Tips For Freezing: A Guide to Proper Meat Storage

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At The Best Stop, we believe that the best meat is fresh from the butcher. But that isn’t always an option — when properly preserved, a fresh cut that has been frozen is a close second.

Between saving money on bulk purchases and saving time during a busy schedule, there’s a lot of perks to storing meat in the freezer for later. However, if not frozen properly, you can run the risk of ruining the flavor and quality of meat—or worse, developing harmful bacteria! Check out our tips for freezing meats.

The Basics of Freezing Foods:

It’s important to remember that not all meat is created equal. Different cuts of meat freeze differently and require different considerations. Chicken breasts should be individually wrapped and frozen quickly upon purchase, fish should only be frozen in water or airtight packaging and beef only holds its flavor for about 4-6 months in the freezer.

However, despite the differences in cuts, they still all follow the same basic rules for proper freezing and storage. Follow these tips to keep your freezer neatly organized while ensuring that your meat is frozen properly and protected against freezer burn and contamination.

Organization is Key

A common mistake is freezing large portions of meat all at once. The method makes the freezing and thawing process more difficult. Instead, meat should be stored in meal-sized portions with the cut, quantity, and date clearly labeled. This way you can ensure that your meat is freezing correctly without being exposed to bacteria and is thawing evenly.

Pro Tip: For ground meats, place 1-2 lb portions into 1 gallon freezer bags and roll flat with a rolling pin before sealing and freezing flat. After freezing they can be stored vertically and the thin shape significantly reduces its thawing time.

Freeze Meat Fast

When it comes to freezing meat, it should always be frozen as fast as possible. This prevents the formation of large ice crystals along the meat’s surface, which can lead to freezer burn and result in dryer, tougher meat when thawed. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, make sure that your freezer temperature is set to at least 0ºF.

Wrap Your Meat When Freezing

The most important thing is to avoid exposing frozen meat to outside air. While a vacuum-sealer is ideal for ensuring that meats are packaged correctly, you can get by just fine with double wrapping cuts of meat with freezer paper, aluminum foil or airtight zip-loc bags. The plastic wrapping from the store is designed for quick access, not freezing. It’s best to add an additional layer of protection to these cuts if you’re not planning on using them right away.

Pro TipWhen using Freezer Paper, ensure that the shiny edge faces towards the meat and the paper-like side is outward. Make sure to clearly label your meats after wrapping.

Thawing Frozen Meat

Food should never be thawed on the countertop or outdoors! Thawing at room temperature raises the chances of meat developing bacteria, which can make you sick and ruin the flavor of the cut. The safest methods for thawing frozen meat is in the microwave, in the refrigerator or in a cold water bath.

We’re firm believers that, for the best results, meat should always be thawed overnight (or a few nights for larger cuts) in the fridge for the best results. Plus, if you change your mind, meat that has been thawed in the fridge can be refrozen again.

But if you’re in a rush, placing fully wrapped cuts of meat in a bowl with cold water can safely thaw it in the span of a few hours. Just make sure that you’re replacing the water about every 30 minutes to protect your meat from the formation of bacteria.

Only use the microwave when you’re absolutely pressed for time—we find that thawing meat in the microwave changes its consistency and texture. Because every microwave is different, you should look up the manufacturer’s guide to double-check that you’re thawing meat properly with your microwave!

It All Starts With High Quality Cuts

The only meat worth freezing is high-quality fresh meat. Fortunately, The Best Stop specializes in just that. For over 30 years The Best Stop in Scott, Louisiana has been providing award-winning cuts of specialty meats and Cajun cuisine to Acadiana.

With the launch of our online store, we are now able to ship our specialty meats nationwide!

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