Steak is a beloved meat, often the star of the show in great meals.
But what happens when you buy too much or are unable to finish all of the steak you’ve prepared?
Vacuum sealing is a popular storage method, but how long can you expect those steaks to last before they go bad?
Vacuum sealed steak can last up to two weeks in the refrigerator, and up to six months in the freezer when stored properly. Knowing the right storage methods helps keep steak fresh and delicious. Vinegar and salt marinades can extend the lifespan of steak as well.
In this article, we will discuss in detail the factors that affect the shelf-life of vacuum sealed steak, tips for proper storage, and how to determine if the meat has gone bad.
By following simple guidelines, you can enjoy your steak well beyond its purchase date.
What is Vacuum-Sealed Steak?
Vacuum sealed steak is a method of packaging meat, typically beef, by removing the air from a plastic bag and creating a tight seal. This process not only reduces the amount of space the meat takes up in the freezer or refrigerator, but it also prevents exposure to air and moisture, which are key factors leading to spoilage.
Vacuum sealing is an optimal way of increasing shelf-life because it prevents oxidation and limits the growth of bacteria. This is due to the fact that vacuum sealing meat removes the oxygen necessary for bacteria to grow, reducing the risk of spoiling.
How Long Does Vacuum Sealed Steak Last?
The shelf-life for vacuum sealed steak can vary based on several factors such as temperature, the packaging process, marinades used, and the initial freshness of the meat.
If stored properly in the refrigerator at a consistent temperature of 35-40°F (1.6 to 4.4°C), vacuum sealed steak can last up to two weeks. However, it is important to know that this shelf-life is heavily dependent on the initial freshness of the meat that is being stored.
Storing vacuum sealed steak in the freezer is an option if you don’t plan on consuming it within the recommended timeframe. Unlike refrigeration, the freezer can extend the shelf-life of vacuum sealed steak to six months.
When storing in the freezer, it is essential that the meat is tightly sealed and free from any air pockets in order to prevent freezer burn. If vacuum sealed correctly, the steak can maintain its quality and flavor for up to six months.
How to Store Vacuum Sealed Steak?
Proper storage techniques are an essential part of increasing the shelf-life of vacuum sealed steak. Here are some tips to help you store the meat correctly:
- Check the Meat before Vacuum Sealing: It is essential to ensure the meat is in excellent condition before the vacuum sealing process. Vacuum sealing extends the storage life of the meat, but it doesn’t halt spoilage that might have started. Always choose fresh steaks that have good texture and colouration.
- Remove Air from the Package: Removing air from the packaging is key to the vacuum sealing process. Free air will speed up the oxidation process and make steak more susceptible to harmful bacteria.
- Keep in the Appropriate Temperature: Temperature is a major factor contributing to the shelf-life of vacuum sealed steak. Refrigerator temperatures should be kept below 40°F (4.4°C). When storing in the freezer, ensure the temperature is kept in the range of 0°F to -2°F (-17.8°C to -18.9°C).
- Separate Steak by Portions: Separating the steak by portions helps prevent the need to defrost the entire package just to access a portion you need. It also helps limit unnecessary exposure to air and ensures long-term survival.
- Freeze and Refrigerate as Quickly as Possible: To ensure that steak lasts longer, vacuum seals them as soon as they have cooled down after cooking. Storing steak quickly after the vacuum sealing process is essential in maintaining their freshness.
How to Determine when Vacuum Sealed Steak has Gone Bad?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to evaluating vacuum sealed steak for spoilage. Here are three major indicators from which you can evaluate whether or not your vacuum sealed steak is no longer suitable for consumption:
- Pungent Smell: A strong, sour or uncharacteristic odour indicates that the steak has reached the end of its shelf life.
- Change in Texture: The texture of the steak can be evaluated by feel. If it feels slimy or sticky, this is a sign that harmful bacteria may be growing, making it unsuitable for consumption.
- Discolouration: If the usual colour or texture of the steak changes – take it as a clear indication that it’s gone bad. Steak that has taken on shades of grey, brown or black are some indicators of spoilage.
Vinegar and Salt Marinades
Vinegar and salt marinades are an excellent way to preserve the freshness of vacuum sealed steak for longer duration. The salt mold will help in curbing the growth of bacteria, while vinegar adds a tangy flavor and tenderizes the meat. Here are helpful tips for using vinegars and salts in your marinades:
One commonly used type of vinegar is apple cider vinegar. Its tangy flavor and mild acidity make it an excellent meat tenderizer. Another type of vinegar you can use is red-wine vinegar. Its woody flavour is a good match for red meats like lamb and beef.
For salt mixes, you might choose to go with kosher salt, depending on the steak cut and thickness. Coarse or flaky salt is ideal for marinades, giving the meat a crunchy edge.
In conclusion, vacuum-sealed steak can last up to two weeks in the refrigerator and up to six months in the freezer, when stored correctly. Vinegar and salt marinades can prolong the shelf-life of vacuum-sealed steak and provide added flavor and tenderness.
To protect the freshness and quality of vacuum sealed steak, you must evaluate it periodically for signs of spoilage. Basic visual observations like colour changes, unusual aromas, and texture changes can give you an idea of whether or not it is safe to consume.
By following the tips for proper storage and marinading, you can enjoy steak well beyond its original life span. With practiced techniques become perfect, and the food you store, consume, and share can become an enjoyable part of your life. Happy cooking!
Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.