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“Can your meat be frozen?”. This a question we get asked regularly by our customers, and one that we’re always happy to answer. Food waste is a growing issue and accounts for around 4.5 million tonnes of waste each year in the UK, much of which is meat.

Freezing meat, when done correctly, is a safe and reliable way of preserving the freshness and elongating the shelf life of your produce, helping to alleviate at least some food waste. It’s like putting your produce ‘on hold’. The meat will not go off in the freezer, however this doesn’t mean that freezing kills bacteria. Many types of bacteria are able to survive freezing, rather they are unable to grow due to the low temperature and lack of water, which is why it is so important to freeze your meat on the day of purchase, but more on that later…

What is freezer burn?

While you can keep your produce frozen for an extended length of time, it can affect the quality of your produce, if not packaged properly, through freezer burn.

Freezer burn is the result of air coming into contact with food, with water molecules being frozen and forming ice crystals within your meat causing dehydration and oxidation. It’s often caused by the meat not being correctly wrapped or the wrapping being damaged when put into the freezer. Meat affected by freezer burn is still edible but does reduce the quality and taste.

 

What can be frozen?

Raw meat can be frozen, including poultry, as long as it’s within the use by date and it hasn’t previously been frozen. Cooked meat can also be frozen too, as long as it hasn’t previously been frozen and is within its use by date.

 

How to freeze your meat?

It may seem like it has a simple answer, but there are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to freezing produce.

Packaging plays a big part in ensuring the integrity and quality of your meat. Ideally, you would keep the meat in its original packaging, however you can also divide into portions if needed. Using a zip bag or vacuum pouch is the best way of freezing smaller and individual portions. The most important thing to consider is that the meat needs to be wrapped tightly with as little air as possible, also helping to avoid freezer burn!

For optimum freshness, make sure you freeze your meat on the day of purchase.

 

How to defrost your meat

Whether you’re defrosting cooked or raw meat, it’s best not to defrost at room temperature. Defrost fully in the fridge, at a temperature of 5 degrees or below, allowing enough time for your meat to defrost fully before cooking or consuming. Once it is fully defrosted produce should be treated as fresh and eaten within 24 hours.

Never cook your food while frozen, either partially or fully. Once you have fully defrosted your produce, never refreeze your produce and be sure to check the packaging of each product to ensure it hasn’t previously been frozen!

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