Freezing and defrosting tips
Everything you need to know about freezing
When it comes to meat, a lot of care needs to be taken when storing it in your freezer and then defrosting it for consumption. It’s important to understand which types of meat can be frozen, how to safely use foods when they have been stored in the freezer, and more. There are a lot of myths surrounding freezer storage which puts many people off, but freezing your meat is a great way to help it stay fresh until you’re ready to use it, saving you money and minimising your food waste. This guide will give you accurate and relevant tips for freezing and defrosting your meats to make it easier for you when you want to plan your meals for week.
If you’ve bought your meat in bulk or you don’t want to use certain meat for a little while, then keeping it in the freezer is the only storing option that will prevent the meat from going bad. It’s not simply a case of throwing the meat in a draw all together and hoping for the best though. You can save a significant amount of freezing and defrosting time by dividing your meat up into individual portion sizes and freezing them in a vacuum sealed pouch or Ziplock bag.
This is to ensure little to no air comes into contact with the surface of the meat, preserving its freshness effectively. Prolonged exposure to oxygen when the food is not wrapped tightly enough can result in freezer burn. The meat will still be edible if it encounters freezer burn but some of the flavour could be compromised, so cutting away the freezer burn will help to improve the flavours.
Additionally, freezing your meat products in individual portions will help to reduce food waste as you will know exactly how much game meat you’ll need for one family meal for example, so you don’t cook more than is required.
What types of meat can be frozen?
Practically any type of raw meat can be frozen, including poultry like fresh chicken breast fillets for instance. This is as long as you are freezing the products within their use by date, and they haven’t been frozen already. The same terms apply to the meat when it has been cooked, you can freeze it to be eaten another day if it is within date and you’re not re-freezing it after it has already been frozen. However, if you want to ensure the quality of the meat is kept at its absolute best, we always advise that you freeze it on the day that you buy it.
There is a common misconception that freezing meat will kill any bacteria or germs that naturally develop. This is not the case as the majority of bacteria can withstand freezing, they just lay dormant because of the lack of water and low temperature. As a result, frozen meat can technically stay fresh forever, but ice crystal damage would eventually start to negatively impact the taste and texture of the product. So, you shouldn’t keep your meat products frozen for too long or you could be missing out on the delicious flavours of the meat that encouraged you to purchase it in the first place.
The most crucial stage of the process in terms of bacteria growth is during defrosting. If it isn’t done correctly the increase in temperature and water will give the bacteria its perfect growth conditions.
Everything you need to know about defrosting
As mentioned above, bacteria need access to water and warmer temperatures to grow, so you can’t take your meat out of the freezer and just leave it out in the open kitchen to defrost. The safest way to defrost meat is by putting it in the fridge overnight. This is because the meat is still in a slightly warmer place so it will gradually defrost, but the temperature never gets too warm that bacteria are free to grow (make sure your fridge is set to 5C or less).
Bigger meat items will take longer to defrost, so if you need your meat defrosted quickly ready to be cooked, then you could potentially use a microwave to do so if it has a specific defrost setting. Even if you do need your product defrosted quicker than it would do in the fridge you should always check the guidance on the packaging of the meat and leave plenty of time for it to completely defrost.
Bacteria can survive being cooked if the meat is only partially defrosted so never take the risk, always be certain that the food is fully defrosted. Once meat has been defrosted it needs to be cooked and consumed within 24 hours. Don’t forget you can freeze cooked meats and leftovers too, you just need to ensure that the food has completely cooled down before putting it in the freezer and when you defrost it, it will need to be eaten within 24 hours.
As an experienced online butchers, we understand the importance of safely freezing and defrosting your meat products, so we hope you have found this guide helpful. If you’re looking for delicious, high quality meat products that can be delivered straight to your door then The Village Butcher has got you covered. Explore everything we have through our online store as well as our collection of recipes below. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about your online meat delivery.