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It is a subject that causes confusion to many; Which foods are safe to freeze? How long can you keep something in the freezer for? Should you freeze food when raw or cooked? To help answer these burning questions, we've compiled a guide to help you safely freeze and defrost your meat.
Studies have found that over one third of people believe food could become unsafe in the freezer, and nearly half thought food can only be frozen on the day of purchase.
Food waste is an ever growing issue in todays economy. It's believed seven million tonnes of food is wasted each year in the UK, with a high percentage of this being meat; therefore understanding the benefits of freezing can help alleviate at least some of that amount.
Freezing meat is a safe & reliable way of preserving the freshness of the said product, it elongates shelf life & its very easy.
In essence the meat when frozen correctly is like pressing the 'pause button' , meat will not go bad in the freezer though the quality may be affected, primarily through freezer burn.
Remember once the meat is removed from the freezer the 'pause button' is switched off & the produce is subject to bacteria growth.
Freezer burn is when frozen meat has been damaged by dehydration and oxidation, due to air reaching the food. This is usually caused by the meat not being correctly wrapped when placed in the freezer or the wrapping damaged whilst inside the freezer. the meat is still edible though trimming away the freezer burn will give better taste.
Freezer burn appears as greyish/brown spots on frozen food & can be easily trimmed away.
No, this is a common misunderstanding. Most types of bacteria survive freezing, they simply go to sleep while the product is frozen, due to the low temperature and lack of available water.
Frozen food will, therefore, keep indefinitely. Although the taste or texture of the food can deteriorate over time due to ice crystal damage.
When food defrosts, its core temperature rises and water becomes available, providing the ideal conditions for bacteria to grow.
Remember the warmer the temperature, the more active bacteria become.
This is a term adopted to safe food temperatures, bacteria will grow at temperatures above 8°C and below 63°C - this is known as the 'Danger Zone' for microbial growth. That's why we advise that the safest way to defrost food is in the fridge overnight. By defrosting in the fridge, your food should never enter the 'Danger Zone'. Your fridge should be at 5°C or below, some bacteria can grow at temperatures lower than 8°C.
Freezing in small or individual portions is the most effective way of freezing, for example wrap steaks as individual items then pop into a zip bag or vacuum pouch, this will both freeze quickly & save time defrosting & help control food waste.
The meat needs to be fully wrapped with as little air as possible near to the surface of the product, the best way to do this is using a vacuum machine (see below) though tightly wrapped in film then put into a zip bag works well.
Purchasing a vacuum sealer will help with quality when freezing both raw or cooked meats, however its imperative there's no cross contamination between cooked & raw foods, the governing body states that separate machines should be used for cooked or raw meat products, here are some great machines that are easy to use, at varying price points.
Raw meat including poultry can be frozen if it's within the use by date so long as the product has not previously been frozen in its raw state.
Cooked meat again can be frozen if its within the use by date & not previously frozen
We recommend freezing meat on day of purchase, this will help preserve the quality of the product.
No is the simple answer to that, make sure food is cool before wrapping & freezing.
Don't defrost meat at room temperature. Ideally, defrost fully in the fridge which is set at 5°C or below . If this isn't possible, use a microwave on the defrost setting directly before cooking. Check the guidance on food packaging and allow enough time for your food to defrost properly. Large items, such as a 6-7kg turkey, can take up to 4 days to defrost fully in the fridge.
Make sure your food is fully defrosted before cooking. Partially defrosted food may not cook evenly, meaning that harmful bacteria could survive the cooking process. Once food has been defrosted, eat it within 24 hours.
Whether you are defrosting turkey for Christmas or lamb for Easter, it is never a good idea to defrost meat at room temperature. Ideally, defrost fully in the fridge which is set at 5°C or below . If this isn't possible, use a microwave on the defrost setting directly before cooking. Check the guidance on food packaging and allow enough time for your food to defrost properly. Large items, such as a 6-7kg turkey, can take up to 4 days to defrost fully in the fridge.
Make sure your food is fully defrosted before consuming. Once food has been defrosted, eat it within 24 hours.
The use of a microwave oven to defrost meat is a accepted though we choose not to use this method, if using a microwave its vital you follow the manufacturer's instructions fully on how to defrost.
Remember the product must not enter the 'danger zone' & we recommend the product is used straight away.
No, it's imperative that the meat is fully defrosted prior to cooking to ensure a safe & evenly cooked product.
We advise foods can't be refrozen if they are fully or only partially defrosted, unless they are first cooked.
If the food has been defrosted it must be cooked before being eaten.
Once defrosted, foods should be treated as if they are fresh and consumed within 24 hours.
Yes, it's perfectly safe to freeze cooked meats, this includes meats and meals cooked from previously cooked and frozen meat (i.e. your roast chicken leftovers, cooked turkey, cooked pork, cooked beef, cooked sausages).
Once the food is defrosted, the pause button is "off". So you will need to eat the food within 24 hours.
24 hours is the recommended time once the meat is fully defrosted before cooking.
Yes you can. Wrap the chicken tightly with a clear labelled date and defrost in the fridge and consume within 24 hours. Cooked chicken can be frozen for up to 6 months but we would recommend no more than 3 months.