Prime rib can allow you to cook or grill some incredible dishes.
Although most end up cooking all of their prime rib in one go, you may need to wait to cook it or even have some leftovers.
If you find yourself with prime rib in the fridge, you may wonder how long it can stay in there before it goes bad.
In most cases, you’d want to freeze the prime rib to make it last longer.
Here’s what you need to know about how long prime rib keeps without freezing.
How Long Can You Keep Prime Rib Without Freezing?
According to the USDA, you can keep prime rib in the fridge before you cook it for three to five days.
After five days have passed, there’s a risk of bacteria growing on the meat.
That’s because fridges don’t prevent the growth of bacteria.
It only slows the growth.
If you want prevention, you need to freeze your prime rib.
After you cook your prime rib, you can put it back in the fridge.
Cooked prime rib lasts in the fridge for three to four days.
While it can, technically, last even longer after cooking, there’s also a risk of bacteria growing on it after the four-day mark.
You’ll want to smell and test the meat before eating it if you’re taking it out of the fridge after the four-day mark.
If you have prime rib, make sure you cook it at least five days after putting it in your fridge.
Can You Cook Prime Rib After The Sell-By Date?
While shopping for prime rib, you may notice that most of the products have a sell-by date.
If you get to the store late then some of the meat leftovers may have a sell-by date that’s either that day, the next day, or even the previous day.
You may wonder if it’s worth purchasing this meat or if it’s going to spoil as soon as you open the packaging.
The good news is that you can still buy and use prime rib after the sell-by date.
Sell-by dates aren’t always required by the federal government.
However, many stores volunteer to put that information on their products as a way to keep track of the products that they need to sell immediately.
It also helps its customers make the healthiest choices.
Customers have also become so used to sell-by dates that it now seems suspicious when a store doesn’t use them.
Because of that, many stores will include a sell-by date to make their customers happy.
That said, the sell-by date isn’t necessarily the same date when the food will spoil.
It’s used more as a way for a store to keep track of their own products and ensure that they’re always offering the freshest meat and produce to their customers.
The USDA states that you can use prime rib three to five days after its sell-by date.
This gives you plenty of time to cook a good prime rib meal for your family or friends.
How Far In Advance Should You Buy Your Prime Rib?
If you have plans to host a great dinner featuring prime rib, then you probably plan to buy your food beforehand.
After all, you don’t want to plan the feast and then go to the store and find all the prime rib gone.
Having the meat in your fridge beforehand ensures that you’re able to cook the meal for the party.
That said, you may be unsure how far ahead you can buy the prime rib so that it stays fresh and healthy for your guests.
Since the USDA states that you can store prime rib in your fridge for up to five days without cooking it, you can buy the prime rib five days ahead of the time you intend to cook it.
Even if you only end up buying it four or three days ahead of the date, you should give yourself at the most five days to get your hands on a good slice of prime rib.
In fact, some culinary experts suggest buying the meat a few days ahead of the intended date that you plan on cooking it.
That’s because it allows the meat to age.
Since most prime rib comes in a packaged bag, you’re basically letting it wet-age in your fridge.
Wet-aging is a great way to make meat more tender.
According to the American Meat Science Association, wet-aging makes the meat more tender because of how proteins break down over time.
In particular, there are certain enzymes responsible for breaking down meat.
When the animal is alive, there are also enzymes responsible for putting the protein back together.
This is how the body builds muscle.
After slaughter, the enzymes continue to break down muscle and protein but without the building back up.
By letting it rest in your fridge for a few days, the enzymes essentially make the meat more tender.
This provides you with a better-tasting slice of prime rib that also melts in your mouth.
Can You Dry-Age Your Prime Rib To Make It Last Longer?
Yes, you can dry-age your prime rib to make it last longer in the fridge.
Meat lovers and butchers have been dry-aging meat for thousands of years.
Before modern science, people used cellars and caves to dry-age their meat.
Today, butchers can do so with a simple machine.
Steak School By Stanbroke interviewed Peter Augustus whose craft butchery business specializes in dry-aging meat.
They choose to dry-age their meat for 40 to 50 days.
Sometimes, they’ll even dry-age the meat for two months.
Clearly, this means that your prime rib can last a lot longer than five days uncooked, but the secret is knowing how to dry-age meat properly.
Drying meat requires careful control of the environment’s moisture levels, temperature, and airflow.
By keeping a low temperature, the room slows the growth of bacteria.
This ensures that the meat ages rather than rots.
By controlling the humidity of the environment, the butcher also controls how much moisture leaks out of the meat.
They’re only trying to make the meat sweat and not necessarily make it pour out all of its juice.
This further helps the meat age rather than rot.
Finally, the lack of air creates a vacuum.
This further keeps bacteria from spreading too much on the meat.
A good dry-aged prime rib will have some marbling on it.
Airflow also helps the meat form a crust on it to keep it protected from bad bacteria.
When the meat is ready, the butcher will cut the crust off and sell a tender piece of prime rib.
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Dry-Aged Prime Rib?
If you plan on buying dry-aged prime rib, you can expect a higher price tag.
The cost of a 16-ounce USDA prime dry-aged bone-in-rib steak at Lobel’s is $69.96.
