I've been managing complex issues with meat for quite some time now, and I've learned that keeping it fresh is crucial for my own health. One of the best ways to do that is by using freezer bags, and using them properly, whether sorting fresh meat or cooked.
This particular type of freezer bags is great because they were created specifically to protect your meat from getting freezer burn and to keep bacteria out, so that the meat stays safe to eat. The very first thing to consider when going freezer bag hunting is the material your bags are made of.
You want bags that are thick, durable, and able to withstand ultra-low temperatures. Ideally, look for bags made from polyethylene or polypropylene, as both are safe for food storage and won't break down in the freezer. Avoid bags made from PVC or vinyl, as these materials can release harmful chemicals when exposed to cold.
Another important factor is the size. You want bags that are large enough to hold your meat without overcrowding, but not so large that they retain excess air, which can lead to freezer burn that affects the quality and taste of your meat.
Pro-Tip: choose bags that are easy to label, so you can keep track of what's inside & when it was frozen.
Medical Disclaimer: as with everything on this site, this article is provided for information only.
- Why Proper Meat Handling Is Really Important
- Why Freezing Meat in Tupperware Is Not Ideal
- Choosing a Freezer Bag
- Best Freezer Storage Bags for Meat
- Best Types of Freezer Bags
- Safe Storage Time for Frozen Meat
Why Proper Meat Handling Is Really Important
Proper meat handling is essential in keeping meats fresh and safe to eat, as numerous bacterial and quality problems can arise if not done so properly, and histamine issues are just one piece of the puzzle. The FDA has some thorough food handling guidelines pertaining to meat, but below is an overview.
Prevents Foodborne Illnesses
Meat has the potential to host harmful bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, and listeria, which can lead to foodborne illnesses ranging from mild to severe. Properly handling meat can help minimize this risk by preventing bacterial contamination, as well as the proliferation of potential toxins created by those bacteria, such as histaminosis from fish, also known as histamine toxicity.
Maintains Meat Quality
On top of keeping you safe from harmful bacteria, proper handling can also preserve the quality of the meat. When meat is not handled and then stored correctly, it can become tough, dry, or develop an unpleasant flavor.
This is particularly concerning when it comes to freezing meat, as improper handling can cause freezer burn, which can alter the taste and texture of the meat, and can happen whether the meat is raw or cooked.
Reduces Food Waste
Proper meat handling can also help minimize food waste, in turn reducing unnecessary expenditure in your food budget. When meat is not stored correctly it can spoil rapidly, but by handling meat appropriately and storing it in freezer bags, you can prolong its shelf life and decrease the amount of unnecessary waste in your household.
Meat Handling Tips
To ensure that you are properly handling meat, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Always wash your hands before and after handling meat.
- Use separate cutting boards and utensils for meat and other foods to avoid cross-contamination.
- Store meat in the refrigerator or freezer within one to two hours of purchasing it.
- Use freezer bags specifically designed for meat storage to prevent freezer burn and extend shelf life.
- Label and date freezer bags to keep track of how long the meat has been frozen.
- Thaw meat in the refrigerator or under cold running water, never at room temperature.
Why Freezing Meat in Tupperware Is Not Ideal
Freezing meat in plastic bags is a common choice because of its convenience and affordability. However, there are several reasons why these aren’t the best option.
- Plastic bags are not the ideal option for freezing meat, as they're less sturdy compared to other freezer bags, making them prone to tearing and leaking. This can lead to freezer burn and cross-contamination.
- Plastic bags are also not generally airtight, causing freezer burn and affecting the taste and texture of the meat.
- Exposure to high temperatures can release harmful chemicals from plastic bags into your food, posing potential health risks.
- Plastic bags are not eco-friendly and can harm wildlife if not disposed of properly.
Choosing a Freezer Bag
Choosing the right freezer bag is crucial when it comes to storing meat in the freezer, so consider the following factors when selecting the most suitable freezer bag for your meat.
Freezer bags are commonly made of polyethylene or polypropylene. For storing meat, it's recommended to opt for polyethylene bags since they are more flexible and durable, though polypropylene bags are stiffer and can handle higher temperatures.
Picking a freezer bag that's right for the volume of meat you want to store is also important, as an oversized bag can cause freezer burn due to excess air inside. In contrast to this, an undersized bag can hinder the proper freezing of the meat, since you won't be able to close it all the way.
The thickness of the bag will also determine how well it protects the meat from freezer burn. Look for bags that are at least 2.5mm thick, as these will provide adequate enough protection for long-term storage.
Ensure that your meat freezer bags have a sturdy and airtight seal to prevent air from entering. Seek out bags with double zippers or a slider that produces a secure seal.
Best Freezer Storage Bags for Meat
Glad Zipper Food Storage Freezer Bags
Glad Zipper food storage freezer bags are an excellent option for storing meat in the freezer. One of the most significant advantages of these bags is their thick, sturdy plastic material, which helps prevent freezer burn. The thick plastic also helps protect the meat from freezer odors, ensuring that it stays fresh for longer.
