Food, whether cooked or uncooked, should always be properly stored. When we prepare food a lot, it is imperative that we know how to handle and keep them so as not to incur wastage, and so that we do not unnecessarily expose ourselves and others to food-borne illnesses.
Sausage is one of the most popular party foods because it is so easy to prepare. They do not take very long to cook and they are easy to serve.
Sometimes though, you just want to get a head start and start preparing them before your guests arrive. But just how early can you prepare them for a gathering, and after that, how long can your leftover sausages sit out?
How Long Can Cooked Sausage Sit Out?
Cooked sausage can sit out no longer than 2 hours at room temperature. Less if the room is above 90°F. At temperatures between 40°F – 140°F, bacteria that cause food spoilage to thrive and proliferate rapidly. Letting your cooked sausage sit out for longer than this window puts you at risk for a food-borne illness.
How Long Can I Keep My Cooked Sausages at Room Temperature?
Cooked sausages do not last very long if not refrigerated. If left in the open, they are likely to last only a few hours before bacteria begin to act on them.
Food experts argue that the time will be shorter if the surrounding environment is hotter. That means the hotter the surrounding environment, the higher the likelihood the sausages will spoil.
According to the USDA, two hours is the maximum time frame when you can safely leave food out at room temperature.
This is because at room temperature, specifically at temperatures between 40°F – 140°F, bacteria that cause food spoilage and other illness-causing bacteria thrive. They love this warm environment and can multiply exponentially within this short time period. This temperature range is what is known as the food danger zone.
If the room is warmer, let’s say above 90°F, this window becomes even shorter at one hour.
Given this, we can say that unless you are serving your sausages within two hours of making them, it is best not to prepare them too early, or store them in the fridge until serving, so as not to risk a food-borne illness.
How Can I Preserve Cooked Sausages Longer Without Refrigeration?
Although refrigeration is one of the best techniques to preserve cooked sausages, there are other tricks you can use in its absence.
These methods may not prolong the shelf life like refrigeration, but they will at least save it for some extra hours or days. Here is what to do to preserve cooked sausages without using a refrigerator.
- Canning: Placing the sausages in a sealable container is advisable and could prolong their shelf life. However, ensure you use a clean, dry container when using the technique. Also, avoid metallic containers which may rust. Again, do not enclose the sausages in a sealable container while still hot.
- Cooling: Temperatures above 90 °F might ruin the sausages within an hour or two. However, store the properly sealed sausages in the coldest place possible to avoid this.
- Cleanliness: For any food items, hygiene is utterly essential. That’s because it prevents the growth of harmful bacteria, lowering the food spoilage rate.
Read about why summer sausages do not need to be refrigerated as long as they are still sealed.
How Can I Prepare Sausages for Refrigeration?
While preserving cooked sausages through refrigeration is an easy task, if done incautiously, it could lead to spoilage.
As such, there are guidelines or specific things one must do to ensure the safe refrigeration of cooked sausages. The preparation for refrigeration of cooked sausages entails;
- Step 1: Ensure the cooked sausages are cooled to room temperature.
- Step 2: Using a paper towel, dry off any moisture, water, or oil on the sausage.
- Step 3: Place your sausages in a sealable container. Ensure you put enough sausages in every container. Avoid squeezing or forcing them in after the container is full.
- Step 4: Seal the container air-tight. That is significant in ensuring no bacteria in the air will settle on the surface of your sausages.
- Step 5: Place the sausages in the refrigerator. You can decide to put them in the less cool part or the freezer. That depends on how long you want to keep them before you consume them.
How Can I Tell a Sausage is Spoilt?
One can spot several signs to confirm that the sausage has gone bad. If you spot at least one or all of them, discard the sausage.
Otherwise, spoilt sausages can cause food poisoning, which may lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and pain, headaches, etc. Here are signs to watch out for to know your sausage has already begun to spoil.
- Terrible Smell: If you realize your sausage has a rotten odor, it is time to throw it away. A horrible smell indicates something that has already begun to rot.
- Molds: The appearance of molds indicates the rotting process has commenced. If you see blackish, brownish, or greyish spots, they indicate that molds are forming. The best choice is to discard the sausage.
- Terrible Taste: Spoilt foods always have an awful taste that is dislikable the moment the food hits the mouth. If you notice this taste, it is time to throw away the sausage.
- Greasy texture: Spoilt sausages have a slippery casing. The condition is caused by bacteria that have settled and started to feed on the sausage surface. Thus, if the casing’s texture feels greasy, discard the sausage.
What Should I Do If I Realize I Ate a Spoilt Sausage?
How your body reacts after eating a rotten sausage will determine your next course of action. You should always remain vigilant of the symptoms and if they worsen, seek medical attention. However, here are a few things you could do after realizing you consumed a rotten sausage.
- Sip warm water to avoid vomiting.
- Avoid eating spicy, greasy, sweet, or fried foods. That’s because they could worsen your stomach upsets.
- Avoid eating solid foods if nausea or vomiting persists. Soft foods are more commendable.
- Avoid any self-medication but only seek advice from a qualified doctor.
Why Does the Casing of a Cooked Sausage Toughen If Left Unrefrigerated?
Leaving a cooked sausage in the open for some time, especially in a hot environment, drains the moisture on its surface. It’s the moisture that keeps the skin’s texture soft and likable.
When the moisture dries up, the casing is hardened, thus making it hard to chew. However, if refrigerated, the moisture changes to ice and protects the skin. With that, you can heat the sausage when it’s time to eat it, and it gets softened once more.
Frequently Asked Questions About How Long Can Cooked Sausages Sit Out?
How Long Can I Keep A Cooked Sausage Unrefrigerated?
Cooked sausage can remain suitable to eat even if unrefrigerated for about 2 hours, not more. However, if the surrounding temperatures are above 90 °F, then it could spoil within 1 hour.
How Can I Tell a Cooked Sausage Has Spoilt?
If a cooked sausage goes bad, it will have greyish, blackish, brownish, or whitish spots showing molds. It may also have a terrible smell and taste, and the texture may be greasy.
Do I Need to Refrigerate A Cooked Sausage?
It’s advisable to refrigerate a cooked sausage, especially if you hope to keep it suitable to eat for more than two hours. That slows down the rate at which bacteria feed on them.
Conclusion to How Long Can Cooked Sausages Sit Out?
Cooked sausages can only safely sit out at room temperature for two hours. If the room you will hold them in is warmer than 90°F, the window is even less at 1 hour. This is because bacteria can multiply rapidly at temperatures between 40°F – 140°F, making your sausages unsafe to eat beyond the 2-hour period.