Beef supplies the body with a good amount of protein, zinc, and vitamins. It is a delicacy mostly served at events or special places, and it takes some effort to prepare it. If you have some roast beef leftover, you may be wondering how long it will last in the fridge.
How long does roast beef last in the fridge? According to the USDA, your roast beef can last for 3 to 5 days in the fridge. The lifespan of your roast beef in the fridge is affected by main factors, mainly the initial packaging, whether it is sealed or unsealed, and the storage conditions.
An unopened package of beef roast can last for up to 10 or 12 days. If you have an open package or have made it yourself, your roast beef will maintain its best quality and freshness in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
What if you didn’t plan to put it in the fridge? How long will it last at room temperature?
How Long Does Roast Beef Last at Room Temperature?
If stored correctly in the refrigerator, packaged roast beef can be consumed safely till its sell-by date or some days after. The quality will deteriorate as the sell-by date approaches, but it is still consumable as long as it hasn’t gone bad.
Meat is mostly water and nutrients. These properties make it a haven for bacterial growth.
If your roast beef sits out at room temperature for more than two hours, you might have to throw it away. Meat is prone to bacteria like Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli, and Listeria. At certain temperatures, bacteria multiply at an astounding rate.
Room temperature or a hotter temperature is the perfect ground for bacteria to breed in meat. These bacterial growths can cause food poisoning leading to sickness that can harm one’s health.
The longer your beef roast sits out, the higher the chances of going bad. If you wrap your roast beef in aluminum foil or put it in an airtight bag, you might be able to keep it on the shelf for a day or so.
How to Tell if Roast Beef Has Gone Bad
Some people manage to keep their roast beef for a longer period of time, but if yours has sat for too long at room temperature or in the fridge, how do you tell if it is still safe to eat?
Packaged roast beef comes with a sell-by or use-by date.
If yours is packaged, check that date to confirm if it is still edible or not. But, if it is not stored correctly, your roast beef can go bad before its use-by date.
There are several ways to tell if your roast beef has gone bad, but your senses are the best means. Here are some tell-tale signs your roast beef has gone bad.
The Pitchfork Test
This is a straightforward test, and you don’t need a pitchfork. Use a normal eating fork to pierce the roast in several places. If you see liquid dripping from these puncture holes, your roast has gone bad.
Color and Appearance
Your beef roast should not have a dull or disagreeing color. If it has a gray color or a greenish discoloration that doesn’t disappear, bacteria have entered the meat. You should discard it if you notice any discoloration.
Your roast beef should not be slimy or moldy. If you see any sign of mold or notice a slimy feel, you should throw that roast beef out.
Meat always has a subtle flavor, and it takes on the smell of the spices and other ingredients used in preparing it. If your roast beef has a strong rancid smell, don’t eat it. You don’t want to eat roast beef that smells bad. It could give you a severe tummy ache.
If you press your roast beef with a fingertip, it should sink. If it springs back, this might indicate that it has gone bad. Roast beef should look firm, fresh, and plump. If it doesn’t, then it is no longer suitable for eating.
How Can You Store Roast Beef to Last Longer in the Fridge?
The way roast beef is stored largely influences how long it will last in the refrigerator. The mode of storage can also affect its texture and flavor during the duration of storage.
The fridge is the best place to store beef roast for a few days because the low temperature halts the growth of mold and bacteria that causes spoilage.
Here are some things to watch for when storing roast beef in the fridge.
Temperature plays a vital role in the storage of beef. Beef cooked at too high of a temperature or undercooked beef will spoil very quickly. Also, roast beef should be stored in the coldest part of your fridge.
Don’t store roast beef somewhere like the fridge door; the temperature frequently changes when the door gets opened. These rapid temperature changes can reduce the lifespan of your roast in the fridge.
Storage also plays a huge role. If wrapped in aluminum foil or in airtight Ziploc bags, your roast beef will store well. If you use a freezer-safe wrap, you get to keep all the juices and flavor of the roast beef.
Freezing is the best way to preserve meat, the texture doesn’t suffer much like some other food items, and it keeps all the juices and flavors intact. If you want to freeze your roast beef, it might be better to do it in portions or cut it into slices before freezing. This way, you don’t have to thaw the entire roast just to eat some when you need to.
Thawing roast beef after freezing is easy. You can thaw it overnight in the fridge, microwave, or in water on the kitchen counter. Roast beef thawed in the microwave or on the kitchen counter must be eaten immediately.
When you store your roast beef in the fridge or freezer, you want to mark it, so it doesn’t get mixed up with other food items. Keeping it in the fridge keeps it safe for the next few days, but freezing roast beef can preserve it for whenever you may want to eat in the future.