What is the average shelf life of lamb? How long does lamb last in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer? What is the best way to store lamb to increase its shelf life? Find out the answers to these questions and more below:
Shelf Life of Lamb
|Ground Lamb||1-2 Days||3-6 Months|
|Large Lamb Cuts||3-5 Days||6-8 Months|
|Variety Lab Cuts||1-2 Days||3-6 Months|
To select the best cut of lamb, watch for cuts that are/that have:
- Fine textured.
- Red in color.
- White marbling (white flecks of fat in the muscle).
- A nice fat trim that is not too thick or white.
- If the product has a “use by” or “sell by” date, it is best to observe those dates.
- The lamb should be purchased prior to the expiration “use by” date.
- Keep the meat in its original packaging until it’s time to prepare it.
- If you decide to freeze the meat and it’s going to be in the freezer for longer than 2 months, it should be overwrapped in freezer paper prior to freezing.
- All lamb should be safe in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days for small pieces and 3 to 5 days for larger pieces and 3 to 5 days any already cooked meat.
- If an item is already frozen, it can remain frozen indefinitely. However, to maintain quality and freshness, it’s best to use smaller items within 3 to 4 months and larger items within 6 to 9 months.
HOW TO HANDLE LAMB
Make your lamb selections in the meat department just prior to going to the register to checkout. Use plastic bags provided by your grocery store to put your lamb in to keep it from touching the other foods and cross contaminating them. The meat should be taken home and put away immediately.
It is always a good policy to wash your hands before and after handling raw meat. Use warm, soapy water to thoroughly wash your hands, utensils, and any surfaces that might have been contacted. This will stop the spread of bacteria.
To thaw, it’s best to use one of the three top methods: 1) in the refrigerator (for as long as it takes), 2) in cold water (in original package, sealed in leakproof container; water changed every 30 minutes to keep it cool as thawing), and 3) in the microwave.
The refrigerator method is always the best and more recommended method since the meat can be refrozen if you find you are unable to use it. With the other two methods, the meat must be cooked.
Using a food thermometer, all lamb foods, including mixtures, should be allowed to reach a temperature of 160 degrees F. The thicker cuts should be checked internally and the thermometer should reach 145 degrees F for safe eating. Allow larger cuts of meat to rest for a few minutes before cutting.