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Russell's Butchers

Freezing & Defrosting 101 – Preserving Your Meat Cuts

During these unprecedented times, you might find yourself ordering that little bit extra to tide you and the family over until your next shopping trip, and because of this, you may wish to freeze some of your purchases until they’re needed. Below is our basic freezing/defrosting guide to help you preserve your meats safely and get the most out of your shopping budget.

Freezing meat is a safe & reliable way of preserving the freshness of the said product, it elongates shelf life & it’s very easy.

Upon Delivery

  1. As soon as your order from us arrives that no packaging is damaged.
  2. If the packaging has rips or tears, transfer to a new sealable freezer bag/pouch, or wrap in plastic wrap. 
  3. 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.
  4. Your freezer should be set at minus 18°c, a separate probe is a good way to confirm the temperature is accurate.
  5. 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 a whole turkey)
  6. Place the item on a flat tray and place in the bottom of the fridge to defrost gently
  7. Before cooking the items must be thoroughly defrosted (meat soft to touch)
  8. Remove from the packaging, pat any excess moisture away and prepare to cook following your chosen recipe.

What Can I Freeze?

Any raw meat cut (including poultry) can be frozen if it’s within the use-by-date, but only if it hasn’t been previously frozen in its raw state.

Similarly, cooked meat can be frozen if it’s within the use-by-date, and not having previously been frozen.

When deciding to freeze, we recommend freezing the product on the day of purchase to help preserve the quality of the product.

Can Warm Food Be Frozen?

Cooked food can be frozen, but food must be cool before wrapping and freezing.

Preparing Meat For The Freezer

The most effective way to freeze your meat cuts is in small and/or individual portions. For example, wrapping each steak separately or using one zip bag per cut. Whether you use a freezer bag or plastic wrap, ensure the meat is fully wrapped with as little air as possible near to the surface of the product. 

Does Freezing Kill Bacteria?

No. This is actually a common misunderstanding, as most types of bacteria can survive freezing temperatures but merely ‘are put to sleep’ while the product is frozen. You can think of it as ‘hitting the pause button’ until the food begins to defrost. The warmer the temperature, the more active bacteria will become.

The ‘Danger Zone’

This is a term coined to explain food-safe temperatures. Bacteria will grow at temperatures above 8°C and below 63°C. This is why food should be defrosted in the fridge overnight, to avoid your meat going slightly over into that danger zone.

Defrosting Raw Meat

Do not defrost at room temperature. Remove the meat from the freezer and immediately place in a fridge (ideally set to 5°C or below) until defrosted. Leave plenty of time for the food to defrost fully e.g. a 7kg turkey can take up to 4 days.

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.

Defrosting Cooked Meat

Do not defrost at room temperature. Remove the meat from the freezer and immediately place in a fridge (ideally set to 5°C or below) until defrosted. Leave plenty of time for the food to defrost fully e.g. a 7kg turkey can take up to 4 days.

Make sure your food is fully defrosted before consuming. Once defrosted, eat within 24 hours.

Can I Defrost In A Microwave?

The use of a microwave oven to defrost meat can be done, although it’s 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 I Cook Frozen Meat?

No. Allow your meat to full defrost before cooking, to ensure an evenly cooked product.

Can I 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.

How Long Can I Freeze Meat For?

We recommend freezing meat for a maximum of three months to ensure quality. The meat will not turn bad in the freezer but taste & texture may deteriorate

How Long Can I Keep Defrosted Goods?

We recommend eating fully defrosted products within 24 hours.

Can I Still Eat Meat With Freezer Burn?

Freezer burn appears as greyish/brown spots on frozen food & can be easily trimmed away. This happens when frozen meat has been damaged by dehydration and oxidation, due to air reaching the food – 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 a better taste.

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