meat-freezer

We tend to take our freezers very much for granted, and we tend to simply throw food items in and forget about them. We come across them a few months later when looking for something to defrost for dinner, and end up throwing the food away because we don’t know for sure how long it is safe to keep it frozen for!

This is a big waste of food and money, and when it comes to expensive cuts of meat it’s pure folly. You may be surprised to know that meat will keep perfectly well for a long amount of time.

Those handy freezer time guidelines on the internet have nothing to do with how long it’s safe to freeze meat for. They are guidelines on how long meat keeps its optimum quality for, nothing to do with food safety. Meat can be safely kept frozen until the next ice age, but it won’t taste great when your ancestors finally defrost it.

Freezing food is one of the safest ways of storing it, as the freezing process halts the growth of micro-organisms and slows down enzyme activity that leads to food spoilage.

There are a few guidelines to get the best out of freezing meats:

Always write the date on the packages of meat before you freeze them, then you don’t have to guess just how long its been in there. Freezer burn is a problem with meat. It happens when the moisture evaporates from the outer layer of the meat, leaving ‘dry pockets’ in the tissue. You can tell when your meat has been affected by the brownish-white color it has. It’s not harmful, but it doesn’t taste great.  To avoid freezer burn, it’s important to prevent exposure to air, so to store your meat for the freezer seal it tightly in a layer of plastic wrap and then a resealable plastic freezer bag with as much air removed from it as possible. Another way is to wrap meat tightly in cling wrap, then add an extra layer of aluminum foil for more protection. The best way to thaw meat is to place the whole package in the refrigerator and let it thaw gradually. Small cuts can thaw like this in around 24 hours, while larger roasting joints can take several days to be fully thawed.

How Long Different Meats Can be Frozen For

Processed meats

Bacon – 1 month Hot dogs, deli meats and sausages – 1-2 months Hamburger meat – 3-4 months

Whole cuts of meat

Steaks – 6-12 months Chops – 4-6 months Roasts – 4-12 months

Poultry

Whole chicken and turkey – 1 year Chicken and turkey pieces – 9 months

Cooked meat can be frozen for 2-6 months, except for cooked chicken nuggets, which can be kept for 1-3 months.

A well-stocked and organized freezer can be a lifesaver during those days when your meal plans get pushed aside due to lack of time or other commitments. Just make sure to thoroughly defrost the meat before you cook.