
Step 1: Wrap The Steak With 2 Layers
For raw steak, it is better not to keep the original package since there is still air in it. You should take the steak out, rinse it thoroughly with water and pat it dry.
Next, wrap it tightly in a plastic layer. Fold it carefully so that no air surrounds the steak. However, 1 layer is not enough to protect your steak from the low temperature.
You need a second layer to ensure that all air is removed and to protect your steak from freezer burn and ice crystal.
The second layer must be a container that can handle freezing temperatures, such as a vacuum sealer or a zip-top bag. Place the wrapped steak at the bottom of the sealer or bag and squeeze out all the air.
Step 2: Freeze The Steak
After you wrap the steak, everything else is easy. You just need to put it in the freezer, and feel free to defrost it within 6-12 months, depending on the type of steak. Make sure you write the date you put it in somewhere on the container.
Frozen steak can maintain its quality within 3 months. So I highly recommend that you eat it as soon as you can to enjoy its original flavor.
Check out this well-illustrated instruction on freezing steak today!
The Secret Tips To Choose Fresh Steak
Before storing and cooking, you should be able to pick fresh raw steak from the supermarket. This is the foremost condition that determines how long you can store it. Don’t worry. It is important but not difficult as long as you follow these tips.
- Choose steak that has a good and attractive color.
- Go for a moist and moderately juicy steak.
- Only buy the steak that has a firm texture. You should touch it to test. Press it using your finger. If it springs back to the original state, then it is worth buying.
- Avoid buying steak that leaks too much liquid.
- Buy steak that is cut evenly.
- Do not buy a frozen steak that develops freezer burn and ice crystal.
Some Excellent Ways To Thaw Steak
You already know how to choose steak and store it properly. The next step to a delicious steak meal is to thaw it, and you should also do it the right way. Stay with me! I will show you how.
The best method to thaw steak while maintaining its quality is to put the frozen steak into the fridge on a premium thawing tray (if possible). The relatively low temperature in the fridge can prevent bacteria from growing. It takes at most 24 hours for the steak to be completely thawed.
A faster way is to use water. And it is best to use cold water. Using hot water can trigger the activation of harmful bacteria. You should replace the water after every 20 minutes and keep an eye on it to ensure it is always cold. Your steak will need 6-10 hours to be ready to cook.
This is the fastest but also the least recommended method. You can use the defrost option on the microwave to thaw steak. However, it will somehow dry out the steak, making it less juicy. Unless you run out of time, I think thawing steak in the fridge or water is the better option.
Thawing steak is even easier after you watch this excellent instruction:
Although I have provided you a lot of information in the above sections, I know that you may still have some other questions about the shelf life of steak. Read the FAQs below to see whether you find what you’re looking for.
Is Your Steak Still Edible?
How to tell if steak is bad? Use your senses to determine. As for food, it is better safe than sorry. In case you are not sure, it is better not to eat it to avoid being poisoned.
Stick to this comprehensive guide on how to choose, store, and thaw steak easily! You will be able to enjoy it in its best condition.
Have you ever detected spoiled steak in your fridge? If you tried the method that I provided, how long could you refrigerate and freeze steak? I am happy to receive your sharings in the comment section.
- MSU Extension. 2021. Food spoilage and food pathogens, what’s the difference?. [online] Available at: <https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/food_spoilage_and_food_pathogens_whats_the_difference>
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021. Foodborne Illnesses and Germs. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/foodborne-germs.html>
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