Freezing meat is something that households do every day.  But, how can you do this so that it will last for the longest time?  Not only that, how do you make sure that frozen meat is stored safely to avoid contaminants or freezer burn?

To save money, many households now buy their meat in bulk, as it is often cheaper this way.  In fact, ask any rancher and they will tell you that they process and properly store any animal they have raised.  Read on to find the best methods for properly freezing meat.

 

How Would You Benefit From Freezing Meat?

There are a few reasons why freezing meat can be beneficial. 

First, it can help you save money.  Reduce your food waste by storing meat in the freezer and using it when needed.  Also, buy in bulk lots for great price reductions.  Always ask if the retailer can do a better price for bulk!

Second, frozen meat is actually easy to cook.  Rather than having to thaw meat before cooking, you can just use it frozen.  This is especially helpful if you want to cook a large piece of meat in a home food smoker or BBQ, ie. low and slow cooking. 

Finally, it can be a great way to preserve it. When meat is frozen, it lasts much longer than when it is simply stored in the fridge, so you don’t have to worry about it going bad as quickly. 

So, let’s take a look at the different methods for freezing meat at home.

4 Methods of Freezing Meat

There are four methods to safely process meat to store in the freezer: 

  • air-tight 
  • vacuum sealing 
  • marinating
  • blanching 

Method 1: Air-Tight Freezing

This is the simplest, and most common way to freeze any meat.  Simply wrap the meat in plastic wrap or foil and place it in a freezer bag.

Air-tight bags are a good option if you plan to use the frozen meat within a few months.

Here’s how to do it:

Method 2: Vacuum Sealing

The best option for storing frozen meat for long periods is vacuum sealing.  In fact, meat that has been properly processed in food-grade vacuum sealer bags will last for 2-3 years in the freezer.

A vacuum sealer removes all the air from inside the packaging, which helps to prevent freezer burn.

Here’s how to vacuum seal your meat before freezing:

  • Cut/separate the meat into serving-sized pieces
  • Place the meat into a vacuum sealer bag
  • Press the “seal” button and wait for the machine to finish
  • Repeat with all of the meat

    Method 4: Blanching

    Blanching is a technique commonly used for freezing vegetables, however, it can also be used for meat.  It simply means par-cooking in boiling water before storing.

    If you blanch meat before freezing it helps remove bacteria and prevents freezer burn.  We would suggest this method to remove contamination or for meal-prep.

    Here’s how to blanch your meat before storing in the freezer:

    • Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil
    • Cut the meat into serving-sized pieces
    • Place the meat in the boiling water
    • Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through
    • Remove the meat from the boiling water and place it in ice water
    • Place portions into bags
    • Repeat with all of the meat
    • Label and date the bag

    Method 3: Marinating

    Marinating is another method that can be used for freezing meat.  The common way we know of this is the sensation of sous vide cooking.  Once again, this is best undertaken with a home vacuum sealer.

    Ensure that if you are using a liquid marinade, you have a food vacuum sealer that will work with liquids.  Marinating the meat in a tasty sauce or herbs helps preserve it and adds delicious flavor.

    Be sure to label the package with the type of frozen meat and the date you put it in the freezer.

    Here’s how:

    • Use a freezer bag, or vacuum sealer bag
    • Pour the marinade into the bag
    • Shake to coat the meat with marinade
    • Squeeze all excess air out/use your home food vacuum sealer
    • Seal the bag 
    • Label and date the bag
    Freezing Meat Method - Marinating

    Best Tips for Freezing Meat

    Now that you know the different methods to use, here are some tips for storing your frozen meat:

    • Be sure to use high-quality packaging materials.  Plastic wrap and freezer bags work well, but make sure they are moisture-proof.  If you are using vacuum packing, make sure to use a food-grade bag and good home food vacuum sealer.
    • It’s also important to package your meat in the right size packets.  If you are freezing steaks or chops, for example, it’s best to wrap them individually so that they don’t stick together. Larger cuts of meat can be stored in one or two pieces.
    • When freezing chicken breasts, wrap them individually so that they don’t stick together.  You can also take out as much or as little as you need to reduce food wastage.
    • For ground meat, it’s best to package it in smaller portions so that it thaws evenly.
    • A freezer bag is great for roasts or other large pieces, however, cover it in plastic wrap first.  This will help protect it from freezer burn.
    • Make sure to date and label the packages to keep track of how long the meat has been stored.
    • It’s also a good idea to thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator, rather than on the counter. This will help to prevent bacteria from growing.

    The following chart lists the recommended storing times for various types of meat.  Please note that these times can be extended by up to 3 times by using a vacuum sealer!

    Type of Meat and Its Recommended Freezing Time

    Type of MeatFreezing Time Duration
    Pork3-6 months 
    Beef3-6 months 
    Lamb3-6 months 
    Poultry6-12 months
    Seafood6-12 months

    FAQ:

    Can cooked meat be frozen?

    Yes, you can freeze cooked meat.  However, it’s best to keep it in small portions so that it can be used easily and doesn’t take up too much space in the freezer.  Cooked meat will last for up to four months if stored properly.

    What’s the best way to thaw frozen meat? 

    It is best to place it in the refrigerator overnight.  It is probably not a good idea to thaw frozen meat at room temperature, because bacteria may grow and create problems like foodborne illness.

    Is it safe to eat frozen chicken that’s been cooked?

    Yes, it is safe to eat chicken that’s been cooked and then frozen.  However, it’s best to store the chicken in small portions so that it doesn’t take up too much space in the freezer. Cooked chicken will last for up to four months in the freezer.

    Conclusion

    Now you know the different methods of freezing meat, and having frozen meat on hand gives you many meal options.  So which one is best for you?

    The answer to that question will depend on your personal preferences and needs.  If you have a large family and go through a lot of meat each week, using freezer bags may be the easiest option for you.  However, to store meat safely for long periods, vacuum sealing is essential.

    For small quantities of meat or meal-prep, air-tight bags or marinating might be more appropriate. No matter what method you choose, remember to always read the instructions carefully and follow them exactly. 

    Freezing meat can help save you money by allowing you to buy it in bulk when it’s on sale, and then store it for later use. It also allows you to prepare meals ahead of time and have your frozen meat ready to go.

    Read all about freezing vegetables in our earlier article.