Buying ground beef in bulk is much cheaper than buying it a pound or two at a time. This works great for larger families, but what about those of us shopping for one or two people.
Does frozen ground beef go bad? According to the USDA, frozen ground beef will keep indefinitely. However, the freshness and quality of the taste of the beef will begin to deteriorate after four months in the freezer.
In this article, we will look at the best way to preserve ground beef to keep it tasting fresh, how to identify if your ground beef has gone bad, and other commonly asked questions around frozen ground beef.
How Long Will Uncooked Ground Beef Last in the Refrigerator?
You should only keep uncooked ground beef in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days after purchase. After that, you should either freeze it or discard it.
If you are looking to extend the refrigerator life of uncooked ground beef, you can buy high-quality beef and store it in its original packaging. Taking these measures can help extend the life of the beef by another two days.
How Will Uncooked Ground Beef Last in the Refrigerator?
If you cooked ground beef for tacos or hamburgers and have some leftovers, you can store cooked ground beef in an air-tight container for up to 4 days.
Additionally, if there is a large amount of leftover cooked ground beef, you can store it in the freezer for up to 4 months as long as it wasn’t frozen prior to cooking.
What is Best Method for Freezing Ground Beef?
The best way to freeze ground beef depends on the length of time you plan on storing it for. If you plan to use the ground beef as soon as possible, it’s best to freeze the ground beef in its original packaging.
If you plan on storing the ground beef for an extended period of time, leaving it in its original packaging could leave it susceptible to freezer burn. Therefore, you should pre-portion the meat and wrap each individual portion in plastic wrap. Then, place the individually wrapped packages in a sealed plastic bag.
The most important thing is that the meat stays below 40° Fahrenheit in order to prevent the growth of bacteria.
How Do You Keep Track of When to Use Frozen Ground Beef By?
The best way to keep track of when to use your frozen ground beef by is labeling your freezer bags. You can either use the date you froze the meat or the use-by date, as long as you keep it consistent.
It’s also important to take inventory of your freezer at least on a monthly basis. That way you can prepare to use any of the ground beef that may expire during the month.
How Do You Defrost Ground Beef?
The best way to defrost ground beef is by taking it out of the freezer and placing it in the refrigerator. It can take 24 to 48 hours for the ground beef to fully defrost depending on the temperature of your refrigerator.
What is the Best Way to Defrost Ground Beef Quickly?
If you forgot to thaw the ground beef the night before or are in a pinch, you can defrost ground beef quickly by placing it in a bowl with cold water. It usually takes the ground beef about 30 minutes to an hour to thaw using this method.
You can also use the defrost buttons on a microwave to defrost ground beef. However, you should be extremely careful as the meat may start to cook if you don’t keep a close eye on it.
You should never thaw ground beef by leaving it on the counter. If the meat reaches room temperature for an extended length of time, it could expose you to harmful bacteria.
Can You Cook Frozen Beef Directly?
If you want to avoid the defrosting process altogether, you can actually cook ground beef directly from a frozen state.
In order to do this, you need to cook the frozen meat on a stovetop and add about an inch of water to the pan. You may need to suction out some of the extra water towards the end of the cooking process.
How Do You Tell if Ground Beef has Gone Bad?
As long as you freeze ground beef within two days of purchase, it should not go bad. However, if you are pushing the limits, ground beef starts to smell sour, will become a grayish color, and slimy if it’s gone bad. If you see any of these signs, you should discard the meat immediately.
Can You Refreeze Ground Beef?
It’s safe to refreeze ground beef one additional time if it has not been cooked. However, all of the moisture loss through the thawing process may cause the meat to taste poorly.
How Long is Ground Beef Good for After it has Been Thawed?
You should cook ground beef directly after thawing it. You should never plan to thaw ground beef and then store it in your refrigerator afterward
How Long Can You Store Ground Beef in a Cooked Dish?
If you included ground beef in a pasta sauce or other type of prepared dish you should still follow the same guidelines as if it was just cooked ground beef. That means you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 4 months.
If your dish includes another ingredient that may go bad in a shorter period of time, you should adhere to the guidelines for that ingredient.
Should You Adhere to the “Best By” or Expiration Date on Ground Beef Packaging?
Ground beef is safe to eat within two days of the “best by” or expiration date as long as it has been properly refrigerated.
If you freeze the ground beef within two days of the expiration date it should still be safe to eat after it comes out of the freezer.