Raw or cooked, steak requires proper storage to make sure it's safe to eat. Small amounts of bacteria are naturally found on meat acquired from livestock, and this bacteria can grow to dangerous levels in temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Stored in the chilly 0-degree Fahrenheit temperatures of the freezer, steak is safe to eat indefinitely. After a certain amount of time, however, it may not taste as good as fresh.
What Freezing Doesn't Do
It is a common misconception that freezing kills bacteria on food. Any bacteria naturally present on the meat are rendered inactive in temperatures of 0 degrees Fahrenheit and below, such as in your freezer. When the meat is defrosted, however, the bacteria once again begin to multiply. If you are unsure of your freezer’s temperature, set a standalone thermometer on one of the shelves inside and measure it.
Good for About a Year
Wrapped in freezer wrap, aluminum foil, plastic wrap or freezer bags, and stored at freezing temperatures of 0 F and below, raw steaks keep for six to 12 months in storage. This is not to say that the steaks are not safe to eat after 12 months. After about a year, frozen steaks begin to deteriorate, and this deterioration affects taste and texture. Including steak that has been frozen for more than a year in a recipe may produce an undesirable result.
Cooked, Then Frozen
Leftover cooked steak from your latest dinner party keeps for a shorter time than steak that is frozen while it is raw. Even wrapped properly and stored at ideal freezing conditions, cooked steak has a shelf-life of two to six months in freezer storage. While the cooked steak is still safe to eat after thawing, after six months, it may not have the same taste and texture that it did prior to freezing.
Thoughts on Thawing
Thawing meat at room temperature is not recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, because the practice poses a health risk. Instead, the USDA suggests thawing in the refrigerator. Transfer the steak from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before cooking to ensure thorough thawing. Microwave thawing and cold-water thawing in a large bowl -- changing the water every 30 minutes -- is also safe, provided that you cook the steaks immediately after thawing.
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