Beef sticks are a popular snack for many people, whether they’re on the go or just looking for a quick bite. But how long can you keep them in the refrigerator before they go bad?
The answer may surprise you. In this article, we’ll explore the shelf life of beef sticks and provide tips on how to properly store them to ensure they stay fresh for as long as possible.
So, grab a snack and let’s dive in!
How Long Do Beef Sticks Last In Refrigerator?
Beef sticks are a type of cured meat that can last for a long time if stored properly. When unopened, commercial beef sticks can last up to one year from the date of production without refrigeration. However, once opened, they should be refrigerated and consumed within three days for optimal freshness.
It’s important to note that certain conditions, such as storage temperature, heat, and sunlight, can cause packaged meat to go bad. Therefore, it’s essential to inspect the beef sticks through texture, taste, and smell before consuming them. If the best before date has passed, you may still use them if they haven’t been exposed to moisture or other external factors.
According to MyRecipes, beef sticks can be refrigerated for up to three days. It’s recommended to store them in an airtight container to prevent moisture from getting in and causing spoilage. It’s also important to avoid putting finished sticks in a zip lock bag as this can create moisture and cause them to go bad within days.
What Are Beef Sticks And How Are They Made?
Beef sticks are a popular snack food made from ground beef that is seasoned and cured. They are similar to jerky, but are often thinner and come in a tubular shape. Beef sticks are made by grinding high quality, premium grass-fed beef cuts and mixing them with all-natural seasonings such as salt, pepper, paprika, chile flakes, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and water.
Once the beef is seasoned, it is then stuffed into a casing, which can be made from natural or collagen materials. Some beef sticks are also fermented using a starter culture to give them a classic acidic flavor. After stuffing, the beef sticks are smoked to perfection using real American hickory wood.
It’s important to note that if a beef stick is labeled as such, it must be made with 100% beef. Some products may contain other meats or fillers, so it’s important to read the label carefully before purchasing.
Understanding The Expiration Date On Beef Sticks
When purchasing beef sticks, you may notice two different dates on the packaging: a Best By Date and a Julian Date. These dates can help you determine how long the unopened product will last, but they are different from each other.
The Best By Date is the date from which the manufacturer can no longer guarantee the product’s freshness. This is also known as the expiration date. On the other hand, the Julian Date is the date on which the product was manufactured. The Julian date may be present in a mm/dd/yy format or as a 5 digit code. The first two digits indicate the year that the product was made while the last 3 numbers represent the day of the year.
Beef sticks are dehydrated meat, which means their moisture content is very low. This low moisture content prevents bacteria from growing on them, making them last longer than other types of meat. Additionally, beef sticks are often packaged with oxygen absorbers or vacuum-sealed to increase their shelf life.
When it comes to leftover beef sticks, most producers recommend finishing the package within a couple of days (usually 3 to 5) of opening it. However, as long as you store them well in an airtight container and in a cool, dry place, they can last for up to one month in the refrigerator.
It’s important to remember that homemade beef sticks have a shorter shelf life compared to store-bought ones. Homemade beef sticks may only last up to three months in a dry and cool pantry, and if you want to extend their shelf life, you should store them in the refrigerator or freezer.
Factors That Affect The Shelf Life Of Beef Sticks
Several factors can impact the shelf life of beef sticks, including:
1. Moisture: Beef sticks thrive on dehydration, so it’s essential to keep them dry. Moisture can cause bacterial growth, leading to spoilage and potential health risks.
2. Oxygen: Like beef jerky, beef sticks can last longer due to the absence of oxygen. Oxygen can cause oxidation and spoilage, leading to off-flavors and odors.
3. Temperature: The ideal temperature for storing beef sticks is between 32°F and 40°F. Higher temperatures can cause bacterial growth and spoilage, while lower temperatures can cause the meat to become too hard.
4. Exposure to light: Light exposure can cause the meat to become discolored and affect the flavor. It’s best to store beef sticks in a dark place or in an opaque container.
5. Quality of ingredients: The quality of the meat and other ingredients used in making beef sticks can affect their shelf life. Fresh, high-quality ingredients will last longer than those that are low quality or have been sitting around for a while.
By keeping these factors in mind, you can ensure that your beef sticks last as long as possible and remain safe to eat. Proper storage and handling are essential for maintaining the quality and freshness of your beef sticks.
How To Properly Store Beef Sticks In The Refrigerator
If you’ve opened a package of beef sticks and want to store them in the refrigerator, there are a few steps you should follow to ensure they stay fresh and tasty. First, make sure the beef sticks are placed in an airtight container to prevent moisture from getting in. This can be a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid or a resealable plastic bag that you can squeeze out all the air from.
Next, choose a spot in your refrigerator that is consistently cold, such as the back of the fridge or on a shelf near the bottom. Avoid storing beef sticks in the door of the fridge, as this area experiences temperature fluctuations when the door is opened and closed.
It’s also important to keep beef sticks separate from other foods in the refrigerator to prevent cross-contamination. You can do this by placing them on a separate shelf or in a designated compartment.
When it comes to how long beef sticks last in the refrigerator, it’s best to consume them within three days of opening. If you notice any signs of spoilage, such as a slimy texture or off-putting odor, it’s best to discard them immediately.
Signs That Your Beef Sticks Have Gone Bad
While beef sticks can last for a long time if stored properly, there are certain signs that indicate they have gone bad and should be discarded. Here are some of the signs to look out for:
1. Unpleasant Smell: The smell is a strong indicator of stale food. If your beef sticks have gone bad, they will give off an unpleasant pungent or disgusting scent. You can quickly tell if the meat seems off.
2. Discoloration: Check the color of the beef sticks. If they have developed an unusual color, such as darker than usual, it may be a sign that they have gone bad.
3. Texture Changes: If your beef sticks feel too soft or too hard, it’s a clear indication that they have gone bad. The texture should be firm and pliable but not too soft or mushy.
4. Mold Growth: Check for any signs of mold growth on the beef sticks. Mold typically has a spider-web pattern and is furry, powdery, or fuzzy foreign substances that are white, green, or grey in color.
5. Damaged Packaging: Check for any damages in the packaging, such as rips, tears, or punctures. Damaged packaging can allow bacteria to enter and spoil the beef sticks.
If you notice any of these signs in your beef sticks, it’s best to discard them and not consume them. It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to food safety. Remember to store your beef sticks properly and check them regularly for any signs of spoilage to ensure their optimal freshness and safety for consumption.
Can You Freeze Beef Sticks For Longer Shelf Life?
If you want to extend the shelf life of your beef sticks beyond three days, freezing them is an option. While freezing beef sticks can preserve their freshness for up to 12 months, it’s important to note that the sensory qualities of the jerky, such as taste, texture, and freshness, will be diminished. Therefore, unless you plan on storing beef sticks for over a year, there’s no need to freeze them.
If you do decide to freeze your beef sticks, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it’s best to portion them into freezer bags and place them in the freezer. This helps prevent freezer burn and makes it easier to thaw only what you need. Second, be sure to label and date the bags so that you can keep track of their age and freshness. Finally, when thawing frozen beef sticks, it’s recommended to let them thaw in the refrigerator for best results. This helps maintain their texture and flavor.
It’s important to note that freezing beef sticks can produce different outcomes depending on how they are frozen. Beef sticks that are frozen quickly will be more watery and have a softer texture, while those that are frozen slowly will be firmer and have a chewier texture. Additionally, freezing beef sticks can cause them to lose their flavor and texture over time. Therefore, it’s best to consume them within a reasonable time frame after freezing.