Freezing and Thawing Tips For Fresh Meat

Posted on 28/01/2015 13:26, by Anisa Jamal

Freezing is definitely on our minds right now with the icy temperatures outside. So we thought it would be a good time to share our thoughts about freezing food and why we think it’s cool to do.

So your Thompsons meat box arrived and it’s filled with over 5kg of fresh meat. Don’t be afraid, you’re not expected to eat it all in one week! Your freezer can be your best friend – why not separate it all out and pop portions in the freezer and take them out as and when you need? Simples.

 
Here’s why we like freezing meats:

  • Freezing foods is actually the most natural form of preservation. It locks in nutrients and vitamins and all the goodness right when the food is in its peak condition. 
  • It’s a great back-up supply for when you can’t face the shops.
  • When you look in your freezer and find something amazing that you’ve forgotten about, like a cheeky pair of sirloin steaks, it feels like Christmas all over again.
  • Freezing meats is basically the same planting a fiver in your coat pocket at the end of winter so that next season you can find it “unexpectedly” and enjoy that thrill.Vacuum sealed fresh chicken

So how do you do it safely?

  • Freeze meats on the day you buy them.
  • The idea is to protect meats from exposure to air, so wrap meats in plastic wrap, then wrap again in foil or seal in a zipped freezer bag. How you wrap it will affect the quality of the meat when you’re ready to use it. 
  • Have a look at our guide below on how long meat can be kept in the freezer for, as after this point, it’s possible for meat to develop freezer burn.
  • Allow hot food to cool before putting it in the freezer or you’ll raise the internal temperature and cause other frozen foods to start de-frosting. 
  • Separate your food into portions so you can defrost as you need. You don’t want to take out a whole frozen block of chicken thighs when you only need a couple. If you’re freezing burgers, just slide a square of baking parchment in between the patties so you can take out as many as you need.
  • Larger amounts of fat on meats like pork increase the risk of it spoiling while it’s frozen. Trim off the excess fat before wrapping and storing in the freezer.

    Vacuum sealed fresh poultry

How to thaw it all safely

DO

  • Transfer meats to the bottom shelf of the fridge (on a plate to collect melted ice) and let the meats thaw gradually. 
  • Smaller cuts should be fully thawed in 24 hours, larger joints can take a couple of days. 
  • Thaw in a bowl of lukewarm water under a running tap, if you’re pushed for time. Running tap? Yeah, here’s why that works 
  • Trust your nose, “if in doubt- chuck it out”. Freezing doesn’t necessarily kill bacteria, so don’t take risks, get rid of anything that doesn’t smell right. Quality of meat does reduce if it stays in there longer than advised.

    Frozen Beef

DON’T

  • Thaw frozen meats on the counter top at room temperature (the outside will thaw before the middle does, and bacteria can develop)
  • Cook meats straight from frozen 
  • Defrost meat in a microwave as it might dry out the edges. 
  • Re-freeze anything you have de-frosted 

What’s freezer burn?

  • You’ll recognise it on meats as brownish/white discoloration
  • It’s not harmful to eat, but does affect flavour and texture. 
  • There’s no way to reverse freezer burn, but you can slice off any affected portions before cooking/eating.
  • To avoid freezer burn, try to reduce exposure to air – wrap those meats in plastic and foil!
  • Store meats in appropriately sized containers so that the food fills the container entirely with minimal left over space. 

Food for "thaw"t

  • A full freezer is actually more economical to run. 
  • The less air space there is in there, the less work it has to do to circulate air round, so less power is needed. 
  • So if your freezer is half empty, get cooking or pop some bread in there or buy some frozen peas. Good for you, good for your freezer.

Recommended freezing durations:

  • Beef joints 8 months
  • Lamb and pork joints 6-8 months
  • Minced Meat (Beef, Lamb, Pork, Chicken and burgers) 3-4 months
  • Sausages 2 months
  • Beef steaks or chops 4-6 months
  • Pork chops 3-4 months
  • Lamb chops 3-4 months 
  • Leaner meats with less saturated fat no longer than 3 months 
  • Whole chicken 8-12 months
  • Chicken pieces 8 months
  • Bacon and other cured meats 1 month

Note: If you freeze raw meat, then thaw it and cook it, it can be re-frozen.

Freezing use by date

And finally, let's clear this up: "Use by" refers to safety. Food can be eaten up to this date, it can also be frozen before this date, preferably on the day of purchase... 
"Best before" is a term used about quality of food. Food can be safe to eat after this date, but it may not be at its best. 

Waste not want not! 

 

 

 

 

 

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