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Mar 17, 2005 04:19 PM

How long is it safe to marinate meat?

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I bought some lamb for stewing on Sunday. Immediately put it in a marinade (90% wine). It's been in the fridge ever since (about 96 hours). Is it safe to cook tonight?

I would be hesitant to cook meat left in the fridge that long ... but since it's sitting in an alcoholic liquid, maybe the bacteria haven't gotten to it ... anyway, if it's safe, it's bound to be good stew, what with the extra-long marinade.



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  1. Red meats do fine, though the texture of the outermost layer of flesh might get a tad mushy and bitter if you did not cook the wine and cool it before adding it to a marinade (kitchen hint for the future: the best wine-based marinades are cooked, not raw -- Madeleine Kamman is right to insist on this technique principle). Sauerbraten is often marinated for a week or more before cooking, e.g., and there are many other examples.

    Just make sure the meat was in the part of the fridge that was properly cold (should be below 40F).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Karl S.

      Sweet. I marinate my meat right next to the eggs -- all the way in the back -- so I'm good to go.

      Thanks for the tip about cooking the wine -- I'll definitely try that next time.

      I usually sear all of my meat prior to stewing, so maybe the mushy/bitter outermost layer won't be such a problem? OR maybe it won't brown as well? I guess I'll find out tonight!

      Thanks again.


    2. You know, I've made comments along those same lines before about letting meat sit in the fridge for too long.

      Then, one day, I realized that there are still families who go out and buy a week's worth of meat at a time...

      So what seems like a long time to you and me, is in fact par for the course in many of the households in the country!

      1. A lot depends on the cut of meat...tough meat can marinate longer. Beef tenderloin might get a bit mushy if marinated over 2 days...round is OK for a week (sauerbraten, etc). Size also should be considered...a beef skirt doesn't take very long to tenderize.

        1. I marinate butterflied leg of lamb in in pomegranate juice, olive oil, juice of 2 lemons, fresh rosemary, sliced onions, garlic and assorted spices FOR 3 DAYS grill it over real charcoal, and it is wonderful.