Have some turkey leftovers from thanksgiving?
Or maybe some deli meat you couldn’t finish at lunch.
The sell-by date for fresh meat is important to note, but what about after you’ve cooked it?
Or opened a package of lunch meats?
Much like any other food, lunch meats including turkey should not sit in the fridge for long.
So let us clarify how long your leftover turkey should sit in your refrigerator.
Because otherwise, you could acquire a foodborne illness.
Which would make this comfort food uncomfortable!
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Storing Cooked Turkey Meat
Before answering this question we need to understand some key parameters.
Did you buy it raw and cook it?
Has it been cured and has a high moisture content?
Was it cooked and prepackaged lunch meat when you bought it?
Turkey is a delicious type of meat and one of my favorite foods.
So I’m used to keeping it stored.
That is if it lasts that long!
Keep on reading to understand how long sliced turkey lasts in the fridge.
Did You Cook a Fresh or Frozen Turkey & Have Leftovers?
The first thing you should ask is whether or not you have cooked the turkey yourself.
This is because it hasn’t been cured in some way to extend the use by date.
Plus you have exposed it to intense heat and then it has cooled down in quick succession.
Not to mention the environment of your home will not be as sterile as a manufacturer of turkey deli meat.
Cooked cuts of sliced dark or white meat from a cooked frozen or fresh turkey will last in the fridge.
But It should be stored for no more than a couple of days at 40°F or less.
This is easy as the average refridgerator is set to 40°F.
It is the point of the meat cooling where all the nasty bacteria grow and creates spoiled food.
Store the cooked turkey in an airtight container in a designated section like a meat drawer.
Within your fridge!
Note: There is no difference between dark meat and white meat. It should be stored the same to avoid foodborne illness.smoke
What Temperature Should I Cook Turkey?
The ideal temperature to cook a roasted turkey is 250°F.
What Internal Temperature Should the Meat Be Before Consuming?
The safe internal temperature to eat turkey meat is 180°F.
If you have leftovers then wait until they have cooled down, slice them, and put them into the fridge.
As per the instructions above.
Note: There is no difference between dark meat and white meat. It should be stored the same to avoid illness.
Storing Packaged Turkey Meat
Turkey is one of the more popular deli meat types.
It is widely available cooked and deli meat is prepackaged.
Brought packaged sliced cold cuts that are cooked or cured?
Always check the label.
The use-by date will indicate how long it can be stored.
An unopened package is typically a couple of weeks.
If you refrigerate at 40°F unopened and in the original packaging to this date it will be fine.
Note: Packaged deli meat contains a higher water content than fresh raw turkey.
As it is usually processed!
Storing Fresh Deli Meat
Fresh deli turkey meat from the counter should be refrigerated at 40°F for no more than 5 days.
If you received it in a loose paper bag then wrap it properly or store it as per the instructions below.
Can I Freeze My Sliced Turkey?
Sliced turkey makes great sandwich meat.
But what if you want to keep it for longer than 2-3 days?
You can extend the shelf life by storing it in your freezer.
Put the meat in air-tight bags and store it for a couple of months in the freezer.
When you fancy that perfect lunch, thaw it in the fridge overnight.
Note: Always store your meat in a freezer bag or vacuum seal as it will prevent freezer burn.
Store & Wrap Your Turkey Correctly
Wrapping your slice turkey properly is key as it stops airborne bacteria.
While also preventing any extra moisture.
– Always store them in the original package until you use them.
– Follow the instructions above.
– Use a sterile air-sealed container or plastic wrap.
– It is best to use a vacuum sealer if you have one.
Keeping the Turkey Meat at a Safe & Constant Temperature
Remember to store your sliced turkey meat at a constant temperature in the fridge.
Cooked meat should be left no longer than 2 hours at room temp.
Throw It Away to Avoid Food Poisoning If…
Bacterial growth will present itself in multiple ways.
– It is way past the use-by date on the packaging.
– It looks and has a slimy touch.
– It smells bad.
– It has discolored in any way.
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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