How Long Can You Freeze Meat

Knowing how long you can freeze meat is important for your overall meal planning. The amount of time you can keep meat in the freezer varies based on the meat you choose. But, no matter what, the longer you freeze meat, the more the quality of the meat suffers.

Storing Meat Properly: Because of the makeup of each different type of meat and meat product, each item will begin to lose nutritional value and flavor at different stages. Loss is determined by several factors, one being how your food storage containers hold up. Meat is best stored in freezer bags and then wrapped in freezer paper. Make sure all air has been removed from the freezer bags before you place them into the refrigerator. If air is allowed to touch the meat, the meat can get freezer burn or discolor.

Another factor that is important is labeling. When freezing meat, make sure you write the type of meat and the date on the package. Finally, make sure the product you are freezing is sound. If you freeze a piece of meat that is about to go bad, it will be in the same condition when it thaws. It's best to freeze fresh meat.

Breakfast Meats and Processed Meats: Bacon and sausage seem to be less forgiving when frozen. A good rule of thumb is to resurrect these items from the freezer in one to two months. Of course, labeling and dating the meat is advised, but since this meat is already packaged this step may be ignored. An easy way to remember which meats should only be kept in the freezer for a few months is to keep those meats in the refrigerator freezer and keep all other meats in the deep freeze. Ham, hotdogs and lunchmeats all should be kept in the short-term freezer and used within two months.

Cooked or Prepared Meats: Cooked or prepared foods that have meat in them, such as casseroles, gravy and soups, should not be kept longer than about three months. After that time, the meat will begin to lose flavor. Cooked roasts and chili also fall into this category.

Frozen Dinners: Frozen dinners and uncooked meat, such as ground beef or ground turkey, are best when used within about four months. The best solution to keeping abreast of which foods should be used up in what amount of time is labeling. Use a grease marker, and label each item with the date you purchased it, or select a date that is four months from the date you purchased it.

Uncooked Meats: Uncooked meats will last the longest in the freezer. Eight to twelve months should be your cutoff date, however. No matter what the food, when frozen too long the product will begin to change in texture, taste, nutritional value and flavor. Let's face it, nobody likes a tough steak.

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