Six tips when freezing meat – including storage chart

Freezing meat carefully will help you have a high quality product when thawed and cooked.

October 9, 2018 - Author: ,

Chunk of meat on gray background.

You found a great sale on meat and bought more than you can use within a day or two. You can preserve it by canning, drying or freezing. Freezing is by far the simplest method of preserving meat. Michigan State University Extension has some helpful tips when freezing meat.

  1. You can freeze fresh meat and poultry in its supermarket wrapping if you will use it in a month or two. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that you add a second wrapping for long-term storage to maintain quality and prevent freezer burn. Overwrap the package of meat with airtight heavy-duty aluminum foil, freezer paper or place the package inside a freezer bag. While it is safe to freeze fresh meat or poultry in its supermarket wrapping, this type of wrap allows air to pass through, which can lead to freezer burn. Foods with freezer burn are safe to eat, but will be dry and may not taste good.
  2. Keep your freezer at 0º Fahrenheit or lower. Put no more food in your freezer than can get frozen in 24 hours.
  3. Spread out the bags of meat in your freezer when you are first freezing them. You can neatly stack and organize them in your freezer once they are completely frozen.
  4. Do not stuff any kind of meat or poultry before freezing it. Harmful bacteria can grow in the stuffing before it gets completely frozen and then it can once again grow when it is being thawed.
  5. Thaw all meats in the refrigerator for the very best quality. Cook the meat once it is thawed.
  6. Freeze meat in meal size portions. Label the package with the kind of meat, the amount in the package and the date it was frozen.

Freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, but the quality and nutritional value decreases over time. Recommended storage times from the United States Department of Health and Human Services are for quality only.

Category

Food

Refrigerator
(40 °F or below)

Freezer
(0 °F or below)

Hot dogs

opened package

1 week

1 to 2 months

unopened package

2 weeks

1 to 2 months

Luncheon meat

opened package or deli sliced

3 to 5 days

1 to 2 months

unopened package

2 weeks

1 to 2 months

Bacon & Sausage

Bacon

7 days

1 month

Sausage, raw — from chicken, turkey, pork, beef

1 to 2 days

1 to 2 months

Hamburger & Other Ground Meats

Hamburger, ground beef, turkey, veal, pork, lamb, & mixtures of them

1 to 2 days

3 to 4 months

Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb & Pork

Steaks

3 to 5 days

6 to 12 months

Chops

3 to 5 days

4 to 6 months

Roasts

3 to 5 days

4 to 12 months

Fresh Poultry

Chicken or turkey, whole

1 to 2 days

1 year

Chicken or turkey, pieces

1 to 2 days

9 months

Tags: food budgeting, food & health, food preservation, msu extension, protein, safe food & water


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