Another benefit of these particular meat storage freezer bags is their double zipper seal. This seal is designed to keep air out and freshness in, ensuring that your meat stays fresh and safe for longer, but also makes it easy to open and close the bag, which is especially helpful when you need to quickly grab something from the freezer.
Glad Zipper food storage freezer bags are also available in a wide range of sizes, making it easy to find the perfect size for whatever meat you're storing.
Ziploc Freezer Bags
Ziploc freezer bags are another great option for storing meat in the freezer. Like Glad Zipper food storage freezer bags, Ziploc bags are made with thick, durable plastic to prevent freezer burn. This plastic material helps protect the meat from air and moisture, ensuring that it stays fresh for longer.
One of the unique features of Ziploc freezer bags is their Smart Zip Plus seal, designed to create an extra-tight seal for safer storage. The Smart Zip Plus seal also makes it easier to open and close the bags, which come in several different sizes.
SPLF Silicone Reusable Bags
SPLF silicone reusable bags are an excellent option for freezing meat, especially if you're looking for an eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags. These bags are made of food-grade silicone material, which is safe for storing meat as well as a sustainable choice that reduces waste.
One of the most significant benefits of Lemason silicone reusable bags is their durability. They're specifically designed to withstand freezing temperatures, and feature an airtight seal that helps prevent freezer burn and keeps meat fresh for longer.
Lemason silicone reusable bags are also easy to use and clean, as they're dishwasher safe and available in a range of sizes, making it easy to find the perfect size for your meat.
Hefty Slider Freezer Bags
Hefty's Slider freezer bags are another excellent bag for storing meat in the freezer. They're made from strong and durable plastic that effectively protects against freezer burn, while the slider seal design also ensures that opening and closing the bags is easy breezy.
One of the most significant benefits of Hefty Slider freezer bags is their versatility and variety of size, not to mention their affordability. They're also widely available, making them a great supermarket pick.
Stasher Reusable Silicone Bag Multi-Pack
The Stasher Reusable Silicone Bag Multi-Pack is another eco-friendly meat storage bag for the freezer. These bags are made of food-grade silicone material that's safe for storing meat and can be used multiple times, making them an environmentally-conscious choice.
Another benefit is their durability, as they're designed to withstand freezing temperatures, making them the ideal bags for storing meat in the freezer. Each one feature an airtight seal that helps prevent freezer burn and keeps meat fresher for longer, as well as being dishwasher safe, making them easy to clean after each use.
BONUS: Pyrex Simply Store 18-Piece Set
The Pyrex Simply Store 18-Piece Set is a great option if you prefer storing meat in glass containers over freezer bags. If your whole freezer is designed to be stackable, this option may appeal more to you than the piecemeal approach of using plastic freezer bags, not to mention that they're dishwasher safe.
These containers are made of durable glass that's safe for meat storage and comes with lids that keep air out and freshness in. One of the most significant benefits of these containers is their durability; they're made of tempered glass that can withstand extreme temperatures, making them ideal for storing meat in the freezer.
Best Types of Freezer Bags
Choosing the right freezer bag is crucial for preserving meat in the freezer. Below are some of the best types of freezer bags for storing meat.
Reusable Silicone Bags
Reusable silicone bags are a sustainable and long-lasting alternative for freezing meat. They're crafted from food-grade silicone, making them safe for freezer use, plus they're dishwasher-safe and can be reused multiple times, making them a cost-effective option despite the upfront cost.
Tempered Glass Containers With Airtight Lids
Another excellent alternative for freezing meat is tempered glass containers with airtight lids, like the ones covered above.
These containers are crafted from durable glass and include airtight lids that maintain the meat's freshness and prevent freezer burn, though be careful to wash your hands after using them if freezing raw meats. They are also both microwave and dishwasher-safe, so they’re easier to use and maintain.
Stainless steel containers are a robust and enduring choice for freezing meat. They are safe to use in the freezer and can be reused multiple times, plus they're dishwasher safe, making them effortless to clean and plastic-free.
Compostable parchment bags are an eco-friendly option for storing meat in the freezer. These bags, as the name suggests, are made of parchment paper and are biodegradable in the compost, making them a perfect choice for those who are environmentally conscious.
Safe Storage Time for Frozen Meat
Meat can still spoil over time, despite being in a frozen state, so it's essential to be aware of the safe storage duration for various types of meat. Here are some basic principles to consider:
- Ground meat: 3-4 months
- Whole poultry: 6-12 months
- Poultry parts: 9 months
- Beef, veal, pork, and lamb: 6-12 months
- Wild game: 8-12 months
These are just general guidelines, and the safe storage time can vary depending on the quality of the meat, the temperature of your freezer, and how well the meat is packaged.