shelf life of meats
When grocery shopping, try to place meats, poultry and fish in your shopping cart last, so they are not out of
refrigeration long. If they are going to be out of refrigeration longer than 30 minutes, place them in a cold storage
bag during shopping or once in the car, place the cold items into a cooler. Also place meats, poultry and fish in plastic
bags to prevent any leakage and cross contamination into other foods.
FISH
Fish should be stored in leak-proof containers for up to two days in the coldest part of your refrigerator (far back
away from door) at 32 - 38 degrees F, or 3 to 10 months frozen. If freezing, over-wrap with freezer paper. Any
cooked leftover fish should be refrigerated or frozen in a covered shallow container within two hours. Always leave
some space around container for cold air to circulate. Parasites are the primary health concern in consuming raw fish,
bacteria can also be a problem. To minimize the risk, do not eat raw or marinated seafood unless the fish has been
adequately frozen to ensure that any parasites are destroyed.

Fish Roe: Thoroughly wash and package in freezer containers or bags and boxes, leaving ¼" head-space. Seal, label
and freeze.

Clams: Clams can be frozen either in the shell or shucked. To freeze the clams in the shell, simply place the live clams
in moisture and vapor-resistant bags. Press out excess air and freeze.
To freeze the clam meat, shuck the clams, then clean and wash the meat thoroughly. Drain and pack in freezer
containers, leaving ½" head-space. Seal, label and freeze.

Crabs: Select only live crabs to prepare for freezing. Crab freezes better if it's left in shell before freezing. Simply
remove the back, legs, entrails and gills either before or after boiling the crab for five minutes. (Be sure to cool the
crab quickly after it is cooked.) The claws and body or core of the crab that still contains the meat should then be
wrapped or ice-glazed and wrapped in freezer wrap or paper. Seal, label and freeze.

Lobster: For best quality, lobster should be frozen uncooked. Freeze the lobster whole, or clean it and freeze just
the shell portions that contain the edible meat. (Some lobsters have large front claws that contain edible meat, while
others have edible meat mainly in the tail section.) Freeze lobster in the shell, to help keep the meat from drying out.
Simply wrap the whole lobster or lobster portions in moisture and vapor-resistant wrapping and freeze. Lobster can be
cooked and then frozen, but the quality will not be as good.

Oysters: Oysters that are still in the shell should only be frozen live. A live oyster will keep its shell tightly closed or will
close when tapped. If you have plenty of freezer space and want to freeze the oysters in the shell, simply wash the
shells thoroughly and place in moisture and vapor-resistant bags.

Shuck the oysters to save freezer space. First, wash the oyster shells, discarding any that have died. Shuck oysters
into a strainer, saving the liquor, and remove any pieces of shell or sand. If necessary, the oysters can be rinsed to
remove any sand. Place oysters and liquor in a plastic container or freezer bag, leaving ½" head-space. Seal, label and
freeze.  Freezing does change the texture and flavor of oysters. These oysters may be best used in casseroles or
stews.

Scallops: Scallops for freezing should be live until shucked. A live scallop will keep its shell tightly closed or will close it
when tapped. To freeze, place shucked scallops in a freezer container, leaving ½" head-space. Seal, label and freeze.

Shrimp: Select high-quality, fresh shrimp for freezing. Shrimp can be frozen cooked or raw, in or out of the shell. For
maximum storage life and quality, freeze shrimp raw, with heads removed, but shells still on. Shrimp may also be
frozen in water in a freezer container. Be sure to wash and drain the shrimp if frozen uncooked. Quickly chill cooked
shrimp before freezing. Package in freezer container or freezer bag, leaving ½" head-space. Seal, label and freeze.
HAM
Canned ham comes in two forms which are shelf stable. Canned ham can be stored for up to 2 years at room
temperature.(Generally not over 3 lbs. In size) Refrigerated ham may be stored in refrigerator for up to 9 months.
Freezer storage times for ham are for best quality. Frozen hams remain safe indefinitely. Bacon may be frozen for 2-3
months, (thaw in refrigerator).
Fresh (uncured) ham uncooked
Fresh (uncured) ham cooked
Cured ham, cook-before-eating
Consumer cooked ham, vacuum sealed
Cooked ham, vacuum sealed at plant undated or dated opened
Fully cooked ham, whole, half, or sliced, stored wrapped
Country ham (dry cured) uncooked,cut
Country ham, cooked
Canned ham, labeled “keep refrigerated”, unopened
Canned ham, labeled “keep refrigerated”, opened
Canned ham, shelf stable, opened
Lunch meat ham, sealed at plant unopened
Lunch meat ham, sealed at plant after opening
Lunch meat ham, sliced in store
Prosciutto, Parma, or Serrano
Ham, dry Italiana or Spanish type, cut
Freezer  0 degrees F

