4 ways to freeze meat and keep the flavour

Follow these tips to lock in the flavour and nutritional value of meats when you freeze them.

4 ways to freeze meat and keep the flavour

1. Flash freeze for flavour

  • The best way to freeze meat and fish is to flash-freeze at -26°C, then store at -18°C.
  • Most chest-style freezers can reach -26°C, but some upright models may not.
  • Set your freezer's control to its coldest setting several hours before using it to flash-freeze, and move to one side any food already in the freezer.
  • Try to leave about 0.3 metres cubed (one cubic foot) of freezer space for every kilogram (about two pounds) of meat or fish to be flash-frozen.
  • When loading the freezer, make sure none of the unfrozen packages touches any of the already frozen food.
  • When all the food is hard frozen, return the control to normal (-18°C).

2. Proper packaging slows spoilage

  • Chill meat or fish before you freeze it to make it easier to cut and package and to decrease the chance of spoiling other food in the freezer.
  • To help prevent oxidization and possible rancidity in fish, freeze rapidly then dip in cold water. Let the water freeze into an "ice glaze." Repeat the process before bagging.
  • Using high-density polythene bags (freezer bags), wrap all pieces of meat and ice-glazed fish securely and individually. This prevents freezer burn and odour contamination.
  • Remove the air with a handheld freezer pump and seal with freezer tape.
  • A more convenient option is to ask your local meat retailer to vacuum pack your meat products.
  • Label each package with the type and cut of meat or fish and the date of freezing.

3. Don't leave meat frozen for too long

  • Meat will deteriorate if it's left in the freezer too long. The fat begins to oxidize, first producing "off" flavours before going rancid.
  • Cured meats, such as ham and bacon, and very fatty meats, like sausages, shouldn't be kept frozen for more than a month.
  • Minced meat, stewing meat, pork chops, liver and kidneys can generally be left frozen for up to three months.
  • Steak, chops, fish and baking or roasting cuts will last as long as six months.

4. How to thaw meat and fish

  • To thaw frozen food, place it in the refrigerator, still in its sealed package, and let it warm gradually.
  • For quick thawing, run cold water over the package of food.
  • To thaw meat in a microwave oven, follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • You can cook frozen meat without thawing by allowing extra cooking time.
  • Once meat or fish has fully thawed, it should not be refrozen.

Freezing is a quick and easy way to preserve the nutritional value and flavour of fresh meat and fish. Be sure to package it properly before flash freezing, and use it before it goes off.

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