Jun 17 , 2020
By Monica Stockbridge, Frontière Natural Meats
As we cope with the continuing effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic, many of us have been cooking at home a lot more than usual. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, it’s an opportunity to try new recipes, experiment with new flavors, and stock the kitchen with some high-quality ingredients — including natural and organic meats.
Yet, shopping and cooking look a little different these days than they used to. Lots of people are buying in bulk and shopping less often. Some of us are even reorganizing our pantries and ordering dedicated freezers to store all our goods.
Here are some tips for safely stocking your freezer.
Shop for quality ingredients
Great dishes start with great ingredients. This includes choosing everything from produce and spices to cheeses and meats. Think about what types of ingredients are most important to you and your family, and how you will choose to allocate your grocery budget.
Frontière Natural Meats sells high-quality, free-range and hormone-free meats online and in stores like Albertson’s, Kroger, and Safeway. The online selection offers plenty of options, such as beef, bison and elk sold as steaks, ground meats and even breakfast sausage. Many options are even organic. Shopping for Frontière Natural Meats products is one way to ensure you’re getting high-quality, dependable protein options for your family. Learn more about the shipping process here.
Make sure meat is well sealed
Before putting any food away in the freezer, it’s important to make sure it’s well sealed. This helps prevent freezer burn. Freezer burn happens when food is not properly sealed and becomes exposed to air. It can cause dry spots and textural issues, but won’t affect the safety of the meat overall.
If you buy meat at the store in a styrofoam container, be sure to remove it and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or in a freezer-safe bag instead. Better yet, vacuum seal your meat to remove all the air before freezing. Frontière Natural Meats products always come vacuum sealed, so you can put them straight into the freezer after buying.
Store meat on the bottom shelf
Just like you would in the refrigerator, store raw meat on the bottom shelves of the freezer rather than the top. In the event of a power outage, you don’t want meat juices dripping down and contaminating items like frozen fruit or ice cream. Instead, stash the meat on the bottom shelf.
Use the FIFO method
Additionally, it helps to store your meat by the “first-in, first-out” or FIFO method. That means that older meats should be pulled to the front to be consumed first, and newer meat should be stored in the back. This way, you won’t accidentally bury a steak in the freezer and forget all about it.
Use meat in a timely manner
According to FoodSafety.gov, most frozen meats are best used within a matter of months. Ground meats should be used within three or four months, while steaks last up to a year in the freezer with no ill effects.
Note, however, that these guidelines only have to do with quality — not safety. Frozen foods held in the freezer at 0 °F or below can be kept indefinitely. Storing longer may affect the taste or texture of the meat, but won’t compromise its safety.
Defrost meat properly
When you’re ready to pull a few steaks from the freezer to grill this weekend, be careful about how you defrost them. The best way is to move them directly from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost in a controlled cold environment. Never defrost meats on the counter. Bacteria can find its way onto foods if it sits in the “danger zone,” meaning anywhere between 40 °F and 140 °F, for more than two hours.
You can also thaw meat by submerging the sealed container in cold water and replacing the water every 30 minutes. Microwaving is another method and probably the fastest. The meat should be cooked immediately after defrosting by either of these methods. Find more information at https://www.fsis.usda.gov/.
Storing meat in a freezer is a great way to plan ahead and have healthy, high-quality choices available for months to come. If you have any questions about how to store or defrost meat, feel free to contact us.
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