6 Month
3-4 Months
3-4 Months
1-2 Months
1-2 Months
1-2 Months
1 Month
1 Month
Do Not Freeze
1-2 Months in freezer paper
1-2 Months
1-2 Months
1-2 Months
1-2 Months
1 Month
1 Month
BEEF

Steaks
Roast Pot Roast
Beef for Kabobs
Beef for Stew
Beef for Stir Fry
Ground Beef
Leftover Cooked Beef
Ready to Cook Corned Beef
Frankfurters
Deli Products
TV Dinner/Frozen Casserole
Refrigerator 35 - 40 degrees F

3 to 5 days
2 to 3 days
2 to 3 days
2 to 3 days
2 to 3 days
1 to 2 days
3 to 4 days
1 week
1 week
3 to 5 days
NA
Freezer 0 degrees or below

6 to 12 months
6 to 12 months
6 to 12 months
6 to 12 months
6 to 12 months
3 to 4 months
2 to 6 months
2 weeks
1 to 2 months
1 to 2 months
3 to 4 months
POULTRY (CHICKEN & TURKEY)

Whole fresh turkey or chicken
Fresh Chicken, Giblets and Ground Chicken
Cooked Chicken Leftovers
Chicken Broth or Gravy
Cooked Chicken Casseroles or Soup
Cooked Chicken Pcs, covered w/ broth or gravy
Cooked Chicken Nuggets/Patties
Fried Chicken
Take-Out Convenience Chicken (Rotisserie, Fried,etc.)
Restaurant Chicken Leftovers
Store-cooked Chicken Dinner including gravy
Chicken Salad
Deli-sliced Chicken Luncheon Meat

Vacuum-Pkg Dinners, Commercial brand w/ USDA seal
Chicken Hotdogs
Refrigerator 35 - 40 degrees F


1 to 2 days
3 to 4 days
3 to 4 days
1 to 2 days
3 to 4 days
1 to 2 days
3 to 4 days
3 to 4 days
3 to 4 days
3 to 4 days
1 to 2 days
3 to 5 days
3 to 5 days after opening.
Unopened, 2 weeks.
3 to 4 days after opening.
Unopened, 2 weeks. 7 days after
opening (No longer than 1 week
after "sell by" date.)
Freezer 0 degrees or below


1 year
9 months
4 months
6 months
4 to 6 months
6 months
1 to 3 months
4 months
HOT DOGS
Even though they are fully cooked, you should reheat them to make sure they are hot and steamy throughout
before eating. Studies have shown high levels of harmful listeria bacteria on hot dogs. So for added precaution,
persons at risk should avoid eating hot dogs unless they have been properly heated.
LAMB
Purchase lamb before the expiration date on the package. Keep lamb in package until ready to use.
Refrigerate lamb roast and chops 3 to 5 days
Ground lamb 1 to 2 days ( 3 to 4 days after cooking)
Use frozen lamb roasts and chops within 6 to 9 month
Frozen ground lamb should be used within 3 to 4 months
www.bestifusedby.com
FREEZING AND DEFROSTING BEEF
It is safe to freeze beef in its original packaging or repackage it. For long-term freezing, over wrap the porous store
plastic with aluminum foil, freezer paper, or freezer weight plastic wrap or bags to prevent freezer burn which appears
as grayish-brown leathery spots and is caused by air reaching the surface of the food.Cut freezer burned portions
away either before or after cooking the beef. Heavily freezer-burned products may have to be discarded for quality
reasons.
Never defrost meats on the kitchen counter!

It's best to defrost in the refrigerator. Ground beef, stew meat, and steaks may defrost within a day. Bone-in
part and whole roasts may take 2 days or longer. Once the raw beef defrosts, it will be safe in the refrigerator for 3
to 5 days before cooking. During this time, if you decide not to use the beef, you can safely return it to the freezer
without cooking it first. Defrosting this way allows the meat to reabsorb moisture from melting ice crystals. Always use
a drip pan under the meat when defrosting this way.
Cold Water Defrosting: Clams can be frozen either in the shell or shucked. To freeze the clams in the shell, simply
place the live clams in moisture and vapor-resistant bags. Press out excess air and freeze.
To freeze the clam meat, shuck the clams, then clean and wash the meat thoroughly. Drain and pack in freezer
containers, leaving ½" head-space. Seal, label and freeze.
Microwave Defrosting: Select only live crabs to prepare for freezing. Crab freezes better if it's left in shell before
freezing. Simply remove the back, legs, entrails and gills either before or after boiling the crab for five minutes. (Be
sure to cool the crab quickly after it is cooked.) The claws and body or core of the crab that still contains the meat
should then be wrapped or ice-glazed and wrapped in freezer wrap or paper. Seal, label and freeze.

It is safe to cook frozen beef in the oven, stove, and grill without defrosting it first. The cooking time may be about
50% longer. Do not cook frozen beef in a slow cooker. Cooked food that has been left on a kitchen counter
overnight should be thrown out!!!

