When purchasing meat, you have three options. You can cook it right away, put it in the fridge, or store it in the freezer. If you are not planning on eating the meat right away, you can place it in the refrigerator, but it will only stay fresh for a few days.
However, if you buy meat in bulk at the grocery store, because you can get it while it is on sale, the best thing to do is put it in a freezer. Some people even purchase deep freezers for this exact reason, to have plenty of space for the extra meat they want to store.
If you plan on freezing meat, you need to know how to do it properly to ensure that your food does not get freezer burn.
You never want to freeze meat in its original packaging.
Freeze Meat in a Vacuum Sealer
When it comes to preserving fresh meat, the vacuum sealer is my preferred method. I went into depth about vacuum sealing in an earlier post: Vacuum Sealers What You Need to Know .
But vacuum sealers are an investment and I know not everyone’s budget will allow for that right now. So let’s look at the different options you can use with little cost up front.
Use Plastic Wrap
Wrap any meat that you plan on storing in a layer of plastic wrap. You should remove the meat from the package it came in before getting started. You may want to separate the meat into different portion sizes based on the types of meals you plan to make.
After separating the meat into different sections, you may then put the plastic wrap around it, sealing it closed to keep air from getting in and potentially spoiling the meat.
You can use any plastic wrap, but the press and seal kind does come in handy for food storage purposes. Tape the plastic wrap closed to keep it from coming open while it sits in the freezer until you want to use it.
Invest in Freezer Wrap
If you do not want to use plastic wrap, you can cover your meat with freezer wrap, also known as butcher’s wrap. When ordering meat from a butcher, the butcher will typically cover the meat in a thick layer of protective paper that keeps the meat covered and in the best condition for storage.
You can purchase this same type of wrap to use at home when you want to save meat for later by putting it in your freezer. It comes in a large paper roll that you can cut down to size for each pack of meat you plan on freezing.
Use Airtight Freezer Bags
Airtight freezer bags make it easier to store meats, such as chicken, ground beef, and pork chops. You can open the packages of meat, remove them from their original containers, and then carefully place them each inside an airtight freezer bag.
Before sealing the bag, suction out as much air as you possibly can, leaving the bag flat. Seal the bag with the zipper and then place it in your freezer. When you use airtight freezer bags, you can store a lot of meat at one time while saving extra space in the freezer.
Make Use of Food Storage Containers
You can store meat in food storage containers and then place those food storage containers in your freezer. Before doing so, make sure you have adequate containers with reliable airtight lids that keep the air out.
The food storage containers may take up a bit more space than some other options, but they also offer an extra layer of protection to keep the meat in good condition.
You can wrap the meat in plastic wrap and then place it into a food storage container before putting it in your freezer.
Add a Layer of Foil to Your Meat
When taking the plastic wrap or freezer wrap approach, it is always a good idea to wrap a layer of foil around the plastic wrap or freezer wrap for added protection.
The foil will keep the meat protected, block excess air from getting through the plastic wrap, and help you preserve the meat for more extended periods.
It does not matter what type of foil you choose to use when covering your meat to freeze it.
How to Safely Defrost the Frozen Meat
The best way to defrost frozen meat is to put it in your refrigerator. It will take some time to go from frozen to just cold, but that is why it is best to pull the frozen meat out of the freezer the night before you plan on using it to make a meal.
By the time you get up the next morning and check the refrigerator, it should be thawed out and ready to use. If it is still a tad bit frozen, you can remove it from the fridge and set it out on the table.
However, never leave the meat out on the kitchen table for too long. If it gets hot because it was sitting for an extended period, you would need to dispose of it.
How Long to Store the Meat in Your Freezer
When storing meat in the freezer, the length of time you should leave it in there will depend on different factors, including its sell-by date and the type of meat that you are putting in there. It will also depend if you cooked the meat before storing it.
When you have already cooked the meat, it will typically only stay good for about three to four months in the freezer before it needs to get defrosted, reheated, and consumed.
However, if you have raw meat adequately wrapped and stored in your freezer, you can keep it there for about six months at a time.
It will help if you put effort into wrapping it correctly to prevent freezer burn from developing on the meat packages.
How to Freeze Meat
You can try several different methods of freezing meat to see which one you ultimately like the most. Whether you use plastic wrap, freezer wrap, food storage containers, or even food storage bags with zipper seals, you can find a way to keep your meat from going bad until you want to use it.
Freezing meat is a practical ideal that will help you save money by allowing you to purchase the meat while it is on sale, getting it at much lower prices, and keeping it for all kinds of recipes. Now, you can buy in bulk without worrying about your meat going bad on you.
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