Tips on Freezing and Thawing Meat

thawing meat

It’s always great to have some meat on hand in the freezer. It makes planning for meals easier, plus you can take advantage of purchasing when meats are on special.

There are a few things to consider when freezing meat, so here are a few tips:

  • Meat should be well trimmed, as fat can turn a bit rancid if it’s frozen for long periods of time.
  • Any ends of bones that could pierce the wrap should be covered with foil or plastic before packaging.
  • Label and date meat packages before freezing.
  • Frozen large cuts will keep better and longer than frozen smaller cuts.
  • Make sure temperatures don’t fluctuate by more than 0.5°C. Big temperature changes can mean a partial thaw which damages and changes the structure of the meat. This impacts on the quality when it’s cooked.
  • Meat that has been partially thawed in the fridge can be refrozen. It will be safe to eat, although it will have lost some of its original quality.
  • Never refreeze meat that has been thawed and held at room temperature.
  • Once cooked, frozen meat can be refrozen.

A quick guide on how long to freeze meat:

  • Bacon: 1 month
  • Sausages: 1-2 months
  • Fresh beef, lamb, pork steaks: 6-12 months
  • Fresh beef, lamb, pork chops: 4-6 months
  • Fresh beef, lamb, pork roasts: 4-12 months
  • Fresh poultry: 9 months

Thawing Meat

You have a freezer of meat and it’s now time to use it. The thawing process is just as important as the freezing process for food safety.

Thaw meat in the fridge rather than on the bench. This ensures a controlled, even thawing process, especially in the summer heat.

If placing raw meat, fish or poultry in the fridge, ensure it’s in a drip-proof dish, well-covered and placed in the bottom of the fridge so it doesn’t drop on other food.

Do not allow raw meat and fish to come into contact with other foods. Use separate chopping boards or thoroughly wash the one you are using with hot soapy water. Coloured boards are an ideal way of remembering which board is for what.

Don’t carve cooked meat on the board used to hold or cut raw meat unless you have washed it thoroughly before you cut the cooked meat.

Now you’re ready to cook your favourite dish – enjoy!