Cooked meatballs can be a delicious and convenient meal option, but knowing how long they can last in the fridge is essential. Proper storage and handling can ensure that your meatballs are safe to eat and maintain quality.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that food should not be left at room temperature for more than 1 to 2 hours if the temperatures are above 32°C(90°F).
In general, cooked meatballs can last up to four days in the refrigerator when stored correctly. However, it’s important to note that the shelf life of cooked meatballs can vary depending on the type of meat used, the cooking method, and the storage conditions.
In this article, we’ll explore the best practices for storing cooked meatballs in the fridge and how to tell if they have gone bad.
Best Practices for Storing Cooked Meatballs in the Fridge
Meatballs should be stored in the refrigerator’s coldest part, typically the back of the unit or the bottom shelf. When storing cooked meatballs in the fridge, placing them in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag is best.
This will help to prevent contamination from other food items and keep the meatballs fresh for longer.
To ensure that your meatballs are safe to eat, it is essential to check for signs of spoilage. Some common indicators that meatballs have gone bad include:
- A sour or rancid smell
- Slimy or tacky texture
- Discoloration or dark spots
- Visible mold
If you come across any of the above signs, it is best to throw the meatballs away to avoid the risk of foodborne illness. Additionally, it is always good practice to label the container or bag with the date of storage, so you can track how long the meatballs have been in the fridge.
To be sure, it is good to reheat the meatballs to a temperature of 165°F before consuming them to kill any bacteria that might have grown during storage.
What is the result of leaving cooked Meatballs Out?
If cooked meatballs are left at room temperature for an extended period, they can become a seedbed for harmful bacteria like Listeria, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus aureus.
These bacteria can bring about food poisoning, which often causes vomiting, nausea, fever, and diarrhea.
To be safe, it is best to refrigerate cooked meatballs as soon as they have cooled to room temperature and to reheat them to at least 165°F (74°C) temperature before consuming.
If you are unsure whether the meatballs have been left out for too long, it is best to discard them.
How Long Can You Store Your Cooked Meatballs in The Freezer?
You can freeze cooked meatballs for up to 3 months. However, the quality of the meatballs may deteriorate after a certain point, the freezing process can cause the texture to change over time, and they may become dry or lose flavor.
Let the meatballs cool to room temperature (20°C, or 70 degrees Fahrenheit) before storing them in a resealable plastic freezer bag. Significantly, press out as much air as possible from the pack to prevent freezer burn.
Remember not to leave them out too long. According to the “2-hour’ rule by the FDA, foods that last at room temperature for two hours are prone to go bad. You want to store your food while it is as fresh as possible.
How to Properly Store Cooked Meatballs in the Fridge to Make Them Last Longer?
To properly store cooked meatballs in the refrigerator to make them last longer:
- Allow the meatballs to cool completely before placing them in a resealable plastic bag or an airtight container.
- Label the container or bag with the date it was stored.
- Make sure the meatballs are not stacked on top of each other, as this can cause the bottom layers to become compressed and spoil faster.
- Place the container or bag in the coldest part of the refrigerator, usually the back of the bottom shelf.
- Cooked meatballs should stay in the fridge for a maximum of 4 days.
- If you want to store meatballs for longer, you can freeze them. To freeze meatballs, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet in the freezer until they are frozen solid. Then, you can transfer them to an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. Frozen meatballs will last for up to 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are some frequently asked questions about how long cooked meatballs can last in the fridge.
Can I Store Cooked Meatballs in the Fridge for More Than a Week?
It is recommended to store cooked meatballs in the refrigerator for at most four days. After four days, the quality of the meatballs may start to deteriorate, and there is a risk of bacterial growth.
The longer the meatballs are stored, the higher the risk of food poisoning.
If you want to keep meatballs for longer, you can freeze them.
How Can I Tell if Cooked Meatballs Have Gone Bad in the Fridge?
Several signs cooked meatballs have gone bad in the refrigerator:
- Off odors: Cooked meatballs that have gone bad will often have a sour or rancid smell.
- Discoloration: Cooked meatballs that have gone bad will usually change color, becoming gray or brown.
- Sliminess: Cooked meatballs that have gone bad may have a slimy or tacky texture to the touch.
- Mold: Cooked meatballs that have gone bad may have visible mold growing.
- Expired date: Always check the expiration date on the package or the one you labeled when you stored it.
Is it Safe to Eat Cooked Meatballs that Have Been kept in the fridge For a Few Days?
It depends on the temperature at which the meatballs were stored in the fridge and for how long they have been there. If the meatballs were kept at or below 40°F (4°C) and have been in the refrigerator for no longer than 3 to 4 days, they should be safe to eat.
However, if they have been stored at a higher temperature or longer, they may not be safe to eat and should be discarded.
It is always best to use your best judgment and be highly cautious when consuming potentially spoiled food.
Are Cooked Meatballs Safe to Refrigerate?
Cooked meatballs are safe to refrigerate. It is recommended to refrigerate cooked meatballs as soon as they have cooled to room temperature.
To store cooked meatballs in the refrigerator, put them in an airtight pack or wrap them in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent them from drying.
When properly stored, cooked meatballs stay in the fridge for three to four days.
It is always vital to refrigerate cooked food within 2 hours of cooking to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
And make sure that the meatballs are cooled down before putting them in the refrigerator, as placing warm food can cause the temperature in the fridge to rise and spoil other foods.