Ground beef is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be used to make many recipes from a plethora of different cultures. It can be found in dishes such as cottage pie, burritos, and tacos, and can also be used to make your own burger patties. Because of how versatile it is, it is very easy to accidentally buy and cook far too much of it. So, how long is cooked ground beef good for?
Table of Contents
- How is Ground Beef Made?
- Cooked Ground Beef Shelf Life
- How to tell if Cooked Ground Beef has gone Bad
- FAQs on Cooked Ground Beef
How is Ground Beef Made?
Ground beef is made quite easily using different cuts of beef such as steaks or roasts. These pieces are put into a meat grinder which allows for them to be cut up (aka ground) into the thin stringy bits that you see in the supermarket or butcher’s.
When cutting up a carcass to harvest beef, there are some very small cuts known as trimmings. These are typically too small and have too much fat in them. So they need to be blended instead of being ground. Once they are blended into almost a paste, it is then added to the grinder and will be placed in with other cuts.
When making ground beef, it is common for a ratio of lean to fat to be established. This ratio will determine how much of the beef is pure meat and how much of it is fat. It is not able to be sold if there is 30% or more fat content in the ground meat as that is too much fat and not enough lean meat.
The reason small fatty pieces are blended before being ground is that they will most likely mess with the texture of the end result. When people think of ground beef, it is very meaty and lean. Having strands that are pure fat would ruin this texture and are therefore avoided.
Can you make Ground Beef at Home?
Ground beef can easily be made at home by anyone.
While it is best recommended to be done using a meat grinder, which can be bought quite cheaply from almost anywhere that sells kitchen products, you can choose to use a knife. Although, using a knife will take a lot more time and effort and is not always worth the effort.
Using a meat grinder is very simple as they usually come with an instruction manual on how to use them safely and efficiently. There is a chamber that you push the meat through while you turn a handle that is on the side. Out of the front of the meat grinder, the beef will emerge and shall be properly grounded. It is best to have a bowl or a collector of sorts under this part just to catch anything that falls. Some meat grinders will come with a spare part that can be used to help push the meat through while it is being ground.
To prepare meat for the meat grinder, ensure there are no large chunks of fat on the meat. Fat caps should be cut off and optionally blended if you want to incorporate them into your end mix.
Cooked Ground Beef Shelf Life
The shelf life of cooked ground beef is quite good. If you have loads of it to spare and are wanting to use it in future recipes, you have quite a bit of time to play with before the meat will spoil or go bad.
How long does Cooked Ground Beef last for in the Fridge?
Storing ground beef in the fridge is optimal if you are intending to use it in the next 5 days. The fridge will only slow down the process of bacterial growth and will not fully prevent it, this is why there is still a time limit you have before the meat is no longer edible.
If stored properly, in an airtight container, in the fridge, you can store it safely for up to 5 days. This is plenty of time to find a way to use it before this time runs out.
Before storing it in the fridge, make sure that your ground beef is at room temperature. Warm food being placed in the fridge can encourage bacteria to grow as it is the ideal condition for breeding.
How long does Cooked Ground Beef last for in the Freezer?
If you are looking for a way to store some cooked ground beef for the long term, freezing it is a very good idea. This is mainly for when you do not intend on eating the beef within the next week and instead want to store it for a few months.
The beef will be safe to eat for up to 3 months. After this, there will be a noticeable decrease in quality in terms of flavor and texture.
Storing ground beef in the freezer is very easy. You only need to use an airtight bag and container. It is best to suck all of the air out of the bag after placing the beef in there. Then place the bag in the container. This will prevent freezer burn. Similar to storing food in the fridge, it is best to wait until the food is at room temperature before you freeze it.
When freezing your ground beef, it is highly recommended that you freeze it in portions. This allows you to have complete control over how much you thaw at a time. If you thaw the entire amount of ground beef, it is not recommended that you freeze it again. Therefore, thawing only what you need is a great way to ensure all of it stays as fresh as possible.
How long does Cooked Ground Beef last for at Room Temperature?
Cooked ground beef cannot last for very long at room temperature. The heat of the food as it is freshly cooked mixed with the natural moisture content of the food will lead to an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. The bacteria will grow over time. It’s relatively safe to eat until the 2-hour mark when the bacterial growth is so bad that it is deemed unsafe to eat.
It is best to either use, eat, or store the food in the fridge or freezer before it stays out for 2 hours.
How to tell if Cooked Ground Beef has gone Bad
The best way to tell if your ground beef has gone bad is to smell it. When bacteria grow to a point where your food is unsafe to eat, they tend to produce a smell. It’ll be bad enough to instantly notice.
If you smell your ground beef and notice anything sour or out of the ordinary, chances are that your food has spoiled. It is best to immediately discard the beef and not eat it.
Another way to check the health of your food is look for any visible mold or unnatural blemishes. Bacteria have a habit of making food slimier than it naturally is. If there is mold growing on your food it will be noticeable.
Any signs of these will make the food dangerous. So it is best you throw it away. Some people try to just cut off the part that is growing mold. That is not acceptable. It is still moldy all over – just not to a point where it is as visible.
FAQs on Cooked Ground Beef
Does cooked ground beef go bad?
Cooked ground beef does go bad, although depending on how you store it, the time it takes will change. If left at room temperature, it will go bad roughly two hours after you have left it to sit. The fridge can easily store the food for up to 5 days before it spoils and the freezer can store food for a long time, up to three months, until there is a noticeable decrease in quality and flavor.
How can you tell if cooked ground beef is bad?
Telling if your cooked beef is bad is quite easy. The best way to do this is by smelling the beef and seeing if there is anything wrong with the scent it is producing. When bacteria is growing, it produces a putrid smell that can be easily noticed. If you smell this or anything unpleasant, throw the beef away.