Frozen meats: How long can they be stored?

We all know that fresh meat is a very perishable food. Having frozen meat allows us to extend its shelf life while maintaining its quality and nutrients. Of course, provided we take into account some important aspects that will allow us to enjoy the quality of a good piece of meat for a longer time.

Freezing preserves food for prolonged periods of time because it prevents the growth of pathogenic microorganisms that can cause deterioration or disease. In this way, frozen foods can last a long time in the freezer without spoiling.

In any case, there are always limits to respect for the situation. It is necessary to understand that, although frozen, food does not last forever.

How long do frozen meat stand?

The time that food lasts in the freezer varies greatly, depending on the type of food. Frozen meats usually last less time than vegetables, for example.

One of the main reasons why freezing times are different is the amount of fat that each type of meat presents. We tell you the average times that different types of frozen meats can withstand:

  • Very fatty meat and sausages hold in the freezer for 1 to 2 months.
  • Burgers and other preparations with fresh minced meat, 3 to 4 months.
  • If we talk about veal chops and fresh lamb and pork meat, we can freeze them for 4 to 12 months.
  • Chicken, turkey and other poultry meat support 9 to 12 months.
  • At low temperatures we stop bacterial growth, but not oxidation reactions. And although it happens more slowly, the fat continues its process of getting dirty.

This persistence of the process by which food is converted to rancid is one of the main causes of the loss of nutritional value of meats. Its flavor, texture and color are affected. Although we do not notice it at first glance, we must know that it will happen at some point if we do not use the meat.

Tricks to keep the meat quality intact

To prevent the quality of frozen meats from being affected and lose some of their nutritional value, we must take into account some small tricks that will help us maximize their good condition:

1- The proper temperature of the freezer: since it facilitates the meat to freeze faster.

2- Freeze food in vacuo: they should be wrapped in film or in the appropriate containers. Otherwise, we run the risk of losing water, absorbing bad odors, drying out or burning.

3- Freeze the meat in packages or small portions: when we freeze very large pieces, the center of the product takes longer to freeze and loses quality. In addition, ice crystals can form in the food that, when thawed, break their structures and spoil their characteristics.

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4- Separate the visible fat from the pieces: as we have seen, the frozen does not stop the fat burning and could spoil it.

5- Freeze cooked meat or stews with meat in airtight plastic or glass containers: we should wait until they are completely cold before putting them in the freezer.

6- If we want our freezer not to be a tailor’s drawer, it is important to mark the contents and freezing dates of each package well. Similarly, try to maintain an order in storage. This way we will avoid having to discard the meat that could have been hidden and is not in the best conditions when using it.

Know how to defrost properly

So important is to look at the conditions of freezing of meats, such as knowing how to defrost them in the right way. It won’t help us to have preserved the meat well if at the time of defrosting we spoil it.

Frozen meats should be thawed cold. It is not a good idea to leave them at room temperature, nor near a heat source to speed up the process.

The best way to do this is to leave it in the fridge for about 24 hours. And if we have not been able to plan ahead, it is an option to use the special microwave function to defrost.

What we do have to keep in mind is that once thawed, the meat should be cooked immediately. When it approaches temperatures near 4-6 degrees, the bacteria that could be present before freezing begin to multiply.

If once cooked, we see that we will not consume it soon, we can freeze the cooked pieces of meat again. But never refreeze a raw food.

If we want to enjoy quality frozen meat, it is much better to buy fresh meat and freeze it ourselves. We can make a larger purchase of meat and freeze it following the advice we have commented above. We will always control the quality of the product better, than if we buy frozen meat directly.