If you want a 28-ounce steak, then you can expect to pay $129.95.
Obviously, dry-aged prime rib is expensive.
Since it’s so expensive, you may wonder if the benefits of eating dry-aged prime rib are worth it.
Here are a few benefits of eating dry-aged prime rib.
1. Longer Storage
One of the main benefits of getting dry-aged prime rib is that it stores longer.
If you’re planning to dry-age your own prime rib, you can have it sitting in your cellar or a dry-aging machine for a few months.
As long as the conditions remain the same, you can dry-age your meat for several months.
This enables you to store a large amount of prime rib.
When you’re ready to cook some, you can choose the oldest meat and start cooking.
However, buying dry-aged meat means that it’s already dry-aged for you.
While this might mean that it will last longer in your fridge, you should still stick with the usual three-to-five day range on cooking it.
However, if you’re dry-aging the prime rib yourself, you can store it for months without having to freeze it, cook it, or even put it in your fridge.
One of the main reasons that people like to buy and eat dry-aged meat is because of the flavor.
The process of dry-aging prime rib makes it more flavorful because of what happens to the fat.
A lot of that moisture is from the fat since fat holds more water than the lean muscle in the meat.
As the lean muscle shrinks, it ends up clinging to the fat.
Since the fat ends up becoming larger, it’s able to give the meat more flavor.
When it comes to flavoring in any kind of meat, it’s usually the fatty parts that have the most flavor.
As dry-aging continues to pull moisture from inside of the meat to its surface, the fatty flavor in the water also gets pushed through.
Instead of only finding the flavor when you bite into the fat of the prime rib, you taste that flavor throughout it.
Eating dry-aged prime rib is beneficial because it’s one of the best ways to taste the intense flavor of the meat.
A final benefit of eating dry-aged meat is the tenderness of the meat.
You may have had a tender prime rib before, but it’s nothing compared to how tender dry-aged prime rib is.
As with concentrating the flavor, the moisture process involved with dry-aging prime rib is also responsible for making it tender.
By letting the meat age safely in the air, it enables the enzymes within the meat to continue to break down proteins.
The muscle in a prime rib is a dense formation of protein.
By letting the enzymes break that formation down, the meat becomes tender.
That’s because there are fewer chains of protein to fight through when chewing it.
If the meat is dry-aged long enough, then you could end up with a very soft piece of meat in your mouth.
Eating dry-aged prime rib allows you to eat a truly tender piece of meat.
How Can You Tell If A Prime Rib Has Spoiled?
Whether you’re trying the aging process for the first time or left your prime rib in the fridge too long, you may wonder if the meat has spoiled.
Luckily, there are two easy ways to tell if your prime rib has spoiled.
The first is to check its color.
A healthy prime rib has a red coloring to it.
Prime rib that has started to spoil has a grey color to it.
The grey color is a result of exposure to oxygen.
It indicates that meat has started to rot.
The second way to tell if the prime rib has spoiled is to check its odor.
A healthy prime rib will have a bit of a meaty scent to it.
It might even smell a bit like blood or iron.
Prime rib that has spoiled will have a foul odor coming from it.
It’ll smell like it’s rotting or festering.
This means that the meat has started to decay and isn’t worth cooking or eating.
By looking for these two signs in your meat, you can determine whether your prime rib is still good to cook or eat.
Can You Freeze Prime Rib?
If you want to make your prime rib last longer, you may consider freezing it.
However, you might also worry that freezing your prime rib might impact its flavor or tenderness.
Yes, you can freeze prime rib.
Because prime rib is a pretty big chunk of meat, storing it in the freezer is the best option if you want to make the meat last as long as it can after cooking it.
One of the first things you should decide before freezing the meat is whether you want to freeze the meat together or if you want to cut it into portions first.
Cutting it into portions allows you to easily pull them out as needed for specific dishes.
If you know you want to cook one big meal, however, you don’t have to bother cutting it into portions.
To freeze your prime rib the right way, you first need to let it cool if you are freezing cooked prime rib.
If you are freezing uncooked prime rib, it should already be cool, so you can skip this step.
You can let it sit out for a bit after cooking it, but you should really let it cool down in the fridge.
Once it’s cool, usually in two hours, you can then cut the meat into portions or leave it as it is.
Then you’ll need to take plastic wrap and wrap it around each piece of meat.
If you’re freezing the entire thing together, then you can wrap the plastic wrap around the whole meat.
With the meat wrapped, you need to ensure that you get all the air out of it.
One of the best ways to do so is with an air-tight container.
You can put all the meat into the container, then simply put the container in the freezer.
You can also use a zip-lock plastic bag, but you’ll need to spend time squishing the air out of it.
Finally, you’ll want to label the meat with the date and time.
This ensures that you know how long the meat has been in the freezer.
The USDA states you can keep frozen uncooked beef indefinitely.
However, if you want the best results after thawing it, then you should use uncooked prime rib within a year of freezing it and cooked prime ribs within two to three months after cooking it.
Prime rib can last for a few days in your fridge without freezing it.
You can make prime rib last even longer if you choose to dry-age it.
If you want to make your prime rib last for a long time before or after cooking it, then you’ll want to freeze it.