Unless you acquire your supply of meat directly from the animal itself, you purchase it refrigerated, bring it home and put it back in the cold for storage. Raw meat that stays at room temperature too long can spoil, running the risk of making you sick from exposure to multiplying bacteria. To maintain a safe kitchen and preserve the value of your food purchases, treat meat carefully, refrigerate or freeze it promptly and store it with an eye to healthful eating.
Leave chops, seafood and ground beef from the butcher shop or grocery-store meat counter in the wrappings in which you purchased them. Rewrapping them in fresh plastic or foil can introduce bacteria. You can add a new layer of wrappings outside the paper or tray in which the store sold the meat, but leave the original in place. If your refrigerator includes a built-in kitchen computer, you can track meat purchases and use-by dates right on its touchscreen interface and remind yourself to use up refrigerated meats while they remain viable.
Marinate meat inside the refrigerator. Marinades require hours to pervade meat with flavor, too long to perform this step outside the safety of chilled air. Use flexible-temperature drawers to set just the right environment for meat preservation and preparation. These features offer preset temperatures in named settings that customize drawer function on French door appliances.
Thaw frozen meats in the refrigerated compartment instead of on the kitchen counter. You'll need to allow more thawing time, but you remove the risk inherent in allowing meat to remain outside of cold storage for a long period of time. Keep these thawing conditions uppermost when you prepare holiday meals that include large pieces of frozen meat, including whole turkeys.
Store meat in the freezer if you don't plan to cook it within a couple of days. Generally speaking, raw beef, pork, poultry and seafood can stay cold but not frozen for a few days, but can keep for months, or even up to a year, in the freezer. Make use of adjustable freezer drawers to tailor extra-cold space to your meat-buying habits.
Train your eyes and nose to recognize fresh meat and distinguish it from something that's "off." The outer edges of a raw lump of ground beef may turn brown in the refrigerator in a day, but any signs of a greenish hue or a glistening iridescence signals something's amiss.
Photo Credits: Kate Van Vleck/Demand Media
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