Spoiled lamb has obvious signs that you can't miss; what's more difficult to detect is lamb that is past its prime on the way to spoiled. You'll lose both money and a delectable meal if you let the meat go bad.
Raised primarily by family-owned ranchers, according to the American Lamb Board, most lambs in the U.S. eat natural grasses and plants for most of their lives, causing the price for lamb to be higher, on average, than beef or poultry. In 2012, the board reported that high retail prices for lamb caused most Americans to buy less lamb in 2012 than they had in prior years. Follow safe practices to protect your investment.
Follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations for cooking lamb:
- Cook ground lamb until it reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read meat thermometer.
- Cook chops and roasts
to 145 F and let the meat rest 3 to 10 minutes.
The longer your lamb sits in your refrigerator, the more likely it is to spoil because any harmful bacteria that are present can multiply to unsafe levels even when you don't see noticeable signs. Use the meat as soon as possible after getting it home, and adhere to its average storage life:
- Follow the "use-by" date on your package of lamb.
- Ground lamb and lamb chunks for stew or curry stay fresh for 2 days.
- Lamb chops or roasts stay fresh for 3 to 5 days.
- Wrapped tightly in freezer-grade plastic, lamb retains its quality in the freezer for 3 to 4 months.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that you buy the freshest looking lamb at the store to head off spoilage. Look for lamb with firm flesh and fat that is very white and firm instead of yellowing and soft.
Obvious Signs of Spoilage
If you see noticeable signs of spoilage, you should throw away all the meat, because the bacteria have probably also spread throughout the piece. Look for:
- A rancid or odd odor;
- A sticky texture on the surface of the meat when you touch it with your fingertips; and
- A slimy film over the surface.
When in doubt, throw it out. If you notice any of the obvious signs of spoilage, it's better to err on the side of safety rather than risk getting sick from harmful bacteria.
Lamb Serving Suggestions
- Seasonings that pair well with lamb include garlic, lemon, mint, mustard, rosemary and thyme. Use these ingredients to marinate lamb orin a sauce to pour over the lamb.
- Side dishes for lamb might contain the seasonings that work well with lamb or other ingredients such as carrots, fennel, fava or white beans, onions, potatoes, spinach or tomatoes.