How to Store Beef: 6 Preservation Tips for Long-Term Storage

When shopping we often buy beef in bulk at a discount to have in our food storage. Because we have a large amount of beef every couple of years it leads us to the question of how to store beef long-term. When storing beef it is important to remember there is proper care that needs to be taken to avoid the beef developing harmful bacteria and becoming spoiled. This can give someone food poisoning if the beef is consumed. Signs of spoilage in beef include changes in color, a sour or rancid odor, and a slimy texture. If any of these signs are present, the beef should not be consumed. 

Improper storage can also cause freezer burn, which can dry out and toughen the beef. Additionally, if beef is not wrapped or sealed properly, it can absorb odors and flavors from other foods in the refrigerator or freezer. So How can beef properly and safely be stored?

How to Store Meat Both Short and Long-Term

To properly store beef or meat short-term, keep it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For long-term storage, freezing, canning, dehydration, freeze drying, and curing are all effective options that can preserve your stored beef for several months or even years. Consider your personal needs and storage capacity to know which type of fresh meat is best to store for you.

6 ways to properly store beef include:

  1. Refrigerated
  2. Frozen
  3. Canned
  4. Dehydrated
  5. Freeze Dried
  6. Cured

It’s important to note that each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and some methods may not be suitable for certain types of beef. It’s best to choose the storage method that best suits your needs and preferences.

Also, see how to store these other common types of food:


Storing Beef in the Fridge

When storing raw beef cuts in the refrigerator, the meat should be stored at a temperature of 40°F (4.4°C) or less to prevent bacterial growth and spoilage. 

Beef should be vacuum sealed or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent air and moisture from getting in. This will help to slow down the growth of bacteria and prevent spoilage. 

The sealed or wrapped beef should then be placed in the coldest part of the refrigerator, typically the back of the bottom shelf. This helps keep beef at a safe temperature and prevent cross-contamination with other foods. 

How Long Can You Store Raw Beef in the Refrigerator?

Vacuum sealed raw beef can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (14 days), while meats wrapped in plastic wrap or aluminum foil can be stored for up to 5 days. It’s important to check and make sure that the it has not passed its expiration date, changed in color, developed a sour or rancid odor, or its texture hasn’t become slimy before cooking and consuming.


Storing Beef in the Freezer

Storing raw beef by freezing it is our favorite way to store it long-term. We store over a hundred pounds of various beef cuts in two chest freezers that are in our garage and haven’t had any spoilage problems. The storage temperature should remain 0 degrees Fahrenheit (0 °F).

When handling fresh beef before being frozen, it should be vacuum sealed, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, or placed in an airtight container to prevent air and moisture from getting in. This will help to preserve fresh the quality of the raw meat and prevent freezer burn. If using plastic wrap or aluminum foil. It is best to double wrap or vacuum seal it to ensure a tight seal.

how to store raw beef in the freezer
Preserve Fresh Raw Beef in Your Freezer

Label the package with the date that it was stored, so that you’ll know how long it has been frozen. It’s best to use frozen beef within 6 months to a year for best quality but remains safe indefinitely as long as the freezer has maintained a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit (0 °F).

When ready to use, it’s best to thaw frozen beef in the refrigerator, this will ensure that the beef thaws slowly and at a safe temperature. Avoid thawing beef at room temperature as it can cause bacterial growth. If you’re in a hurry, you can thaw it in the microwave on the defrost setting, but be sure to cook it immediately after thawing.

What You’ll Need

To store meat in a freezer (especially bulk amounts to help save money) you’ll want to buy a freezer in addition to your fridge/freezer combo that is already in your kitchen. We have two additional chest freezers that have freed up space to store additional food and we love them. We have a 7 cubic feet and a 5 cubic feet chest freezer. 

Top Freezer

Amazon has a reasonably priced and good quality chest freezer that will make storing beef and many other foods much easier. You can choose from three different sizes 3.5, 5, or 7 cubic feet. Check out the prices and size options of the Midea chest freezer on Amazon, you won’t regret it. Also, as a Prime member shipping should be free.

How Long Can You Store Meat in The Freezer?

