Incorrect freezing of your meat can ruin the taste, cause burns in the freezer, and ultimately waste your time and money. From chicken to steaks, the right packaging techniques help you to freeze with better results.
Let's explain the most important thing: you have to freeze meat fast. The slower the meat freezes, the more moisture is extracted. Lack of moisture in steaks makes them look like leather. Chicken without juiciness is dry and difficult to swallow. This lack of moisture is often referred to as freezer burn, but it is really just the movement of water from the meat into the big ice crystals and the frost that forms on the surface. Once it is pulled out of the meat, there is no effective way to put it back. So let's take a look at how to freeze meat properly and avoid this problem.
How to Freeze Meat Fast and Properly
The Way You Pack the Meat Up With the right freezing temperature, you can make sure your meat stays frozen as fresh as possible. If you follow these steps, the meat will become tastier without burning in the freezer.
Select the correct freezing temperature.
For faster freezing times, make sure your freezing temperature is 0 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Some freezers have a freezer shelf. This is the perfect place to quickly freeze your meat.
If your freezer is not cold enough or has no special freezer shelf, try an ice-bath for your meat. Put your vacuum sealed meat in an ice bath (water and ice cubes) and add some salt. The salt makes the water colder and helps you to pre-cool the meat before placing it in the freezer.
Packing smaller portions
The thickness and quantity of meat in your freezer bag also plays a role. Pack meat in the smallest portions you will use. If you often cook for yourself, cut it up and wrap it the way you would use it. The same applies to the planning of family meals.
Not only individual portions of meat and small pieces in packages freeze faster, but it is also easier to get just the right amount of meat to thaw out of the freezer when planning a meal.
You can also freeze individual steaks or pork chops and then stack them in alternative packaging. This prevents them from sticking together and allows even freezing.
Pack Meat for Freezing
Always repack meat when you bring it home from the store. The styrofoam and plastic packaging, which contains most of the fresh meat, is not suitable for freezing (and is not airtight).
You can use frozen paper (like this white paper) or plastic wrap. Follow this step by rewinding the meat in aluminum foil or using a plastic bag (squeeze out as much air as possible). Blanch fresh fish before wrapping and freezing in a salt-water mixture. This helps with freezing and prevents your fillets from drying out.
If you want to seal your meat air-free, invest in a vacuum sealer. These machines suck the air out of the plastic packaging and seal the end with heat. It's more expensive than using plastic wrap, but it's the best way to make sure your meat stays in the freezer for longer. If you want to get more out of your vacuum packer and all the meat you pack, you can also use it sous vide cooking so.
Label your package with date and content. In this way, you will find what you are looking for and can eat older pieces of meat first.
How long can you leave meat in the freezer?
Part of proper freezing depends on how long you keep meat in the freezer. While you can freeze food technically indefinitely (you only need to cook it once it's thawed), it's time-limited for your meat to taste optimal.
Meats like bacon, sausage, hot dogs and other processed delicatessen style cuts should only be frozen for two months or less. Minced meat, including hamburger, is best used within four months of freezing. Fresh steaks, pork chops and lamb are stable for up to a year.
Your meat will not spoil after these periods ̵
Thawing Your Frozen Meat
Proper thawing helps your meat taste good, and it will also help prevent the growth of bacteria. If you thaw prematurely, you can put your meat in the refrigerator, depending on the size of the cuts or the amount of minced meat in the package. This can take between one day and a few days. This is ideal from the point of view of food safety as the flesh thaws but is not heated to a temperature above that of the refrigerator.
If you have smaller cuts to thaw and want to finish faster, you can run cold water over the still sealed meat. Although hot water is tempting, it promotes the growth of bacteria.
Never thaw meat on the counter. This opens up an enormous risk for bacterial growth and possible food poisoning.