Freezing meat is an excellent way to take advantage of sale prices and keep a well-stocked kitchen. Having meat in the freezer makes it easy to prepare meals without taking a trip to the grocery store, and provides a sense of security if it is impossible to get out to the store.
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According to the United State Department of Agriculture, meat can be safely frozen for a nearly limitless period of time, although the quality will deteriorate as time passes. Some types of meat retain freshness longer than others. Any meat that smells bad after defrosting should be thrown away.
Detecting Freezer Burn
Freezer burn occurs when oxygen comes into contact with the surface of the food. While freezer burn does not make meat unsafe, it does create a tough texture and may decrease the quality of the flavor. On mildly freezer-burned meat, simply cut away the portions of meat that have freezer burn, either before or after cooking. Prevent freezer burn by storing meat in an airtight container and eating it within a few months of freezing.
Prepare Meat for Freezing
Meat can be frozen either raw or cooked. Freeze raw meat in small portions so it freezes quickly and prevents the growth of bacteria. Cool cooked meat in the fridge before freezing. Meat is safest when it is frozen quickly. Allow for plenty of space around the meat in the freezer until it has frozen all the way through. All meat loses some quality by being frozen, so start with fresh, high-quality meat so it has a good flavor and texture after it has been thawed.