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Why freeze meat?
What is freezer burn?
Does freezing kill bacteria/germs?
The ‘Danger Zone’
The best way to prepare meat for the freezer
Vacuum machines
What meat can we freeze?
Can we freeze warm food?
The best way to defrost raw meat
The best way to defrost cooked meat
Microwave ovens
Can we cook meat whilst frozen?
Can we refreeze meat?
Can we freeze cooked meats?
How long can we keep meat defrosted before cooking?
Basic rules for freezing & defrosting your Farmison & Co products


Introduction

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.


Why freeze meat?

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.


What is freezer burn?

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.


Does freezing kill bacteria/germs?

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.


The ‘Danger Zone’

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.


The best way to prepare meat for the freezer

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.


Vacuum machines

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.

https://www.bestadvisers.co.uk/vacuum-sealers


What meat can we freeze?

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.


Can we freeze warm food?

No is the simple answer to that, make sure food is cool before wrapping & freezing.


The best way to defrost raw meat

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.


The best way to defrost cooked meat

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 consuming. Once food has been defrosted, eat it within 24 hours.


Microwave ovens

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.  


Can we cook meat whilst frozen?

No, it’s imperative that the meat is fully defrosted prior to cooking to ensure a safe & evenly cooked product.


Can we refreeze meat?

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.


Can we freeze cooked meats?

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).

Once the food is defrosted, the pause button is “off”. So you will need to eat the food within 24 hours.


How long can we keep meat defrosted before cooking?

24 hours is the recommended time once the meat is fully defrosted before cooking.


Basic rules for freezing & defrosting your Farmison & Co products
  1. On delivery of your fresh F&Co products ensure the label is intact and the packaging is not damaged
  2. If the packaging is damaged transfer to a new sealable freezer pouch, gently easing out as much excess air as possible before sealing the products. Then ensure the new pouch is relabelled. If you are splitting a batch of products each package should be relabelled and the date the product is frozen wrote onto the pouch
  3. If freezing the goods as they arrive mark the package with a indelible marker pen with the date you are freezing the products on
  4. F&Co suggest freezing produce for a maximum of 3 months, this is to ensure quality. The meat will not turn bad in the freezer but taste & texture may deteriorate
  5. When placing goods in the freezer place towards the bottom of the freezer, rotating any older produce and make sure there are no heavy items sat on the product
  6. Your freezer should be set at minus 18°c, a separate probe is a good way to confirm the temperature is accurate
  7. Prior to cooking your products you must remove the items from the freezer a minimum of 24 hours before use (2 days for joints between 1 & 4 kilos then up to 4 days for larger joints such as whole turkey)
  8. Place the item on a flat tray and place in the bottom of the fridge to defrost gently
  9. Before cooking the items must be thoroughly defrosted (meat soft to touch)
  10. Remove from the packaging, pat any excess moisture away and prepare to cook following your chosen recipe

Remember:

  1. Never defrost in warm areas such as on or near a radiator or in direct sunlight
  2. Never defrost in warm or hot water
  3. Never defrost items placed above cooked or ready to eat produce
  4. Never freeze meat which is out of date