How Long Does Smoked Meat Last: 11 Methods and Meats Considered

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Last updatedLast updated: May 31, 2021
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Smoked meat is a delicious treat that is normally reserved for a special occasion. Smoking a large piece of meat will be great to feed everyone, but what about the leftovers? How long does smoked meat last?

The process of smoking your meat cures it, which means that you can keep it longer compared to using a different cooking method. For example, in the Paleolithic era, there was no such thing as a refrigerator, so people would need to smoke their meat in order to store it for a longer period of time.

That doesn’t mean that the meat will be safe to eat forever though. So, it’s important to practice safe food storage and know-how to identify if the meat is still safe to eat.

When storing food and taking it out for consumption later, food poisoning becomes a real concern. In this article, we will look at different types of smoked meats and how to store them and answer the age-old question. How long does smoked meat last?

How long can smoked meat last?

Meat that has been smoked will be safe to eat for up to four days after it has been cooked. The meat must be stored in the fridge within two hours of cooking. If you want to save the meat longer, you can wrap it tightly, place it in an air-tight container and freeze it. This method can make the meat last up to three months.

The most important part about storing food is handling it in a safe manner:

  • Never let cooked meat touch the same surface that raw meat was prepared on.
  • Always refrigerate food as soon as possible. This must be done in the first two hours after cooking it.
  • Once you have refrigerated the food, it can’t be frozen later on and needs to be thrown away.
  • Make sure food is stored in airtight containers.
  • Wrap the food in butchers’ paper, plastic wrap or tin foil.
  • Make sure you label food and include the date it was refrigerated.
  • If you have a power failure and the food has thawed it’s not safe to eat and should be thrown away.
  • Frozen food should be stored in vacuum-sealed bags and then frozen immediately.
  • Always wash your hands when working with food and practice good hygiene.
  • If the food has a strange color or smells weird, throw it away.

Without refrigerator

How Long Does Smoked Meat Last: 11 Methods and Meats Considered

How long can smoked meat last without refrigeration? Although this was the only method of storing smoked meat before the invention of the refrigerator, this is not an ideal way to store smoked meat.

People used to cut the meat into very small thin strips and soak them in a salt solution. This allowed them to keep the meat for up to a month.

Unfortunately, this method does not stop the growth of bacteria and if consumed, that often leads to digestive problems. I’m sure you don’t feel like cutting up your rack of ribs or barbeque and then covering it in a salt mixture. Refrigeration is your best option to keep the meat from spoiling.

In the fridge

How Long Does Smoked Meat Last: 11 Methods and Meats Considered

How long will smoked meat last? The golden rule of storing meat is to put it in the fridge as soon as possible. Any meat should not be left unrefrigerated for more than two hours after cooking. This is when harmful bacteria will start to form. So, how long will smoked meat last in the fridge? Even when the meat is refrigerated properly it shouldn’t be consumed after more than four days. After that, it will no longer be considered safe to eat.

Vacuum sealed

How Long Does Smoked Meat Last: 11 Methods and Meats Considered

How long does vacuum sealed smoked meat last? Vacuum sealing your meat allows you to remove excess air and helps keep the flavor locked in. You can keep vacuum sealed meat in the fridge for up to five days. This makes a vacuum sealer a good investment to prevent food wastage. Cooking and preparing meals will become more relaxing, cheaper and easier when you use a model like the Vacuum Sealer By NutriChef.

If you freeze it following safe food storage practices the meat can be safely stored for up to six months.

How long will smoked meat last by method

When it comes to food storage, improper food handling greatly reduces the shelf-life of your meat. You need to avoid cross-contamination and stop bacteria breeding on your meat.

Freezing and storing the smoked meat correctly will allow it to be edible for a much longer time period.

Roasting

How Long Does Smoked Meat Last: 11 Methods and Meats Considered

How long will smoked meat last if roasted too? Roasted smoked meat can be kept in the refrigerator for up to four days or frozen for up to three months. The meat needs to be handled correctly and safe storage practices must be followed.

If it’s wrapped and stored in an air-tight container then it can safely be frozen for up to three months. The meat should first be wrapped in plastic.

If you freeze it correctly you can enjoy that delicious barbeque flavor for a long time. Simply, freeze it in small containers, then you can thaw one out whenever the craving strikes. Heat, eat and know that your barbeque is as fresh as the day it was cooked.

Warm smoking

How Long Does Smoked Meat Last: 11 Methods and Meats Considered

Warm smoking meat involves cooking the meat at a temperature between 77- and 104-degrees Fahrenheit. This method is used to partially smoke bacon before it’s frozen, packaged and sold in a supermarket.

Warm smoking meats such as pork and chicken can be tricky as you need to enter the danger zone. Temperatures between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit are known as the danger zone because cooking in these conditions can lead to food poisoning if you aren’t careful.

Hot smoking

How Long Does Smoked Meat Last: 11 Methods and Meats Considered

In order to hot smoke your meat, you need to smoke it at a temperature of between 225- and 250-degrees Fahrenheit for a longer period of time. The cut of meat will determine how long it needs to be smoked for.

Smoking takes a long time so using a side wood chip loading system allows you to add wood chips without opening the door. This is ideal because you won’t need to disturb the meat. Models such as the Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker are ideal for smoking your meat in this way.

Once cooked the meat can be refrigerated and will be safe to eat for up to four days.

Cold smoking

How Long Does Smoked Meat Last: 11 Methods and Meats Considered

How long does cold smoked meat last? This method of cooking was used by our ancestors before the invention of modern technology. The meat was first rubbed with salt to slow the growth of bacteria. This process was known as “curing the meat”.

After the meat was cured sufficiently it was hung in a tree and left to air dry for about 12 hours. This caused the meat to develop a thin sticky coating, which is called a pellicle. Once this layer is deemed sufficient the meat is smoked at just under 90 degrees Fahrenheit for a few days.

How long is smoked meat good for

The rule of thumb is, with proper food handling and storage, the smoked meat can be kept in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Pork

How Long Does Smoked Meat Last: 11 Methods and Meats Considered

Turkey

How Long Does Smoked Meat Last: 11 Methods and Meats Considered

How long does smoked turkey last? Turkey can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days as long as it has been stored correctly. Wrapping the meat in butchers’ paper and then in tin foil is the best option for storage.

Chicken

How Long Does Smoked Meat Last: 11 Methods and Meats Considered

How long does smoked chicken last? Smoked chicken that is left out in room temperature conditions should be discarded. It can be stored safely in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. If you vacuum seal the meat it can last up to 7 days and if you freeze it, for up to 1 month.

Chicken can make you very sick if you don’t handle it properly. When in doubt, rather throw it out.

Beef

How Long Does Smoked Meat Last: 11 Methods and Meats Considered

Smoked beef can be stored in the fridge for up to four days, provided it was refrigerated within two hours of being cooked. If you wrap and freeze it following safe food storage guidelines, you can store it in the freezer for up to three months.

Final thoughts

Smoking meat allows you to keep it for longer because it kills any bacteria that is present on the surface of the meat. The smoke penetrates the meat and stops additional bacteria from growing inside the meat. The best way to prolong the life of your meat is to cure, smoke then freeze it.

By storing smoked meat correctly, you won’t need to throw it away, or waste food that would have otherwise gone bad. Simply following these easy tips will teach you how to be food safe.

How long does smoked meat last? Depending on the type of meat and how it’s smoked this handy guide should point you in the right direction.

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