Freezing Meat

Selecting High-Quality Meats:

Select fresh, high quality meats from a reputable butcher, meat packer or grocery store. Cured meats such as ham and bacon can only be frozen for a short period of time (1 to 3 months) because the salt in them hastens rancidity. Organ meats, like liver, tongue, heart, etc., may lose some of their texture during freezing.freezing guide

Preparing for Freezing:


Package meat in convenient, meal-size portions and remove as many bones as possible to save freezer space. Place two layers of freezer paper or wrap between slices or patties of meat so they are easier to separate when frozen and speed thawing. Large game like deer and moose can be frozen the same way as other meats. Small game should be skinned and dressed appropriately before freezing.

Suitable Packaging:

Package the meat in freezer paper or wrap, using either the drugstore or butcher wrap. Freezer bags or containers can be used for ground beef, stew beef or other meats frozen in small portions. Store-bought meats need to be wrapped with additional protection. The clear packaging they normally come packaged in does not provide sufficient moisture-vapor resistant protection for freezing.


Meats from a meat packer should come in heavy-duty wrapping, but double check to make sure. If it does, it will not require additional wrapping. Make sure the wrapping is sealed tightly and labeled.

Maximum Storage Time:

If possible, meat should be left in its original packaging when frozen and wrapped again in vapor resistant heavyweight plastic wrap, foil, freezer paper or freezer-grade plastic bags.

Meat TypeRefrigeratorFreezer (0ºF)
Bacon2 weeks1 month
Corned Beef5 to 7 days1 to 2 months
Canned Meat3 to 4 days*3 to 4 months
Chops, Pork & Lamb3 to 5 days4 to 8 months
Cooked Meat2 to 3 days2 to 3 months
Frankfurters3 to 5 days*1 to 2 months
Ground Meats & Stew Meat1 to 2 days3 to 4 months
Ham, Canned1 week*3 to 4 months
Ham, Fully Cooked2 weeks3 to 4 months
Lunch Meat3-5 days*1 month
Pickled Meats (vinegar)2 weeks*
Roasts, Beef, Bison & Pork3 to 5 days9 to 12 months
Sausage (fresh)1 to 2 days1 to 2 months
Sausage, Breakfast Patties/Links1 week2 months
Sausage, Smoked1 week1 to 2 months
Sausage, Summer2 to 3 weeks*6 months
Small Game (rabbits, squirrels, etc.)2 days9 to 12 months
Steaks, Beef & Bison3 to 5 days6 to 12 months
Tofu4 to 5 days6 to 8 weeks
Variety Meats1 to 2 days3 to 4 months
Veal1 to 2 days4 to 6 months
Venison (ground)1 to 2 days2 to 3 months
Venison (steaks, roasts)3 to 5 days9 to 12 months

* opened


All meats should be thawed in their packaging in the refrigerator. For microwave defrosting, remove packaging and refer to your manufacturers recommendations for settings. If meat is in a waterproof package and you need it quickly, run it under cold water or submerge it in a cold water bath for faster thawing.

Tips & Shortcuts:

Freezing tends to damage the texture of organ meats like live, heart, brains, tongue, and kidneys. If freezing these meats is necessary, trim all excess fat, wrap in an airtight package and freeze as rapidly as possible.

Refrigerating Meat:

Ideally, meat should be stored in its original package. Once it has been opened, it is necessary to rewrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil, or pack it in an airtight container.


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April 30, 20050 found this helpful

When buying meats, especially with summer barbequeing season approaching, utilize sales. Buy extra and use freezer paper and freezer tape to save extras. 1/4 the cost of expensive freezer papers and no freezer burn!


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May 1, 20050 found this helpful

Buy in bulk and then wrap in plastic wrap (cheap stuff works just as well as "name brand") to cover ALL of the meat, NO air pockets, then wrap in freezer paper. Label and freeze. If you miss a spot then there will be air on the meat and you will get freezer burn on that spot.


Meat wrapped this way can stay good in the freezer for 3 or 4 years.

Note: the more fat in the meat the less time in the freezer it will stay fresh. For example: pork tastes old faster than venison...more fat throughout the pork.

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May 4, 20050 found this helpful

Don't forget to write the date on your packaging! - I use sandwich bags and have meat and leftovers from months ago...(note to oneself...must have a clean out soon!!!)

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By JC (Guest Post)
August 24, 20070 found this helpful

Um... what about chicken? It's not on the table...

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By gerald powers (Guest Post)
April 28, 20080 found this helpful

Can sausage be refrozen?

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By paul. (Guest Post)
June 20, 20080 found this helpful

How safe is it to re-freeze thawed meat?

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By nancy (Guest Post)
February 15, 20090 found this helpful

Hi There!
My elderly mother complained to me about a roast I recently bought her (cost $17.00 dollars) When I brought it to her, fresh from the Dillons Supermarket, she immediately cut it in half & put it unwrapped into her freezer. When she went to prepare it- she said it was very very tough! She said she cooked it in a crockpot all day. I bought the very same roast for myself, since it was a buy one get one free. I put my roast in freezer in original packaging, then put in my crockpot for 8 hours.


It was very very tender.

My mother complained to me about the quality of meat I had bought her. But, I think it was due to with the way she just out it into the freezer without wrapping it! I would like to be able to tell her with knowledge how she should store her meats. I need some help with this conflict, or I will not buy her anymore meat to destroy! Please help me with the answer to this. If I am wrong I'd like to know! Thanks! Nancy

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

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