If you stocked up on beef broth, anticipating a lot more stew or pot roast over the winter than your family actually ate, you may be looking at what’s leftover and wondering, does beef broth go bad?
Unopened and unharmed, a store-bought can of beef broth should be safe to consume for up to 3 years. Once opened, you will want to refrigerate beef broth and use it within 5 days. You can freeze leftover beef broth for up to 3 months, but it will stay safe to eat indefinitely. Homemade beef broth should keep in the fridge for about 4 days and can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
The best-by date is an indicator of when the brand can no longer promise the same quality of the broth. Though cans of beef broth can be safe to eat for a long time, it will lose quality of flavor over time.
Does Beef Broth Go Bad? How Long Does Beef Broth Last?
Fresh beef broth makes for rich, hearty soups and stews, and can add meaty flavor to rice and pasta dishes. If you store it properly, store-bought beef broth can last a long time until it is opened.
How Long Does Beef Broth Last on the Shelf?
Some say commercial beef broth is shelf-stable for 3-5 years, or until it is opened. If the package is in any way bloating, leaking, or harmed, discard it quickly. This is an indication of bacterial contamination that resulted in a buildup of gas.
Beef broth is loaded with nutrients that make it a favorable breeding ground for microbes. Any exposure to the air will allow these microbes to grow and take over, causing food-borne illness.
Bacteria in beef broth can multiply and grow rapidly at room temperature. It is advised to never leave beef broth open and exposed to air at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
How Long Does Beef Broth Last in the Fridge?
Homemade beef broth will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. Since it lacks any preservatives, but contains more nutrients, it cannot be expected to stay fresh as long as commercial beef broth.
If you only used part of a can of beef broth, transfer the rest to an airtight container, like a jar. It will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days. After a week, it is safe to throw it away without any guilt, it has likely spoiled.
There is no sense in storing unopened commercial beef broth in the fridge. It will not extend the shelf life of the product. Unopened beef broth keeps at room temperature for years.
How Long Does Beef Broth Last in the Freezer?
It is recommended to freeze beef broth if you made it at home or have leftovers of a store-bought broth. The freezing temperatures slow the growth of microbes and bacteria to near-stop, and prolong the life of your broth for months.
You can expect homemade beef broth to last in the freezer for about 3 months. After which, it may be safer to throw it out and make a new batch than try to continue using it.
Store-bought beef broth can technically stay frozen indefinitely, but will lose quality over time. It is best to consume it within 3 months, but may also stay tasty for up to 6 months.
Beef broth is a nutritious product of simmering beef bones and vegetables, which means it is full of potential for bacteria and microbes. You can be certain it will spoil, especially if stored improperly.
How To Tell If Beef Broth Has Gone Bad / How To Know Beef Broth is Fresh
Because beef broth is a perishable food, it will eventually spoil on you. It is helpful to know what signs of spoilage you should be looking out for before you waste time trying to cook with it.
When it is fresh, beef broth should look and smell pleasant and comforting. It has a rich, meaty fragrance to it, and will be medium to dark brown in color.
Look for any changes in the smell or color. As it goes bad, beef broth will take on a sour or rancid odor you may not notice until you begin to heat it. Beef broth may not be exactly translucent, but it should not be cloudy. Homemade broth will contain more sediment naturally, so just keep an eye on how it changes over time.
Anything wrong with the package should never be ignored. If the can has dents in it, the box is bloated, or there is beef broth leaking all over your pantry, the container should be discarded without any hesitation. Rust, bulging, dents, and leaks are signs that the broth was contaminated at some point, and is likely already spoiled.
Mold may be growing on the surface of the liquid. It appears as greenish-blue, white, or black spots on the surface of broth, and it is harmful to your health to consume.
How to Store Beef Broth?
Proper storage is imperative for keeping beef broth fresh for as long as you need it. If you are a meal-prepper, or you just have some leftover broth from the box you just opened, you probably want to know the best way to store your beef broth.
Unopened cans, boxes, or jars of commercially made broth can be stored in a cool, dry place. A pantry, cupboard, or cabinet works perfectly, as long as it is not exposed to direct sunlight or excessive heat.
Opened commercial broth needs to be refrigerated. If you only used half a can of broth, you should transfer the leftovers into an airtight container, and keep it in the fridge.
Homemade broth can be stored in the fridge or freezer. Allow it to cool completely, and you can pour it into an airtight container to store, like a jar.
Can You Freeze Beef Broth? How?
Freezing beef broth is a smart way to extend its shelf life, especially if you have made the broth at home. There are multiple methods, and a few tips, to get the most out of your frozen broth.
Allow homemade broth to cool completely. If you intend to remove the fat, it is recommended to store the broth in the fridge until the fat becomes solid on the top. It is easy to remove this way, and then you can transfer the broth to your container of choice for freezing.
Leave room for expansion. If you are freezing your broth in jars or bags, make sure to leave enough space for the liquid to expand. This includes being careful to wipe any spilled drops from around the seal.
Separate in ice cube trays or silicon molds. Because it is not recommended to refreeze beef broth, it is wise to freeze it in portions. Once frozen, keep all the cubes in a freezer-safe bag or container, and you can extract only what you need, when you need it.
How to Thaw Beef Broth?
Depending on what your purpose is for your frozen beef broth, there are a few ways to thaw it out and use it. You can warm it up if you drink it, or simply drop some into a pot and start cooking with rice or beans, for example.
Hot water bath. If you have frozen your broth in jars, you can submerge the jar in a bath of hot water on the stove or in the sink, and let it become liquid again.
Overnight in the fridge. If you have frozen your broth in a freezer-safe plastic bag, it may be wisest to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.
Frequently Asked Questions About Beef Broth’s Shelf Life
If it looks and smells right, is it okay to eat? Usually, if beef broth looks and smells okay, and it has not been obviously contaminated by anything, it is probably still safe to consume. Since the shelf life of beef broth can depend on a variety of factors, dates and times are all estimated and subject to personal experience. If you begin to cook with it and the odor or texture becomes unpleasant, do not risk your digestive health.
Is the expiration date on the package accurate? Most brands will print a best-by or sell-by date to estimate how long their product will remain at peak quality. This date is not intended to mean that the broth is unsafe to eat after that certain date, but that the broth may not taste as good as you should be able to expect.
Beef broth is surprisingly nutritious, and many people consume it to boost their immunity in the winter. If you are going to utilize all of the broth’s benefits, you should be aware of how long you can expect it to stay fresh and delicious.