Medically the evaluation by Adrienne Seitz, MS, RD, LDN, Nutrition — created by Jon Johnson top top October 1, 2020

Freezing meat is a an excellent way to keep the nutritional value and keep that from spoiling. Depending on the cut and kind of meat, uncooked meats may maintain in the freezer and stay in ~ a high top quality for everywhere from 1–12 months.

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It is important to follow the correct guidelines to store and freeze the meat in order to ensure that safety and also prevent bacterial growth.

This post will comment on the prominence of safe storing meat and outline few of the ideal practices because that storing and freezing different varieties of meat.


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Safe storage can protect meat against quality and also flavor loss and bacterial growth.

The United states Department of farming (USDA) keep in mind that safely storing meat in the freezer in ~ 0°F (-18°C) reduce the temperature come a point that inhibits many bacterial growth.

Warmer temperatures than this can allow bacteria to flourish on the meat, which can make a person sick. This is why meat save on computer in the refrigerator commonly only lasts because that a few days. The cooler temperatures deserve to slow some bacterial growth yet not sufficient to store the food from spoiling.

Proper freezing also protects versus pathogenic bacteria, which are the bacteria behind foodborne illnesses and also food poisoning.

Safe storage additionally protects the meat from flavor and quality loss. A number of compounds in meat oxidization and failure rather easily at room temperature, which deserve to lead to a noticeable loss of flavor.

Proper storage methods — such together curing, smoking, and also freezing — may help slow this procedure or stop some or all top quality loss.


Some the the finest practices because that storing and also freezing meat include:

Preparing meat because that freezing

In many cases, the is yes sir to save meat purchased indigenous a sector in the parcel it come in. Inspect for any type of holes or breaks in the parcel first, yet an airtight parcel will store the meat for sure at the encourage temperature.

For butchered meat, plunder the cut in an airtight parcel first. The Food and also Drug management (FDA) introduce overwrapping the packaging through airtight foil or plastic pave if freeze for longer than 2 months.

Freezing temperature

Freezing temperature is a an important aspect of storing meat. People should save meat frozen in ~ a temperature the 0°F (-18°C) or below. The USDA note that this temperature inhibits the growth of bacteria and also shuts down any other microbes, such as yeasts and molds, in the food.

People have the right to use a thermometer to examine whether or no their freezer will certainly reach this temperature. Some freezers the see regular use may not with temperatures this short consistently, which may put the food at risk of bacterial growth and spoilage.

Thawing meat

There are three key ways to defrost and thaw meat indigenous the freezer.

The slowest and perhaps safest technique is to thaw the sealed package in the refrigerator. Smaller sized cuts that meat might defrost in a few hours, whereas bigger cuts that meat may take a couple of days to defrost.

To for sure thaw meat faster, a person deserve to place the in a leakproof plastic bag and collection it in a tub of cold water. Lock should change the water every 30 minutes and cook the meat immediately after thawing.

Some microwaves likewise have certain settings to assist defrost frozen meat. If utilizing the microwave method, cook the meat automatically after defrosting it.

Never thaw meat out in the open up at room temperature, such as on a respond to or in the sink. The Centers for an illness Control and Prevention (CDC) keep in mind that bacteria deserve to multiply easily at room temperature.

Refreezing meat

Once raw meat has actually defrosted properly, many experts recommend not freezing it again unless the person cooks the first. This is mostly to protect against texture and quality loss.

Raw meat defrosted in the frozen fridge is tho technically for sure to freeze again, despite the quality may suffer due to moisture loss.

When defrosted and refrozen, the meat will certainly create more ice crystals in ~ its cells. These ice crystals rupture the organization of the meat ~ above a microscopic level that can adjust the taste and texture the the meat.

Defrosting and also refreezing the meat again may cause a notable difference in quality. The meat may be very dry or lose some the its texture.

After food preparation defrosted foods items thoroughly, the is safe to freeze them again.


The FDA note that freezing meat at 0°F (-18°C) will technically preserve it indefinitely. However, the quality of the meat may drop after part time, and an extremely long freeze time may cause noticeable transforms in the quality and also taste that the meat.

Because that this, various species of meat have different storage lengths come ensure the they room still high quality once thawed the end to eat.

The sections listed below outline exactly how long to frozen meat based upon the kind of meat:

Fresh meat

Fresh meat will usually have the longest shelf life and can critical the longest in the freezer without losing quality.

Ground meatsRaw hamburger meat: 3–4 monthsFresh beef, veal, lamb, and porkSteak: 6–12 monthsRoasts: 4–12 monthsChops: 4–6 monthsOther cuts, such as liver, tongue, and also chitterlings: 3–4 monthsBacon: 1 monthRaw sausage: 1–2 monthsRaw poultry, such as chicken or turkeyWhole: 12 monthsParts: 9 monthsGiblets: 3–4 monthsFish and shellfishLean fish: 6–8 monthsFatty fish: 2–3 monthsFresh shellfish and also squid: 3–6 months

Cooked meats

Processing, cooking, or cigarette smoking the meat dramatically reduces this time in many cases, together the top quality of the meat will suffer after freezing again.

Refreezing cooked meat may additionally taint the odor of the meat, as some seasonings oxidize and breakdown after cooking — also in the freezer.

With this in mind, below are the freeze times for cooked meats:

Lunch meatsHot dogs: 1–2 monthsLunch meats: 1–2 monthsHam (whole, half, or slices): 1–2 monthsCorned beef (drained): 1 monthCooked meatSmoked sausage products: 1–2 monthsMeat leftovers native beef, veal, lamb, and also pork: 2–3 monthsGravy, meat broth, and stews containing meat: 2–3 monthsCooked poultry, such as chicken or turkeyPieces: 4 monthsIn gravy: 6 monthsFried: 4 monthsNuggets or patties: 1–3 monthsFish and also shellfishCooked fish: 4–6 monthsSmoked fish: 2 monthsCanned fish (out of the can): 2 months

Freezing meat is a great way come store and protect it from spoilage. New meat deserve to technically last indefinitely when stored at the exactly temperature, so the guidelines because that storage describe the quality and flavor of the meat itself.

Following safety and security precautions helps alleviate the opportunity of spoilage, together well. Part freezers might not be able to keep the temperature repetitively low enough, so storage times can vary.

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Even after adhering to the correct safety and also storage procedures, human being should avoid any meat the looks or smells odd.