In today’s world, sous vide cooking is becoming increasingly popular because of its many benefits. However, not everybody is familiar with this technique.
If you’re thinking about cooking sous vide meat but are unsure how long you can keep it in the fridge or freezer, keep reading. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about sous vide meat storage.
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How Long Will Sous Vide Meat Keep?
Before we dive in, let’s first clarify how sous vide cooking works.
This cooking method is also known as low-temperature, long-time (LTLT) cooking. Sous vide means ‘under vacuum’ in French, implying that food is kept sealed, with all the air removed.
When using this method, you place food in plastic sous vide bags or glass jars, and you cook it in water for an extended period, usually up to seven hours. In some cases, cooking can last up to 72 hours!
One advantage of this method is cooking in batches, so many people decide to go for it.
The trick lies in the precisely regulated temperature, much lower than those you usually use for cooking. So, for example, if you want to cook red meat, you should do it at about 130-140° F (55 to 60° C), and if you’re going to cook poultry, you should do it at 150-160°F (66-71°C).
This may seem illogical as those temperatures may sound extremely low and unsafe. Naturally, many people wonder how long you can keep sous vide meat.
You can find different answers to this question across the internet. But one thing is sure – it can be kept safely in its sous vide bag for 48 hours if properly cooked and quick-chilled.
But what does that mean? If you cook your meat sous vide and want to store it, it is recommended to quickly bring down the temperature to below 41° F (4° C).
Here’s how it’s done:
- Prepare a half ice/half water bath in a container large enough to hold the sous vide bags of food you want to chill.
- Fully submerge sous vide bags in the ice water.
- Leave the sous vide bags for at least 30 minutes, or up to two hours, depending on the food quantity.
- Ensure that the temperature is below 41° F (4° C) throughout the whole process – add more ice if needed.
- After this, dry the sous vide bags, label them and store them in your fridge or freezer.
If you don’t follow these steps and put warm sous vide bags in the fridge, they will not cool down quick enough, meaning the meat will go bad much faster.
After the first 48 hours in the fridge, it depends on the type of meat and how it was cooked.
Meat cooked for more than six hours at 140° F (60° C) can be kept in closed sous vide bags in the fridge for seven to ten days before it has to be consumed.
If you’ve opened the sous vide bags, the meat will have the same shelf life as conventionally cooked meat.
Keeping the meat safe for up to 10 days is one of the most significant advantages of sous vide cooking.
This is highly beneficial for restaurants, hospitals, the catering industry, and many other businesses.
In addition, since it’s possible to simply reheat the previously sous vide cooked meat, this saves valuable time for many people.
How Long Can You Keep Sous Vide Meat in the Freezer?
Meat cooked in zipper bags can be kept for two to three months, except for poultry, which can be kept for up to six months in zipper bags.
However, in vacuum-sealed bags, you can keep your meat in the freezer for up to one year.
Benefits of Cooking Meat Sous Vide
If you’re still unsure about cooking meat sous vide, I’ve listed some benefits of this method to help you decide.
It’s a Time-Saver
You put meat in the bags, set the temperature, drop in the water bath, and you’re done. You don’t have to stand over the stove checking if the meat is undercooked or burnt.
Cooking sous vide takes a bit more time, but you will have your meals prepared for the whole week, and you can prepare food for a large number of people quickly.
Cooking meat sous vide means that all the juices and aroma will be retained. Also, food will be evenly cooked.
You are in control of all of the ingredients and the portions.
Sous vide cooking can save money. For example, when portioning your food in sous vide bags, you ensure no extra food could go bad.
Concerns Related to Sous Vide Cooking
The main reason why many people are skeptical about sous vide cooking is safety.
Cooking in plastic sous vide bags at low temperatures for extended periods raises significant concerns for many – but no need to worry. Sous vide cooking in plastic bags is entirely safe due to the low temperatures used.
In addition, the plastic used for this purpose doesn’t contain additives like BPA and phthalate, which can be harmful when in contact with food.
Cooking at low temperatures can be seen as unsafe due to the temperature “danger zone.”
Food held in this zone for more than two hours can develop harmful bacteria and therefore be unsafe. That’s why temperature control is crucial when sous vide cooking. If the temperature is measured and controlled correctly, the food prepared will be completely safe.
Now you have learned how long you can keep sous vide meat in your fridge and freezer. Plus, you’ve also learned more about the technique itself, its benefits, and potential hazards.
Due to the numerous advantages, including the extended shelf life, many people are using this cooking method.
Armed with the information above, you can be sure your meat will be safe to eat longer than if traditionally cooked – as long as you follow the instructions.