Frozen beef can be stored in the freezer for 6 months to a year for the best quality but remains safe indefinitely as long as the freezer has maintained a temperature of 0 degrees fahrenheit (0 °F) (according USDA). Some cuts, such as ground beef, may only maintain their best quality for up to 3-4 months. We have regularly bought bulk cuts of beef and stored them for up to 2 years in the freezer and have found that it has been safe to consume and maintained the majority of its quality. Checkout our insider’s guide to buying beef in bulk at a discount.

However, the shelf life of frozen beef depends on the cut and the quality of the meat when it was frozen.

It’s important to note that while freezing meat can help to preserve it for an extended period of time, it can also cause changes in the texture and taste of the meat. Therefore, it’s best to use frozen meat within 6 months to 1 year for best quality. When frozen properly, the meat should retain most of its flavor, texture and nutritional value.

It is important to check the package for any signs of freezer burn, discoloration, or a sour or rancid odor and if any is present, the meat should not be consumed.

Cooking Tips

Here are two simple cooking tips when cooking with frozen meat:

  1. Thawing: It is important to properly thaw frozen beef before cooking it to ensure that it cooks evenly and doesn’t end up being tough or rubbery. There are a few ways to thaw beef, such as in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave (using the defrost setting). Whichever method you choose, be sure to use a food thermometer to check that the beef has reached a safe internal temperature of at least 145°F (63°C) for steak (ribeye, t-bone, sirloin, etc.), roasts, and chops, and 160°F (71°C) for ground beef, before consuming.
  2. Cooking from Frozen: If you forget to thaw your beef or don’t have time, it’s possible to cook it from frozen. Cooking frozen beef in a slow cooker, on a low heat, is the best option. You can also use a method called “reverse searing” where you start cooking the frozen beef at a low temperature in the oven, and then finish it off with a high-heat sear in a pan. Remember that cooking times will be longer when cooking from frozen and you should use a food thermometer to ensure that the beef reaches a safe internal temperature.

Once the raw meat is defrosted it can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days before being cooked and only storing cooked meat in the fridge for a few days to a week.


Canned

It is critical that any meat that has been canned is done properly, it must be pressure canned. If you are canning it yourself make sure to follow a quality recipe from reputable source. Here is a good meat canning recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Canned meat should be stored in a cool, dark place with a stable temperature, such as a pantry or a closet. The ideal temperature for storing canned food is between 50-70°F (10-21°C). You should avoid storing canned meat in damp or humid places, such as a basement or a garage, as this can cause the cans to rust or the seals to fail.

Canned meat should be stored in an upright position to prevent any damage to the seals. When you are ready to use it, make sure to open the cans carefully, avoiding any sharp edges, and transfer the meat to a clean container.

Store opened canned meat in the refrigerator, and should be consumed within 3-4 days. Make sure to reheat the meat to an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C) before consuming.

When storing canned meat, it is important to follow proper canning procedures to ensure safety and quality. Canned meat is good for up to one year when canned and stored properly.

how to store canned beef

How Long Can Canned Meat Be Stored?

Canned meat can be stored in your pantry or cold storage for up to 1 year. It should be stored in a cool, dark place. It’s important to check the jars periodically for any signs of spoilage, such as leakage, bulging, or off-odors.

It’s important to keep track of the expiration date of canned meat. Inspect the cans periodically for any signs of spoilage, such as leakage, bulging, or off-odors. If any of these signs are present, the it should not be consumed.

It is recommended to consume the canned meat within 1 year of canning for the best quality and safety. After that, the nutritional value, texture and flavor may decrease. When opening a can of meat, it should be consumed within 3-4 days if stored in the refrigerator and reheated to an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C) before consuming.


Dehydrated (Dried)

Dehydrated beef is cooked meat, also known as beef jerky, can be stored for long periods of time if stored properly. 

