Safe length of storage time

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nuynai
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Safe length of storage time

Post by nuynai » Sat Sep 17, 2016 15:24

Hello everyone. The question I have is, if there is any general rule of time items made with Cure #1 will be safe to eat when vac sealed and refrigerated properly. I usually make items in larger batches for convenience and than vac seal them to individual portions. Thanks in advance.
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Butterbean
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Post by Butterbean » Sat Sep 17, 2016 16:35

Good question. I don't know but I think the shelf life in the fridge of a cured cooked vac-sealed meat product might surprise you.

I gave a friend a nonfermented summer sausage that was vac sealed for Christmas. He stuck it in his refrigerator and forgot about it till May. He ate it with no consequence.

Don't think I'd have been that brave but he did it with no ill effects. Can't think of any reason it might be lethal but if everything was done right and the product wasn't contaminated just prior to bagging then sterile in would mean sterile out. So as long as there is no slime or foul odor it should be alright I would think.

Personally, I'm more prone to freeze stuff like this if it will not be eaten for a long time.
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Bob K
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Post by Bob K » Sat Sep 17, 2016 16:50

It really depends on the product.

FDA sausage guidelines:
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsi ... y/ct_index

Scroll to bottom for chart

Ham:
https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/ ... chart.html

Personally, dry cured is vac sealed and refrigerated until consumed. Anything else, eat within a week or freeze.
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Post by nuynai » Sat Sep 17, 2016 19:36

Butterbean, any problems with freezer burn and if so, which products did it occur in.
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Post by Butterbean » Sun Sep 18, 2016 01:19

As long as I get a good seal on a vacuum bag its never been a problem. I think freezer burn is really dehydration and oxidation from air getting to the product.

I will say that I can tell the difference between a summer sausage that has been frozen and one that has not. Not from taste but more from texture. I've never had anyone complain but I know it is better when fresh and not frozen. On smaller sausages like kielbasa I don't seem to notice it for some reason but emulsified sausages like franks I do. Not saying they taste bad its just a different mouth feel to me.

Though I'm in no position to argue with the USDA and their guidelines I do think they are about as stringent as can be and they take into consideration every possibility no matter how slim the chance. Take their suggestion on the luncheon meat. If my family followed their guideline we'd never eat sandwiches in our home.

I think they have to cover every base and are maybe too extreme in their suggestions and what exactly are they saying. Best by? I don't think they are actually saying its going to rot on you or make you sick because if you've completed all your food safety hurdles and the food isn't contaminated between your finishing the process and your bagging it then the only thing that could come into play would be spoilage bacteria and your nose or feel should pick this up easy enough.

I think you would be safe enough if you just use common sense and that will go a long way. That's how I do it and its served me well so far. If you find yourself uncomfortable doing this but still want to push things in your home create an elimination chart of the pathogens based on your process. Its really good to do this anyway because it helps keep your mind on potential flaws in your process. Marianski does a good job outlining the primary pathogens in his book and you can see how each is addressed and eliminated. (hope that makes sense)
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Post by Bubba » Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:47

Interesting topic because a long time ago I had to dig around for some information as well.

The link to foodsafety.gov is very informative.

Here at my end I vacpack and freeze within a week of curing and smoking, and after defrosting and opening I make sure it is consumed within 3 days. This would be well within the recommended time frames, but I always work on rather safe than sorry.
I rarely vacpack and just refrigerate unless I know it will be consumed within a few days.
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Post by Butterbean » Sun Sep 18, 2016 16:53

Just talked to a friend who runs a deli and asked how she handled this. In the store she said she is bound by these rules and might get a 10 lb chub of sandwich meat in. The expiration date of the chub will be 2 months out. So if she doesn't open it she can keep it refrigerated for 2 months. However, if she opens the vac seal she has only 7 days to sell it and after this time she has to throw it away because it cannot be sold to the public.

At home, she will keep this "expired" meat in her fridge and use it without any problem and will only toss if it begins to look or feel like its beginning to spoil. Spoilage bacteria is different than the real baddies your hurdles have eliminated.

To me, this poses another question. Would it not be reasonable - in the home - that if you cut the bag open and removed a portion of the meat then re-sealed the bag would it not be good for the full two months?
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Post by nuynai » Sun Sep 18, 2016 18:34

IMHO- keeping the product as cold as possible when removing a amount would enhance it's length without spoilage.
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Post by Butterbean » Sun Sep 18, 2016 19:24

nuynai wrote:IMHO- keeping the product as cold as possible when removing a amount would enhance it's length without spoilage.
I agree. Raising things one degree can make a world of difference with bacterial growth.

I don't in any way mean to sound like I'm arguing with what the USDA says because I''m not. I'm just trying to put things in perspective. They have a hard job and are charged with protecting everyone from food born illness so they have to be extremely cautious and err on the side of safety. That said, they have been known to err pretty far into the safe zone at times. Take water activity. If a product is microbially sterile at one point lowering the water activity another two points doesn't make the pathogens any more dead.
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Post by Butterbean » Tue Sep 20, 2016 03:44

Sorry. Couldn't help myself.

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