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Extending Freezer Life

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Right now I use zip lock bags to wrap meat in the freezer. I get about 6 months and then they start getting funky. What can I do to extend it and how long can that be?

jb

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  1. If you have room and budget for a vacuum sealer, I highly recommend getting one.

    1. Have you checked the temperature of your freezer? Sounds like it may not be cold enough.

      4 Replies
      1. re: janniecooks

        I disagree with janniecooks, unless you are referring to a chest freezeer. I would not expect bagged meat in the oft-opened freezer compartment of a kitchen refrigerator to last more than 6 months, if that. Ground beef is especially prone to freezer burn in the latter circumstance.

        A vacuum sealer does a good job. The cheapy battery-op ones don't work as reliably as the regular, more expensive models.

        Without a vacuum sealer, you need to wrap carefully. Tightly wrap meat, poultry, or fish in freezer paper or butcher paper (available in the supermarket, wrap with shiny side contacting the meat) , folding over the edges and ends and taping them closed. Then put that into a freezer zipper bag which you close around a drinking straw. Suck out the air and pinch the straw as you sim ultaneously pull out the straww and finish zipping the bag.

        For ground meats, do any of the above, or pack tightly into a freezer container, filling it completely so there's no airspace once freezing expands the volume.

        Recent similar thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7320...

        1. re: greygarious

          sheesh! all I suggested was to check the freezer temp - what's to disagree with that? my post says nothing about how long anything should/would keep in the freezer.

          1. re: janniecooks

            Since the OP says s/he gets 6 months from frozen meat before it degrades, the freezer temperature is not the problem.

        2. re: janniecooks

          It freezes meat rock hard so I can't imagine it's not cold enough.

        3. Make sure you're sucking all the air out of the ziplocks before you seal them. Actual freezer bags can help. Wrapping the bagged meat in butcher paper can also make a slight difference. But none of those things will extend the life of frozen meat substantially beyond six months.

          A vacuum sealer will make a huge, huge difference -- I've kept vacuum-sealed chickens for a year with no loss in quality or freezer burn. Also, a chest freezer, which can get far colder than the freezer attached to your fridge, will help meat keep longer. I got a tiny chest freezer for the garage and it's the best food investment I've made maybe ever.

          1. Here's something you might try as an experiment. I haven't tried it but it's been kicking around my head to try.

            If you don't have a vacuum sealer, try adding some water to the meat (except for ground beef). The idea is to form a thin layer of ice in the ziploc. What I'm thinking is the thin layer of ice will protect the meat from drying out (freezer burn).

            Will this work? Just a theory.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dave_c

              My fishmonger tells me to do that with seafood.

              Wrap a piece of fish (e.g. filet) in saran wrap. Fill a ziploc bag with water, drop the wrapped fish into the bag, seal, then freeze.

              Supposedly freezing the fish in a block of ice helps preserves its freshness.

            2. Try wrapping your meat in saran wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil, and then put it in a ziploc bag and freeze.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ipsedixit

                When America's Test Kitchen tested plastic wraps, they determined that Glad's is the least air-permeable. So that's worth a try if you are going the plastic route.

              2. This is what got me thinking "Completely apart from the beef itself, you get the ability to decide how the animal is cut and wrapped. Oxtails, offal meats, sweetbreads, shin, all is possible if you know what to ask for. Freezer life is extended by years over the crappy supermarket job, and you have basically the entire animal to choose from when you reach into your freezer."

                It's from this thread. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6844...

                I've never heard of keeping meat in your freezer for years. Wondered if there was a common way that everyonme else knew about. Hopefully he'll come back and asnwer.

                I have thought about getting a vaccum sealer. Sometimes there are sales on really good cuts and with only two of us at the dinner table it will go to waste (or is that waist). I have also recently considered raising some chickens, but there again If they won't keep well in the freezer it doesn't make sense.

                jb

                3 Replies
                1. re: JuniorBalloon

                  There used to be businesses that would offer big buy meat purchases that often came with a free chest freezer when you signed up for a year's worth of frozen food. As with those deliveries, custom-ordering a whole or half animal means receiving vacuum-sealed cuts. But those sealers do a better job than what you would commonly buy for home use. Check the threads on the Cookware board. And of course you need a chest freezer.

                  1. re: JuniorBalloon

                    When you get an animal custom butchered, they vacuum seal it for you. It's the vacuum sealing that does it. Butchers use super-heavy duty vacuum sealer bags and strong machines, but the home-use bags you can get with a sealer machine will also preserve meat in the freezer for a good long time.

                    1. re: petrelline

                      "When you get an animal custom butchered, they vacuum seal it for you. It's the vacuum sealing that does it."

                      I wonder if this particular way of handling might be specific to certain areas. The many (successful) hunters in our family have their harvested deer, elk, birds, fish, etc. custom butchered and the cuts come double-wrapped in butchers paper, with the outer layer taped shut. This meat lasts literally for years in the freezer, unscathed.

                      The only things that do come vac-paked are the smoked and/or cured items, such as fish, jerky or dried sausages. We're in SW WA state.