Ground Sausage: How To Store And When To Toss It

How long a sausage lasts depends on the type of sausage you’re dealing with. In the fridge, a precooked sausage will last much longer than a raw sausage, for example. But what about ground sausage? How long will it last, and how can you tell when it’s too late to use it?

Raw ground sausage should last at least two days when stored in an air-tight container in the fridge, while cooked ground sausage can last about four days. You can also freeze ground sausage for an extended period. Signs of bad meat include a rancid smell, a slimy texture, and a grayish color.

That’s the general idea behind proper storage, but there are several factors to consider when it comes to storing meat. Let’s take a closer look at how to tell if ground sausage has gone bad, how to store it, and the best ways to use leftover ground sausage.

How Can You Tell If Ground Sausage Has Gone Bad?

Ground sausage being cooked on griddle in preparation for breakfast casserole

Like other sausage meat, it’s usually pretty clear if ground sausage has gone bad — and it’s important to check because bad sausage meat can cause an upset stomach (or worse).

The first thing you should check is the expiration date on the package. The manufacturer will display a date that you shouldn’t exceed. If there’s no expiration date or you feel the sausage has gone bad due to poor storage, there are a few other things you can assess. 

The next best thing to check is the smell. Bad ground sausage meat will have a distinct smell, similar to acid, which is rancid and off-putting. 

Next, check the ground sausage’s color. Grey meat has usually gone bad; ground sausage meat should be red or pink. Oxygen reacting with oxymyoglobin (a flesh pigment) creates the red color, giving the meat’s surface a vivid red hue. When the meat turns grey, there’s a lack of oxygen, and the meat is starting to spoil. 

Another thing to check is whether the texture has changed. Ground sausage meat should be slightly wet but not slimy. If the meat is slimy, there’s a high chance the ground sausage has gone bad. 

Ground Sausage vs. Whole Sausage: Which Lasts Longer?

Ground sausage is a delicious choice enjoyed by people across the world. It’s typically purchased raw, whereas whole sausage is sometimes purchased already cooked. 

Because ground sausage is often purchased fresh, it has a slightly shorter expiration date than a whole sausage. Consuming ground sausage within two days of being stored correctly in the fridge is advised. Ground sausage can also be stored in the freezer for a longer period.

Whole sausage, meanwhile, typically lasts up to four days, even when uncooked. 

Always check the expiration date and other factors before consuming ground sausage that has been in the fridge for a day or two to guarantee it’s safe to eat. 

How Many Days Should Ground Sausage Stay in the Fridge?

When you bring home ground sausage, it should be kept in the fridge. Refrigerating the meat will ensure it avoids bacteria and stays at the right temperature before you cook it. 

Ground sausage should stay in the fridge for up to two days. After this time, you should check to ensure it’s good to eat. 

It’s possible and often safe to consume ground sausage after two days in the fridge. However, it might not taste as fresh. Therefore, eating it sooner rather than later is recommended to enjoy its full flavor.

Should you wish to extend the longevity of the ground sausage in the fridge, you can cook it. Cooking ground sausage before storing it in the fridge can extend its longevity up to four days. 

Can You Freeze Ground Sausage?

It’s safe and common to freeze ground sausage. Those who don’t want to waste ground sausage when it expires should freeze it to extend its longevity. 

You can store ground sausage in the freezer for months. You don’t need to worry about expiry dates when freezing ground sausage.

However, you should try to consume the meat within two or three months to enjoy its freshest flavor. Leaving it in the freezer for longer than three months before defrosting and consuming it can affect the taste.

Although it might still taste fine after a few months in the freezer, it won’t be as delicious as it could be. The meat might also feel dry. 

Does Packaged Sausage Last Longer Than Opened Sausage?

Raw Sausage

As is the case with any meat, packaged sausage lasts longer than opened sausage. As soon as the packaging is opened, the sausage comes into contact with air and bacteria. 

