There are a lot of different opinions around the Internet and probably amongst your friend group when it comes to freezing foods, especially meat. What are the best practices for freezing meat, how long will the meat last, how can you tell if it’s too old to eat, and other things you’ve heard over the years. But what’s true and what’s false? Our Good Ranchers team is here to help debunk some common myths and misconceptions when it comes to freezing meat.
8 Myths About Freezing Meat And Other Foods
Myth 1: You can’t refreeze cooked meats. This is one of the biggest meat freezing myths around. You’ve probably even heard this from your mom or grandmother over the years, but it’s false. As long as your meat hasn’t been left out for more than two hours, you can definitely freeze and refreeze meat. While it’s still safe to refreeze raw or uncooked meat, just note that you may lose a bit of its flavor as it thaws and loses some of its moisture. Note: your grandmother may not have been completely wrong, but meat packaging techniques and freezer technology has certainly changed over the years. Myth 2: You have to freeze meat right away. You can safely freeze most food up until the best before or use by date. You usually want to remove it from its original packaging and rewrap it yourself to keep air out. Luckily for Good Ranchers customers, we sell our meats individually packaged, vacuum-sealed, and freezer ready for your convenience and freshness of the meat. To put another way, if you buy two filet mignons from the grocery store that are “best by March 22nd” with the intention for a wonderful candlelit steak dinner with your significant other, but March 22nd rolls around and you’re still ordering takeout, you can easily tightly rewrap the steaks and store in the freezer until you’re ready for date night, assuming they have been refrigerated the entire time and not sitting out on the counter. Myth 3: You can’t freeze and refreeze thawed meat. This is probably one of the most common misconceptions out there, but experts agree that if the foods were thawed in the refrigerator and kept cold (40 degrees or below), it is still safe. You may notice some lost flavor, but as far as safety of the meats, poultry, and fish, you are good to go. The U. S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) advises: Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods. If previously cooked foods are thawed in the refrigerator, you may refreeze the unused portion. Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days. Do not refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F. If you purchase previously frozen meat, poultry or fish at a retail store, you can refreeze if it has been handled properly, according to USDA. Myth 4: Frozen food expires. Like most things in life, preparation is key. If you’ve stored the food properly in vacuum-sealed packages and stored at the right temperature in the right section of your freezer (see Myth 8), you should be good to go. Another thing to note when freezing meats is that cut up pieces of meat will not typically last as long in the freezer as whole cuts. Read more at the USDA website for freezing and food safety. Myth 5: Freezing meat and other foods will kill the bacteria. If this were true, we’d all be rejoicing. Freezing foods won’t kill bacteria, but it may slow its growth. According to the USDA, “The freezing process itself does not destroy nutrients. In meat and poultry products, there is little change in nutrient value during freezer storage.” A good rule of thumb is only freezing foods that have been hygienically wrapped and prepared to avoid cross-contamination in your freezer. Remember when thawing and cooking meats that cooking at the right temperature is the best way to remove all bacteria and is safe to eat. If you grill or cook meat frequently, investing in a meat thermometer may be helpful. Myth 6: Frozen meats and foods have fewer nutrients than fresh meats and foods. Another misconception about frozen foods and not even close to accurate! Frozen foods will actually retain their nutritional value and can sometimes be higher in vitamins, like frozen fruits and vegetables compared to the fresh stuff in the produce aisle. Why? Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually picked at their peak ripeness, therefore locking in all those vitamins and nutrients. “Freezing meat and poultry does not affect the nutritional value,” according to CiCi Williamson in this informative Washington Post article, who is a food safety expert with the USDA meat and poultry hotline. Myth 7: You can freeze all food. While it’s safe to freeze all foods, it’s important to note that not all foods freeze well, so it may not be worth it. Avoid freezing foods like lettuce or other salad greens, any creamy sauces that may include egg or egg yolk such, or meats made with mayonnaise, like your mom’s famous Chicken Salad. Coffee is another one of those that people like to freeze, but the oils start to break down in freezing temperatures, absorbing funky flavors. Myth 8: You can store frozen food anywhere in your freezer. This one probably isn’t as commonly known, but not everywhere in your freezer is ideal for frozen foods. Think about the freezer door for instance. As much as you open and close it, the temperature there fluctuates more than other areas of your freezer. For long-term freezing of meat, try storing it towards the back or bottom of the freezer (but don’t forget it’s there!). Our Good Ranchers meat is available for purchase at our pop-up locations throughout the U.S. and we will soon be selling meat online. Our meat is 100% all-natural American beef and chicken, and each are individually packaged, vacuum-sealed, and freezer ready. Follow us on Pinterest for recipe ideas and more tips and myths about freezing meat.