How Long Does Summer Sausage Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 1 Month

Summer sausage is a term used for any sausage that can be kept without refrigeration until opened. In the past, one would consume these sausages in the summer months. Hence, the sausage was named a summer sausage.

Summer sausages contain a mixture of pork, beef or venison meat that has been fermented, cured, dried or smoked. Summer sausages are also easy to store as they require little or no refrigeration. In general, a summer sausage can last for at least a month without refrigeration.  

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How Long Does Summer Sausage Last?

Sausage storage conditionTime
Unopened, room temperature1 month
Unopened, refrigerator6 month
Opened, room temperature1-4 days
Opened, refrigerator1 month

The shelf life of a summer sausage depends on its storage conditions. One must store unopened summer sausage in a cool, dry area. Properly stored meat will last for about one month at room temperature. Unopened summer sausages stored in a refrigerator will last over six months. 

However, once opened, the shelf life of the sausage drastically reduces. Once the casting is cut open, the meat becomes exposed to air and any bacteria in it. Therefore, it will go much faster. Unrefrigerated, a summer sausage will last 1 to 4 days. A refrigerated and opened summer sausage will last for up to a month. 

Slices of summer sausages go bad even faster as a high surface area is exposed. Hence, one should eat them the same day. 

Cooked summer sausages do not last long, as accumulated moisture significantly reduces their life span. At room temperature, cooked sausages are only good for a few hours. To keep these sausages edible for a week, one must store them in a refrigerator. 

Finally, the shelf life also depends on the type of summer sausage. For example, one must consume dethawed summer sausages immediately as they do not last in the freezer, while semi-dry sausages last for 1 to 2 months in the refrigerator. 

Preservation techniques also decide the shelf lives of the sausages. Some brands that do not use Lacto fermentation will spoil faster. Similarly, brands that use preservatives will last indefinitely in the fridge.

Why Does Summer Sausage Last For So Long?

Summer sausages can last for a month without refrigeration due to the different preservation methods used. These sausages may be fermented, cured with salt, dried or smoked. 

Curing with salt is one of the most common methods used. Sodium and Not only do these additives preserve the red colour of meat, but they also inhibit the growth of clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism food poisoning. Additionally, these salts give the sausage its distinctive flavour. 

However, nitrates and nitrites generate carcinogenic nitrosamines at high temperatures. Hence, sodium erythorbate or ascorbate to cure meats. Other additives include alkaline phosphates, which increase its water holding capacity.

Fermentation of sausages is an ancient preservation technique used in the meat industry. It involves the addition of certain harmless bacteria to the meat, which produce acid as they grow. This process lowers the pH of the sausage, inhibiting the growth of many pathogenic microbes, hence prolonging the life span of the meat. 

Fermentation gives the sausages a distinct tangy taste that one can replicate with citric acid as a shortcut to keeping cultures to ferment the following batch. 

Drying is another method of meat preservation. It removes moisture, preventing the growth of microorganisms. Dry sausages are most capable of being stored at room temperature. Smoking the meat also decreases its moisture content. In addition to inhibiting microbial growth, smoking adds a rich flavour to the sausage. 


Unopened Summer sausages will last for up to a month at room temperature. However, once opened, one must consume them immediately as they spoil after a couple of days outside. However, one may prolong the shelf life of the sausages by storing them in the refrigerator. 

Due to its nature, summer sausages are excellent to take on camping trips. One can grill them over a campfire to make a delicious meal that is sure to be loved by everyone. 



Last Updated : 23 February, 2024

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