How Long Can You Freeze Meat (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 1-12 Months

Meat can be frozen to maintain its nutritional content and prevent it from deteriorating. Uncooked meats can be stored in the freezer for 1–12 months, depending on the cut and kind of meat.

When it comes to food storage, nothing beats stocking your freezer with a range of frozen meals and supplies, because freezing your food is the greatest way to ensure long-term freshness.

To preserve the safety of the meat and avoid bacterial growth, it is critical to follow the proper storage and freezing procedures. In this article, you will learn how long you may store meat in your refrigerator.

How Long Can You Freeze Meat?

Type Of MeatTime
Cooked Meat1-3 Months
Fresh MeatUp to 12 Months

The FDA points out that preserving meat at 0°F will keep it safe permanently. However, the meat’s quality may deteriorate over time, and extremely long freeze durations may result in visible changes in the meat’s texture and flavour.

As a result, different varieties of meat require varying storage times to ensure that they remain of high quality once thawed. According to the type of meat, the sections below detail how long to freeze it:

Fresh meat has the longest shelf life and maybe frozen for the longest time without losing quality. Ground meats such as raw hamburger meat, raw ground turkey, veal, hog, or lamb, for example, can be preserved for 3-4 months. Fresh beef, veal, lamb, and pork can be kept for 6-8 months in the refrigerator.

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In many cases, processing, grilling, or smoking the meat lowers this time significantly, as the meat’s quality would suffer if it is frozen again. Because some flavours oxidise and break down after cooking — even in the freezer — refreezing cooked meats may spoil the flavour.

Meat may be stored safely to avoid quality and flavour loss, as well as bacterial growth. According to the US Department of Agriculture, safely freezing meat at 0°F drops the temperature to a point where most bacterial development is inhibited.

Bacteria can thrive on the meat at temperatures higher than this, making a person sick. This is why meat that is kept in the refrigerator only lasts a few days. Cooler temperatures may inhibit bacterial development, but not enough to prevent food spoilage.

Why Can You Freeze Meat For That Long?

Uncooked meat can be stored in the freezer for up to 10 months since the freezer preserves the quality of the meat. However, if the meat is prepared, it should only be stored for 3-4 months because there is a risk of spoilage.

Before you go out and buy a bunch of different kinds of meat, be sure you know how to safely and correctly store meat in your freezer. To begin, make sure you’re storing the beef — and any other frozen foods — at a degree of 0° Fahrenheit or lower; according to the USDA, this is the level that keeps food safe by inhibiting the growth of germs and deactivates any microbes existing in food.

It’s completely safe to freeze meats in their original packaging; however, the Guidelines suggest that you overwrap all such bundles with airtight heavy-duty wrappings such as foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper if you plan to keep them in your freezer for longer than two months — or you can simply place the package inside a plastic bag.

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The best part is that refrigerated meat maintained at 0°F or less can be consumed indefinitely, but it’s important to grasp the distinction between legal and healthy to eat. Because of problems like freezer burn, the quality of meat degrades over time, you might want to know how long you can keep different meats in the freezer before they start to stray into “poor quality” areas.

Conclusion

Meat can be frozen to keep it fresh and prevent it from spoiling. Fresh meat can technically last indefinitely if stored at the proper temperature, thus the storage recommendations are based on the meat’s quality and flavour.

Following safety guidelines also helps to limit the risk of spoiling. Because some freezers are unable to maintain a continuous low temperature, storage times may vary. People should avoid any meat that looks or smells strange, even if they have followed all of the proper safety and storage protocols.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0309174004001196
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12562-011-0460-6
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0309174005002147
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