Storing Marinated Meat: Shelf Life & Best Practices

Marinated meat is the most flavorful dish that you can ever whip up! However, it can also be the most time-consuming. After all, some recipes will require you to marinade the meat for hours. Because of this, a lot of meat lovers would tend to marinate lots of meat slices all at once. They would then refrigerate all the other slices for future use.

If this is your strategy too, it is essential that you determine how long can you keep marinated meat in the fridge. Well, this article will definitely give you the answer that you are looking for.

How Long Can You Keep Marinated Meat in the Fridge?

As per the guidelines provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, you can safely consume refrigerated marinated meat for up to five days.

Aside from this, one crucial question that meat lovers are asking is—can you freeze marinated meat? Well, some people do that, but food experts may not agree with this method. This is because it is not a good idea to re-freeze thawed meat as doing so can alter its texture.

But if you plan to marinate your steaks right away (without freezing it first then thawing before marinating), you can store them in the freezer (but you need to drain the marinade). While frozen steaks can last for years, you should understand the fact that its flavor and texture may deteriorate beyond nine months.

Storing Marinated Meat

How to Store Marinated Meat

If you want to your marinated meat to last for long, it is best that you practice safety precautions when storing your marinated meat. How you store your marinated meat can also affect their texture and flavor. Considering all of these, here are some tips on how to properly store marinated meat:

Storing Marinated Meat in the Refrigerator

Transfer the marinated meat together with its marinade in an airtight container. Place it in the coldest area of your refrigerator. Avoid opening the container from time to time to avoid bacterial contamination.

Storing Marinated Meat in the Freezer

When storing marinated meat in the freezer, your goal should be to avoid freezer burn and prevent bacterial contamination. To do this, you need to wrap your marinated meat using a porous plastic. After that, cover the entire plastic in either aluminum foil, freezer bag or any sealed plastic bag that is designed to withstand the harsh temperatures in the freezer.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Marinating Meat

Marinades can add a touch of flavor and pizzazz to your meat dishes—but that is only when it is done right. If done wrong, it will not only destroy the meat’s flavor—it will also hasten the meat’s spoilage which will put all your efforts to waste. To avoid that, please keep in mind the following do’s and don’ts when marinating meat:

Do include an acidic ingredient in your marinade.

This ingredient is necessary for tenderizing the meat and to facilitate the proper infusion of flavor into the meat. Some of the acidic components that you can add to your marinade include vinegar, wine, citrus juice, buttermilk, and yogurt.

Do flip your meat a few times to marinate it evenly.

Most recipes would ask you to marinate the meat for at least two hours. During this time, it is best that you flip the meat to its different sides from time to time. In this way, you are sure that all sides of the meat are evenly marinated.

If you plan to grill your meat, do include cooking oils with high point smoke in your marinade.

These oils help the fatty tissues to absorb the flavors in the marinade fully. Since they have high smoke points, these are also grill- and flame- friendly. Some of the high smoke point oils that you can use include olive oil, soy oil, canola, peanut, and safflower.

Do marinate the meat in the refrigerator.

You will come across various recipes that will ask you to marinate the meat at room temperature. Do not follow that. This is because marinating your meat in room temperature can put your meat at the danger zone. This is the range of temperature wherein the bacteria multiply and may lead to contamination.

Do boil the marinade before using it in cooking your food.

If you plan on using your marinade in cooking your food, it is recommended that you boil it first to kill the bacteria that may be living in it. But if possible, it is recommended that you prepare more marinade. Divide it into two—one for marinating and one for cooking.

Don’t put in too much salt.

Many people think that the more salt a marinade has, the more flavorful it can be. However, salt tends to draw out moisture from the meat, leaving it dry and less juicy. If you want to add salt, you can add it later after marinating.

Don’t use metal containers when marinating meat.

This is the biggest no-no when marinating meat. This is because the acids in the marinade will react with the metals in the container. This chemical reaction may change the flavor of the meat. Instead of using metal containers, go for containers made of food-grade plastic or glass. You can also place your meat in heavy-duty plastic bags.

Do not freeze meat in their marinade.

You can freeze marinated meat, but you should never freeze the meat in its marinade. This is because prolonged exposure to the acids in the marinade may alter the meat’s texture. It will get mushy and soft—two qualities you would never want your meat to have.

Storing Marinated Meat

In Summary

How long can you keep marinated meat in the fridge? When refrigerated, your marinated meat can only last for five days. Even if it is safe to eat beyond that point, it is recommended that you cook it before that time simply because marinating meat beyond that time would alter the flavor that you would want to achieve.

It is also vital that you practice safe marinating procedures to ensure that you can take advantage of the maximum shelf life of the marinated meat without having to deal with spoilage and bacterial contamination.

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