You might notice a sausage’s packaging has a longer expiry date than two days. It might even last three weeks from the date you purchased it. However, this refers to the longevity of the sausage as long as it remains unopened in its original packaging. 

Once the packaging has been opened, the sausage lasts up to two days uncooked. 

How to Store Leftover Sausage

It’s important to know how to store your ground sausage to maximize its longevity and ensure it stays fresh for as long as possible. 

The best thing to do is to refrigerate the meat within two hours of purchasing. If ground sausage sits out at room temperature, it can begin to attain bad bacteria, making the meat unsafe to consume. 

Always Handle Meat With Clean Hands

You must always handle your meat with clean hands. So, if you plan on removing the meat from the packaging to use a portion of it, ensure to thoroughly wash your hands to free them of bacteria. 

If germs on your hands contaminate the meat, eating it may be unsafe.

Use the Coldest Part of the Fridge

Putting your ground meat in the coldest part of the fridge is advised. That way, it will stay clear of bad bacteria and stay fresher for longer. 

Any part of the fridge that’s 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below is ideal.

Use Freezable Wrap

Using freezable food wrap like this one (on Amazon) will ensure your sausage stays away from bad bacteria. That said, you only need this if you open the meat and remove it from its original packaging. 

Sealed Containers

Additionally, you can use air-tight sealed containers as these will also help prevent the meat from coming into contact with bad bacteria. 

Depending on how you store your ground sausage, you can use these containers in the fridge or freezer. 

Ways to Use Leftover Ground Sausage

Fried Italian sausage of freshly ground pork meat

There are many great ways to use leftover ground sausage. Whether you’ve already cooked it or left it raw, here are some fun and tasty ways to use it:

  • Pasta: Ground sausage meat is a tasty addition to any pasta dish. Whether using a creamy or tomato base, sausage works well with pasta. Add vegetables or extra protein, and you will have a delicious dish.
  • Fried potatoes: Sausage and potatoes make a great combination. Adding ground meat to a fried potato dish will enhance the natural saltiness of the meat and make for a fulfilling dinner.
  • Omelet: Adding ground sausage to an omelet is bound to make a tasty meal. Eat this for breakfast, lunch, or dinner with green vegetables or a salad for ultimate freshness.
  • Soup: You could add ground sausage meat to a soup for added protein and flavor. It would taste great whole instead of blending it for great texture.
  • Pizza topping: Do you like to make your own pizzas or add something fancy to a takeaway pizza? Add ground sausage meat to your pizza for extra flavor and texture. It’s a great addition to any type of pizza.
  • Risotto: An Italian favorite that’s even more delicious with ground sausage meat is risotto. Try adding your leftover ground sausage for a twist on this classic dish.
  • Casserole: Casseroles are even more tasty when you add sausage, ground or not. This is a great option if you have a lot of ground sausage left, as casserole is a great dinner that can be used for lunch or dinner the next day as well. 

What to Do if You Ate Bad Ground Sausage

Checking the ground sausage before consumption is advised to avoid an upset stomach. However, if you consumed sausage that has gone bad unintentionally, you should follow these steps:

  • Drink plenty of water: When you have an upset stomach, drinking plenty of water will flush through the bad toxins and help rid your stomach of bad bacteria. You might also lose fluids with a bad stomach; it’s important to replenish your body through hydration.
  • Rest: If you feel discomfort or pain after consuming bad sausage, it’s important to rest. You need to give your body time to heal and reset.
  • Relax: It’s essential to remain calm and relaxed if you have an upset stomach. Stress and worry can make it worse.
  • Use medication: Some medications can help relieve stomach issues after eating gone-off-ground sausage. Antacids can ease stomach discomfort, and anti-diarrhea drugs can help treat diarrhea.
  • See a doctor: Should you feel unwell or the symptoms persist after a few days of medication, rest, and water, speak to your doctor to seek further advice. 

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