How to store meat in the freezer
When it comes to meat, freshness is key. No one wants to eat freezer-burned or old meat. Keeping meat in sealed containers or bags helps prevent freezer burn while keeping different types of meat at maximum freshness.
To get the most out of your meat, label your plastic containers with the cut of the meat and date of purchase. Doing so will ensure that you use the meat within an appropriate amount of time and nothing goes to waste.
How long can you store meat in the freezer?
Use meat stored in the freezer within a few months—the less time it’s frozen, the better it will retain its quality and integrity. But generally speaking, you can store meat in the freezer for up to a year. Label the bag or container with the name of the meat and the date it was frozen.
For raw meat, ground meat, and stew meat, the USDA recommends using it within four months; for steak, roasts, and poultry, up to 12 months.
1) Label everything – It may seem tedious but labeling each item with the date of purchase and expiration will save you a lot of time (and money) in the long run by helping you keep track of what needs to be eaten first.
2) Only freeze meat that has been properly cleaned and cooked – this will prevent bacteria from growing and causing food poisoning. Freeze chicken breasts individually wrapped and fish in water or air tight packing.
3) Let go of meat you will not eat – Beef only holds its flavor for 4-6 months in the freezer, so if you’re not planning on eating it within that period, consider giving it away to someone who will appreciate it more.
4) Never refreeze thawed meat – once meat has been thawed, bacteria can start to grow rapidly. If you’re not going to cook the meat immediately after thawing, throw it out.
5) Keep your freezer neat and organized – a messy freezer is more likely to harbor harmful bacteria than a clean one!
1. Plastic storage containers
Plastic storage containers provide an easy, fool-proof way to store meat in the freezer. Plastic containers are readily available in most supermarkets. They have the added benefit of being airtight, thus avoiding the dreaded freezer burn and are easily labeled.
2. Vacuum sealed bags
Vacuum sealing is an excellent way to preserve food. Vacuum sealing is an easy way to keep your food fresh and can be done with any type of food, including meat. Simply place the food you want to vacuum seal into a bag, and then use a vacuum sealer to remove all of the air. You can then store the food in the refrigerator or freezer, and it will stay fresh for much longer.
3. Tempered glass
There are other options for plastic-free storage containers, but tempered glass is one of the more popular choices because it is so versatile.
There are a few things to keep in mind when using tempered glass for freezing. First, always consult the packaging or product description to make sure the glass is freezer safe. Second, don’t fill the containers to the brim; leave a little bit of room at the top to avoid any broken glass in your freezer.
4. Silicon bags
Reusable silicone food bags are not only safer and more durable than other storage options, but they are also easier to use. You can simply pop your food into the bag, seal it shut, and then throw it in the fridge or freezer.
Have you ever found your food covered in freezer burn? It’s not a pleasant experience. You spend time and money on groceries, only to have them go bad in the freezer. Freezer burn is one of the most common problems with frozen food.
Freezer burn occurs when air reaches the surface of food and dries it out. This can happen either because the packaging is damaged, or because there are spaces in your freezer where air can circulate. When meat gets freezer burned, it creates a dry spot on the surface of the meat that looks white or grayish brown. The affected areas will be hard to touch, and they might feel slightly rubbery.
How to avoid freezer burn
- Avoid storing meat in the freezer for extended periods of time
- Avoid repeatedly opening and closing the freezer door
- Cool meat in the fridge before freezing
- Set your freezer below zero degrees Fahrenheit
- Store meat in airtight storage containers or bags
Thawing frozen meat
Here’s the deal: The USDA doesn’t recommend cooking frozen meat without thawing it first because, as they explain, there is a risk of increased bacterial growth. Bacteria are present on all surfaces of raw meat and must reach a certain temperature when cooking. If the center does not cook properly, due to being partially frozen, there is a higher chance of food-borne illnesses.
Therefore, it is best to plan ahead when preparing meals that include meat. The safest way to thaw beef and other meat is in the refrigerator, where it will thaw slowly and evenly. Thawing red meat will usually take a day in the refrigerator. Other cuts, including bone-in parts may take 2 days in the fridge.
The bottom line
Freezing meat will allow you to keep your food as fresh as possible, for as long as possible. Meat can be kept frozen for up to a year and will maintain its optimal freshness within the first few months. The best way to keep meat in the freezer is to store it in an airtight bag or container at below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, to avoid freezer burn.