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How Long Do Cold Cuts Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 1-2 Months In Freezer

Many different factors affect the shelf life of the food. The most crucial factor is how fresh the meat was when stored. If it’s been sitting in the fridge since Christmas, that might not be great for its quality anymore. 

Overall, many factors determine how long one’s cold cuts will last. Although it is tempting to store meat in the fridge, it is essential to make sure it can last long.

How Long Do Cold Cuts Last?

TypeDuration
Opened Package5 days in the fridge
Unopened Package2 weeks in the fridge

It all depends on the type of cold cuts. In general, refrigerated varieties will last a week or more. Unrefrigerated spices will last about a week after the date stamped on the package.

Cold cuts typically have a shelf life of 2-5 days under refrigeration. Please keep them in their original wrappers and store them in the coldest part of the refrigerator, preferably on a lower or bottom shelf, to avoid warmer air from the entryway. An unopened package may last for 2 weeks in the fridge.

Beware that deli meat, even if it’s cut in the case, will spoil quickly. That’s not to mention when sandwiches are put together with ingredients like mayonnaise, which also has a level of acidity that makes the meat more susceptible to spoiling.

Keep deli meats in airtight Tupperware containers or fridges when not consumed. Place cooked deli meats into an oven-safe dish and refrigerate immediately after cooking. Store it in the coldest refrigerator section or discard any remaining portions before the date expires.

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One can always go for the usual and store the deli meats in a sealable container in the fridge. However, if one feels adventurous and wants to up the ante on the meal prep skills.

Keep the lunch meat well-wrapped at all times, whether pre-packaged or sliced at the deli counter. It’s unlikely that pre-packaged cold cuts are resealable, but if they are, feel free to keep the leftovers in the original container.

Why Would Cold Cuts Last So Long?

The short answer is that it’s because cold cuts are highly processed. Cold cuts are made with one food, in this case, meat. 

Meat is preserved through various processes like smoking and adding sodium nitrite, the same stuff used to make jelly pink to create an outside crust of preservatives that keep the inside unharmed during the slicing process. 

When one slices into cold cuts, there may be a little bit of bubbling or smoke at any given time around the sliced flesh, which means bacteria is still alive within the strip one just cut off for themself.

There are a few reasons why cold cuts last a long time. First, a cold cut typically consists of an extended cut smoked or cured with nitrate and then sliced into thin pieces for convenience. 

Second, acidity in the meat will help keep it fresher longer as it provides some protection from bacteria growth. 

Third, the low-moisture content helps guard against spoilage and reduces shrinkage caused by water’s presence, resulting in less liquid contaminating the surrounding environment. 

Finally, purging with carbon dioxide can replace all oxygen within an individual package making it impervious to mold development or any other metabolizing bacteria that one might create.

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If one has more lunch meat than they can handle, freezing is the best way to go. There are no valid excuses for not doing it since it takes very little time. The essential component of cold cuts is to avoid freezer burn.

Conclusion

There are many types of meat available in the grocery store. Although the expiry date is different for different meats, it is essential to store the cold cuts properly. It may last for a while but do not expect it to last longer. 

All food has an expiration date, but some meats, such as chicken and ham, tend to last longer than others. It all depends on the type of meat and how one stores it.

Pepperoni or salami will stay fresher than ham or chicken because they contain less moisture. Therefore make sure to check the expiration date.

References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/food.19830271008
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s002170050426