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We love a nice, juicy ribeye or T-bone steak and it’s not often but occasionally we find ourselves incapable of finishing that glorious piece of steak. But when that rare occasion does happen, we store the leftover cooked steak properly.
The price of steak is frequently expensive, so when you do pick some up for a nice steak dinner, wasting any of that precious meat is out of the question.
We store cooked steaks one of two ways: In the refrigerator or freezer
In order to make certain that cooked steak stays fresh, there are a few safety factors to keep in mind when storing it in the refrigerator or freezer.
In this article we want to simplify the process of saving cooked steak leftovers and explain some basic practices of maintaining cooked steaks freshness until the time comes for you to relish them again.
1. How to Store Cooked Steak in the Fridge?
Have you ever reheated a piece of cooked steak, only to have it end up with the consistency of a piece of shoe leather? Tough, dry and flavorless. Most people would assume that the problem was the way it was reheated, but the reality is that how you store a piece of cooked steak has more to do with how it reheats that you realize.
Retaining as much of the natural juices is the key to storing a steak in the fridge. This helps maintain the flavor and texture of your steak. Keeping your steak leftovers well sealed also keeps them from drying out.
For best results in storing cooked steaks in the fridge, start by letting it cool adequately. Don’t let this cool down last more than two hours, for food safety reasons. Then, cut, dice, or slice your steak as desired, and seal in an airtight container.
How Long is Cooked Steak Safe in the Refrigerator?
Is the smell test your way of determining if your leftovers are still good? If it is, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people use the smell test or a visual examination of leftover steak as a cue for freshness. The problem with this is that just because a steak looks OK or smells OK, it may not be safe.
A good rule of thumb for cooked steak in the refrigerator is to use it within three days of storing it. You may be able to stretch this to a week, but much longer than that and you are risking a bout of food poisoning or at the very least a steak that doesn’t taste very good.
To increase the shelf life of cooked steak in the fridge, use a shallow, airtight container. You can also wrap tightly in heavy-duty foil or plastic wrap. If you have the tools, vacuum sealing is an even better option.
Do keep in mind that refrigerating cooked steak doesn’t keep bacteria from growing. Make sure you don’t allow it to sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours, and don’t store it for more than a week.
2. How to Store Cooked Steak in the Freezer?
The benefit of freezing cooked steak is to eliminate the potential for bacteria and microorganisms to grow on your tasty left-overs. Freezing is really the safest way to store cooked foods.
Many people question the quality of foods after they have been frozen. Cooked meats do particularly well in the freezer. Unlike vegetables, you don’t have to worry about your cooked steaks losing nutrients.
The most important part of freezing cooked meat is how it is wrapped. Meat that isn’t well wrapped can become freezer burned. This creates an unpleasant taste and dries out the meat.
For the best results we recommend using a vacuum sealer with freezer specific wrap for the best results. This method seals in juices and keeps air from drying out the meat. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, and aren’t ready to make that investment, the next best way to wrap your cooked steak is to first wrap the steak in a layer of freezer paper.
Before you wrap or vacuum seal your cooked steak or meat, do make sure that you slice, chop, shred or otherwise prepare the meat. This also includes deboning a steak. It’s usually more convenient to store a cooked steak without the bone.
There is a specific technique you’ll want to employ for wrapping your steak before freezing to maintain the best quality. First, if you’re storing more than a single steak, wrap each piece of meat in it’s own piece of freezer paper. Then put the steaks in a zippered, plastic freezer bag. Before completely sealing the bag, squeeze out as much air as possible from the bag.
When placing your cooked steaks in the freezer, make sure that they are lying flat and have plenty of space around them for adequate air circulation. The best place in your freezer for steaks is on the bottom shelf. In case the bag is punctured this will keep the juices from your cooked steaks from dripping on to other foods.
How Long is Cooked Steak Safe in the Freezer?
In general cooked steak that is frozen can comfortably be stored for up to three months. Storing steak leftovers any longer than three months can cause your steak to dry out or lose its flavor. If you have a deep freeze (temp below 0°F) you can store longer, but the meat will likely dry out over time.
Most people will agree that steak is really best when it is fresh. And left-over steak is OK, but certainly doesn’t hit the spot like a fresh, juicy steak hot off the grill. However, with meat prices going up, it makes a lot of sense to get the most from your money and find ways to use your steak leftovers.
Storing your steak properly is the first and most important step in ensuring that your steak leftovers have the taste and texture of steak, and not a dry old shoe.