Meat is expensive. In order to protect that investment, it is important to pay attention when freezing meat. You want to make sure it doesn’t go bad in the process. It is best to cut the meat into individual portions before freezing because the meat could spoil if it has to be thawed and reheated numerous times. Once the meat is cut, it should be chilled, covered, to about 40 degrees, and over-wrapped with a thick plastic wrap before being put into an airtight container.
It is important to keep meat chilled to at least 40 degrees. This will help maintain the safe temperature of the meat so no bacteria can grow. Once you get home from the store, immediately put the meat away. Double check the temperature in your refrigerator to ensure it is between 35 and 40 degrees and that your freezer is at zero degrees or a little below. Having your freezer set to the proper temperature, between 0 and –10 degrees Fahrenheit, will help the meat freeze faster, develop smaller ice crystals and prevent freezer burn as much as possible.
Large Amounts of Meat
If you plan on storing large amounts of meat, break them down into smaller portion sizes before freezing because this will make thawing easier for individual servings. Keep the meat in the original packaging, if possible, and make sure there are no holes or perforations in the packaging. Most typical meats can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days at the proper temperature. If you are not planning to use the meat before this time, consider freezing and then thawing. If you do not plan on using the meat within two months, over-wrap the meat with a heavy-duty plastic wrap or put it into an acceptable freezer bag.
We have already gone over how freezer burn occurs, so it is important to get the meat as cold as possible, as quickly as possible. While the normal freezer should be set around 0 degrees Fahrenheit for storing food, you should turn your freezer down to about –10 degrees Fahrenheit the day before so that the freezer has time to prepare for the unfrozen food that is about to be added.
Once the meat is frozen, you should store it on the bottom of the freezer. As the cold air radiates from the other food in the freezer, it will help to keep the meat frozen and keep the strain off of the freezer. It is important to remember once meat is frozen, it should not be thawed and re-frozen again. This will lead to serious oxidation and freezer burn.
In order to keep your meat as fresh as possible, it is important to set your freezer to the proper temperature so that it freezes quickly, the meat is cut up and initially frozen into individual portions, then once frozen, the meat is not thawed and re-frozen. Follow these simple tips and your meat will stay fresh for as long as possible.
Photo credit: jrubinic
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