Here are a few tips for storing dehydrated beef:

  • Make sure the beef is completely dry before storing. Any moisture can cause the beef to spoil or grow bacteria.
  • Store the beef in an airtight container, such as a vacuum-sealed bag or a mason jar, to prevent air and moisture from getting in.
  • Keep the beef in a cool, dry place with a stable temperature. A pantry or a closet is ideal. Avoid storing in damp or humid places, such as a basement or a garage.
  • Store the beef in the dark, the light can cause the beef to spoil or lose its color.
  • Label the package with the date that it was stored, so you can track of how long it has been stored.
  • Inspect the beef periodically for any signs of spoilage, such as discoloration, off-odors, or mold.
how to store dehydrated beef or jerky

How Long Can Dehydrated Meat Be Stored?

Dehydrated beef, also known as beef jerky, can be stored for long periods of time when stored properly. When stored in a cool, dry place, in an airtight container such as a mylar bag and/or vacuum seal bag with an oxygen absorber, dehydrated beef can be stored for up to 1 year (365 days).

However, it’s important to note that while dehydrating beef can help to preserve it for an extended period of time, the texture and taste of the meat can change over time. Therefore, it’s best to consume it within 1 year for best quality. After that, the nutritional value, texture, and flavor of the dehydrated beef may decrease.

It’s also important to check the package for any signs of spoilage, such as discoloration, off-odors, or mold. If any of these signs are present, the dehydrated beef should not be consumed.


Freeze-Drying

Freeze-dried cooked beef or meat is a great option for long-term storage as it can be stored for up to 25 years if stored properly. See if buying a home freeze dryer is worth it for you. We typically cook ground beef or other meat before we freeze dry and store it.

Here are a few tips for storing cooked freeze-dried meat:

  • Store the cooked meat in an airtight container, such as a mylar bag, vacuum-sealed bag, or a mason jar, to prevent air and moisture from getting in. Also, make sure you use oxygen absorbers see how.
  • Put the meat in a cool, dry place with a stable temperature. A pantry or a closet is ideal. Avoid storing in damp or humid places, such as a basement or a garage.
  • Store the meat in the dark place, the light can cause it to spoil or lose its color.
  • Label the package with the date that it was stored, so you can track of how long it has been stored.
how to store freeze dried beef

How Long Can Freeze Dried Beef Be Stored?

Freeze-dried beef can be stored for up to 25 years in a cool, dry place. It’s important to note that while freeze-drying beef can help to preserve it for an extended period of time, the texture and taste of the cooked meat can change over time. Therefore, it’s best to consume it within 25 years for best quality.

When beef is stored for many years it is a good idea to inspect the beef for any signs of spoilage, such as discoloration, off-odors, or mold.


Curing

After curing beef, it’s important to store it properly to ensure safety and quality. See how to cure meat from the webstrauntstore.

Here are a few tips for storing cured beef:

  • Store the beef in an airtight container, such as a vacuum-sealed bag or a mason jar, to prevent air and moisture from getting in.
  • Store the beef in a cool dry place.
  • Label the package with the date that it was stored, so you can track of how long it has been stored.
  • Inspect the beef periodically for any signs of spoilage, such as discoloration, off-odors, or mold.

When storing cured beef long-term, it is important to ensure that it is vacuum sealed or stored in an airtight container to prevent oxidation, moisture, and bacteria growth. You should avoid storing cured beef in damp or humid places, such as a basement or a garage, as this can cause the meat to spoil or the packaging to fail.

How Long Can Cured Beef Be Stored?

Cured beef can be stored for 6-12 months for the best quality.

It’s important to note that although curing beef can help to preserve it for many days, the texture and taste of the meat can change over time. Therefore, it’s best to consume it within 6 months for best quality.

It’s also important to check the package for any signs of spoilage, such as discoloration, off-odors, or mold. If any of these signs are present, the cured beef should not be consumed. It’s also important to follow food safety guidelines, especially when curing beef at home, to ensure the safety of the product.
*It’s important to note that curing beef at home can be risky, if not done properly as it can cause food poisoning within several days. It’s important to follow the safety guidelines and use the right curing agents recommended by USDA when curing beef at home.

Kaycee Blair

I'm Kaycee Blair, co-owner of EZ-Prepping with my husband Colton. My family is the most important thing to me in this world. I couldn't bear watching my two little boys go hungry so finding easy and practical ways to be prepared for the future by building food storage and gathering other emergency preparedness items has become a passion to me.

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