How to Freeze Meat Properly for Safe Storage and Better Flavor
Freezing your meat wrong can ruin the flavor, cause freezer burn, and ultimately waste your money and time. From chicken to steaks, the proper techniques in packaging will help you freeze with better results.
Let’s lead the most important thing: you need to freeze meat quickly. The slow meat freezes, the more moisture is drawn out of it. Lack of moisture in steaks makes them like leather. Chicken without its juiciness is dry and tough to swallow. This lack of moisture is often called freezer burn, but it’s really just the movement of water out of the meat and into the large ice crystals and frost that forms on the surface. Once it’s pulled from the meat there’s no effective way to put it back, so let’s look at how to freeze meat correctly and avoid that problem.
How to Freeze Meat Fast and Properly
From the way you package the meat to having the right freezer temperature, there are some important things to do that will help you ensure your meat stays as freshly frozen as possible. If you follow these steps, you’ll have better-tasting meat without the freezer burn.
Pick the Right Freezer Temp
For quicker freezing times, be sure that your freezer temperature is at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Some freezers have a quick-freeze shelf, which is the perfect place to put your meat to freeze rapidly.
If your freezer isn’t cold enough or doesn’t have a special shelf for rapid freezing, try an ice bath for your meat. Place your vacuum-sealed meat in an ice bath (water and ice cubes) and add some salt. The salt will make the water colder and help you prechill the meat before putting it in the freezer.
Pack Smaller Portions
The thickness and amount of meat in your freezer bag matter, too. Pack meat in the smallest portions you’ll use. If you frequently cook for just yourself, cut it up and pack it the way you would use it. The same goes for family meal planning.
Not only do individual portions of meat and small cuts in packages freeze faster, but it’s also easier to grab just the right amount of meat out of the freezer for thawing when you have a meal planned.
You can also freeze individual steaks or pork chops, and then stack them together in alternative packaging. This keeps them from getting stuck together and allows for even freezing.
Packaging Meats for Freezing
Always repackage meat when you get it home from the store. The styrofoam and plastic packing most fresh meat come in isn’t ideal for freezing (and isn’t airtight).