There are only a few things in the world that go hand in hand. One of them is the classic beef sticks and a sweet Sunday afternoon!
But how long can you keep them around? There is always a risk of the beef sticks getting stale. Moreover, eating such products can cause food poisoning, which about 48 million US citizens suffer from each year.
So, after researching, I have discovered various methods for storing these delicious beef sticks so that you can enjoy them while they are edible!
How Long Do Beef Sticks Last?
Firstly, let’s discuss in detail how long these meaty snacks last. So, there are three scenarios as follows:
Unopened beef sticks
If it’s an unused pack of beef sticks, they are safe to eat one year after their production date.
However, certain conditions, such as storage temperature, heat, and sunlight, can cause packaged meat to go bad.
A simple yet effective trick to judge the food item through your senses. The appearance of the meat pretty much answers the question, but it does not confirm if they have gone stale.
Hence, you must inspect through texture, taste, and smell. In case the best before date has passed, you may continue using it as it has not been exposed to moisture or other external factors.
Opened beef sticks
Unlike unopened beef sticks, opened packets have a much shorter consumption time. The timer really starts ticking at this stage.
This only makes sense since meat generally cannot be kept away for prolonged durations once opened and should be eaten fresh as soon as possible. The same is true for beef sticks.
If you have opened a pack of one, then the first thing to do is refrigerate them. Next, ensure that you consume these opened sticks within three days.
While beef sticks can go on longer than three days, it is best not to risk anything and complete it whenever possible.
Keeping them open and for more than this timeframe in the fridge can also cause them to not taste good in the first place. You can opt-out of this method if you do not prefer a change in taste.
Homemade beef sticks
Lastly, homemade beef sticks tend to get spoiled faster than others since they are not prepared with preservatives. Generally, they are good to eat for 1 to 2 weeks and last for about a month in the fridge.
How to Tell If Your Beef Stick Has Gone Bad?
You can try simple steps to determine its quality quickly, which are as follows:
Appearance and Texture
First of all, a perished beef stick is relatively easy to identify. You can quickly notice a moldy layer of white. However, it can be salt or fat as well.
So, how do we differentiate between them? Good question!
Stale beef sticks will be sticky or slimy when it comes to texture. A moldy layer will have a cobweb-like texture that is gray or whitish. Other molds can look fuzzy or dusty, with spots of green or white on the beef.
If any of these signs are true for you, dispose of them.
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.
However, you need to assess all aspects of the meat to confirm if they are still edible rather than throwing them out.
So, if you are unsure if the beef sticks are good, do a small taste test. Remember only to take a small chunk and no more. Generally, rancid meat will be sour or bitter. Needless to say, it will certainly not taste like before.
Some people think that identifying a funky scent is relatively easy, but in reality, it can be mild.
Author’s Note: Meat should not be consumed if it smells putrid since it clearly indicates spoilage.
What Happens If You Eat Expired Beef Sticks?
So you’ve done something that you wish you did not, eating an expired product. While this may happen to the best of us, it’s important to note that expired beef sticks aren’t healthy in the least bit.
In fact, any spoiled meat can cause diseases such as food poisoning or bacteria formation, which can make you ill once you ingest it. But of course, you won’t feel that you’re suffering from food poisoning instantly.
There are multiple symptoms that you may experience once you’ve eaten spoiled beef stick, some of which are:
- Abdominal pain
Even if you do not witness any of these symptoms, you should contact your local doctor and tell them about the situation.
We don’t want to worsen the current scenario and wait for the symptoms to show up now, do we? Get an appointment with them and have yourself tested for minor or major problems.
From there onwards, your doctor can guide you in the best way.
Can You Freeze Beef Sticks? Refrigerated vs. Shelf-Stable Beef Sticks
You may have come across the thought of not even refrigerating your beef sticks at one point. So, is it even necessary in the first place? That depends on whether you’ve opened the packet or not.
If you have opened the pack already, then there’s no option other than refrigerating. However, if you haven’t opened the packet yet, then know that it is unnecessary to keep them refrigerated inside.
You can keep them in a cool and dry place to store. Remove them whenever you want to consume them. However, I’ll tell you right now that keeping these beef stick packets at high temperatures should be strictly avoided.
This can cause them to grow mold and perish before their shell life. Beef stick packets should also not be kept besides raw beef, especially if they’re opened.
The Best Way to Store Beef Sticks
I often get asked, is refrigerating the only way to store beef sticks? The answer is no. There are other ways too, but refrigerating is undoubtedly easier. So, let’s explore the best way to preserve this yummy beef!
If you want your beef sticks to be flavourful and of the same texture, keep them in the pantry. But before you do so, please ensure it is a cool and dry space to store meat.
Wait, what does that mean? Let me explain
A cool place does not mean fridge-level ambiance. It means a space that contains room temperature ranging from 20 to 25 degrees Celsius.
Usually, all cabinets have them, but if there is direct or indirect exposure to heat and sunlight, the temperature will rise. Moreover, a dry place has less humidity, so there is no moisture build-up in the pantry.
Can I keep the beef sticks in a box in the pantry? Not quite so.
You need to place the sticks in an air-tight container or, even better, a vacuum-sealed plastic bag. Don’t have a vacuum sealer? I got your back!
Follow these DIY steps to seal your beef:
- Prepare a container and fill it with water
- Take the plastic bag and place the beef inside
- There will be a sealer at the top which will close the bag, press it and leave a tiny corner open
- Bring the bag near the container and slowly dip it inside
- The water pressure will push out the air
- Keep the opening of the bag away from water so that it does not go inside it
- Seal the bag.
Nobody wants their favorite snacks to run out quickly or get spoiled, so let’s explore a few helpful tips for storing beef sticks.
- Let the sticks sit for some time until you pack them in an air-tight container (to avoid moisture build-up)
- Keep the beef away from sunlight exposure and moisture, or it could increase the chances of spoilage.
- Store the sticks in a paper bag before placing them in containers to remove excess moisture and dehydrate it
- Freeze the beef sticks to use them after several months, but the texture will not be the same.
Why do beef sticks turn white?
If you see a weird color or coating on your beef, it could simply be salt or fat. However, certain molds are also white in appearance and can contaminate the meat.
Generally, a white string type layer or cobweb-like structure are signs that tell the beef stick has been spoiled and is no longer safe to eat.
On the other hand, white solid-shaped spots are the natural fat, and the powdery white texture is most probably salt.
How long does vacuum-sealed beef last?
A popular storage method is to vacuum seal beef to extend its shelf life. You can use them for more than 4 months if refrigerated and approximately 1 to 2 months in the pantry.
However, these are estimated based on proper storage practices. Ensure that the pantry space is cool and dry to prevent bacterial contamination. In short, it is one of the best ways to store beef sticks for longer.
In a nutshell, beef sticks are a great meaty snack, but since meat is involved, it needs to be stored properly. Unfortunately, these items do not last long after it has been opened.
This does not mean you cannot store them for an extended period. Try freezing them; by doing so, you will be able to consume them for months.
A good practice is to keep checking the smell and appearance of food products to determine if they are edible or not.