DEFROSTING HAM
Thawing ham in the refrigerator is the recommended method for both reliability and safety. Leave the meat wrapped
in its original packaging to prevent dehydration and place on the lowest shelf away from other foods in the
refrigerator. Place ham on a platter or tray to catch the drippings as it thaws. Allow 4 to 6 hours per pound. After
thawing it may be refrigerated safely for 3 to 5 days.
FREEZING AND DEFROSTING POULTRY
Freeze fresh chicken or turkey if you do not plan on cooking it within 2 days of purchase date. If kept frozen
continuously, it will be safe indefinitely however for best quality freeze and use within 6 to 12 months. If freezing
chicken for longer than 2 months, it's best to over wrap the porous store plastic packages with an airtight heavy-duty
foil or plastic wrap or freezer paper, or place the package inside a freezer bag.
When purchasing fully cooked rotisserie or fast food, be sure it is hot at the time of purchase. Use it within two hours
or cut it into several pieces and refrigerate it in shallow, covered containers. Eat within 3 or 4 days, either cold or
reheated to 165 degrees F (hot and steaming). It is safe to freeze ready-prepared chicken. For best quality, flavor
and texture, use within 4 months.
Never thaw at room temperature on the counter, as bacteria can multiply rapidly, leading to
potential food poisoning. Don't refreeze thawed chicken or turkey.

Microwave: Thaw frozen uncooked and cooked poultry safely and quickly in the microwave following the
manufacturer's directions. Turn chicken and separate parts as they thaw, so that the chicken doesn't begin to cook.
Refrigerator: Thaw frozen uncooked and cooked poultry gradually in the refrigerator. Place poultry in a dish or
baking pan with sides to prevent leaking during the thawing period. A 4 lb. frozen chicken will thaw in approximately
24 hours; cut-up parts require 3 to 9 hours, depending on the size and number of parts. A 15 lb. turkey will take 3
days to defrost in the refrigerator. For frozen turkeys, allow 5 hours per pound when defrosting in the refrigerator.
Sink or deep pan of cold water: Thaw frozen uncooked poultry by completely covering with cold water. Change
the water every 30 minutes to keep it cold. Keep poultry in its original wrapper during thawing, or place in a
resealable, heavy-duty plastic bag. Allow 30 minutes per pound to thaw. A 15 lb. turkey will take 7 to 8 hours with
this method.
FREEZING AND DEFROSTING FISH
Freezing fish at 0 degrees for 18 to 48 hours will kill all parasites that may be present, however, for larger fish four to
five days may be required. Commercially frozen fish are usually held at even colder temperatures and are essentially
free of parasites. Pickled products, such as pickled herring, are not a problem. The acidity of the vinegar used in
pickling, often in combination with salt, preserves products and destroys parasites and harmful bacteria. If cooking fish,
it is best to do so as soon as possible. Odor and appearance are the best means of assessing freshness in seafood. Fish
that have a strong, objectionable odor or have an ammonia odor should be rejected. When evaluating whole fish,
look at the eyes-they should be clear and should not be sunken. The gills should be bright red and free from slime.
Scales should be firmly attached to skin, and the skin should be shiny. For dressed or filleted products, avoid those
that show signs of discoloration.

The best way to thaw frozen fish, unless you plan to bread, stuff or broil it, is to pat the surface dry with a paper
towel and cook it. If you are preparing the fish with a coating, stuffing, or cooking in the broiler, it's best to defrost
the fish in the refrigerator.
To make the fish taste fresher, rinse it and soak it in milk as it thaws. Don't rinse the fish again when you take it out
of the refrigerator, just pat it dry and cook it. Typical time to defrost fish in the refrigerator is 6 to 8 hours per pound.
Fish may also be defrosted under cold running water. Don't let the fish defrost completely as this will dry out the fish.
Typical time for a pound of fish is 1 to 2 hours.
Shellfish should be thawed until just pliable, with a few ice crystals still present when you begin cooking. Shrimp can
be soaked in salt water while thawing in the refrigerator. (1to 2 tablespoons of salt per quart of water).
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• Keep freezer at 0 degrees F (-17 degrees C).
• Do not crowd the items in your freezer. The freezer operates more efficiently when it is about 2/3 full.
• When freezing, cool foods quickly by placing in a large pan or sink filled with ice water, then divide into smaller
portions that will freeze quickly.
• Use freezer paper, freezer bags, aluminum foil or other moisture proof, airtight containers. Remove as much air
from the bag or container as possible. If freezing liquids, allow a little extra room for expansion.
• Label leftovers with information such as contents, a "use by date", reheating instructions and the number of
servings.
• Leftovers should not be left at room temperature for 2 hours or longer before freezing.
• If making "do-ahead" dishes that will be baked, frozen and then reheated for a later time: Slightly seasoning just
before
• Add crumb and cheese toppings to frozen foods just before reheating.