Meat can be safely stored for several weeks, months or even years. The most obvious way is to store the meat in the freezer. However, there are other ways of storing meat, and some of them have been used for more than 1000 years.
- Prepare the meat for freezing. To prevent a cold burn during freezing, the meat should be properly prepared and packaged before being placed in the freezer.
- Meat and poultry can be frozen in packaging from the store, but make sure that it is tightly wound and that air does not enter the package. Use plastic bags or aluminum foil designed for use in the freezer (you will see a label on the package) to wrap the meat.
- Use a vacuum packaging tool to completely remove air. Vacuum tools come in various types, models and price categories; you will need special bags (sold separately) for storing products.
- Use airtight containers that are suitable for the freezer.
- Use tight wraps such as aluminum foil, plastic bags, and freezer bags.
- Before freezing, remove as many bones as possible, since they take up a lot of space and contribute to the development of a frost burn.
- Put paper for the freezer between the slices of meat or burgers, so that later it is easier to separate them from each other.
Know how long you can safely store frozen meat. You cannot store meat forever in the freezer.
- Raw meat (e.g. steaks or chops) can be safely stored in the freezer for 4-12 months.
- Raw minced meat is safely stored for only 3-4 months.
- Cooked meat can be stored for 2-3 months.
- Sausages, ham, and frozen dinners can be stored for 1-2 months.
- Poultry (cooked or raw) can be stored for 3 to 12 months.
Make sure the temperature maintained in the freezer is -18 degrees C or lower.
Be sure to label all containers and packages. You should know what is in your freezer and how much it is there.
The labels should indicate the type of meat (chicken breast, steak, minced meat and so on), whether it is raw or cooked, as well as the date of freezing.
To help you find products later, it’s best to divide them into groups. For example, separately lay chicken, beef, pork, etc.
First, consume older products so that they do not deteriorate and you do not have to throw them away.
Use an electric freezer to store meat. This is one of the easiest ways to preserve meat.
You can use the freezer of your refrigerator or a separate one.
Stand-alone freezers are much larger than the freezer section of a refrigerator.
Keep in mind that stand-alone freezers consume a lot of electricity, so your electricity bills will be larger if you use a refrigerator and a freezer at the same time. Electricity charges depend on the size and model of the freezer.
If you do not have an electric freezer, use a cooler. Coolers can be used anywhere since they are not powered by electricity.
You can use the cooler on a camping trip or during a power outage.
You need to fill the cooler with ice to keep it cold.
Place a piece of ice down the refrigerator/ cooler , put the meat on top and cover it with plenty of ice.
Make sure the meat is surrounded by ice for complete even freezing.
When using a cooler, you need to monitor the melting of the ice and regularly add new ice so that the meat does not thaw.
Learn how to defrost meat properly. Proper defrosting will help reduce the risk of food poisoning.
- Defrost meat in the refrigerator. Plan ahead in advance, as it will take 24 hours to thaw a large piece of meat, such as a whole turkey carcass.
- Defrost meat in cold water (in sealed packaging). Change the water every 30 minutes until the meat is completely thawed.
- You can defrost meat in the microwave, but in this case you will need to cook it right away. In the microwave, the meat thaws unevenly and the cooking process of some of its sections may begin prematurely.
- Before cooking, pay attention to frostbitten areas. The meat may discolor due to frostbite, which does not necessarily make it inedible. Cut off the frostbitten parts before cooking.
- Be prudent. Do not eat meat or poultry if it looks or smells bad.
Salted meat storage
- Sprinkle the meat with salt. This is another old way of storing meat.
- Use salt with sodium nitrite.
- Place the pieces of meat in an airtight container (or plastic bags) and completely cover the meat with salt. It will be correct to lay the meat in layers and sprinkle them with salt, so that all pieces are guaranteed to be covered with it.
- Store containers (bags) in a cool place (at a temperature of 2-4 degrees C) for a month. Do not freeze.
- Determine how long you can store meat in salt using this formula: 7 days for every 2.5 cm layer of salt. So, for example, 5.5 – 6 kg of ham 13 cm wide can be stored in salt for 35 days.
- Meat in salt can be stored for 3-4 months in sealed packaging without refrigeration.
- Before cooking, rinse off excess salt.
Meat drying (dehydration)
- Cook the jerky yourself. This can be done at home with a stove and oven.
- Cut the meat across into narrow 1×1 cm strips.
- Boil pieces of meat for 3-5 minutes to get rid of bacteria.
- Remove the meat from the water and dry it.
- Bake meat in the oven at the lowest temperature for 8-12 hours.
- You can use a dryer instead of an oven.
- Properly dried meat will be slightly sticky, stiff or crusty.
- In this form, meat can be stored for 1-2 months in an airtight container without being cooled.
Smoked meat. Smoking also gives the meat a flavor.
- Sprinkle meat with salt before smoking to extend shelf life.
- Place the meat in the smokehouse for 7 hours at a temperature of 62 degrees C or for 4 hours at a temperature of 69 degrees C. Do not set the temperature above 69 degrees, otherwise you will get hot smoking, not cold.
- Some pieces of meat may be smoked longer. Just for example, it takes 22 hours for the brisket to fully smoke.
- Use a meat thermometer to make sure the meat is at the right temperature. Poultry should reach a temperature of 74 degrees C, pork and minced meat – 71 degrees C, steaks, roasts and meatballs should be 63 degrees C.
- Smokers operate on gas, electricity, coal or wood.
- Add some firewood from cherry, walnut or oak tree to give the meat a flavor.
- Smoked meat can be stored in airtight containers for 1-2 months.
- Use appropriate conservation tools. Make sure you have cans and glass jars for canning.
- Use a household autoclave to be able to regulate pressure during the canning process.
- Use high quality tin cans.
- Hot steam under high pressure seals and sterilizes meat in cans.
- Fill the autoclave with 2.5-5 cm water.
- Start the preservation process when the pressure gauge reaches the desired level.
- After the process is complete, remove the device from the fire and allow it to cool.
- Do not open the autoclave until it has completely cooled and opens naturally. Forced cooling with running water can lead to spoilage and curvature of the lid.
- Such meat can be stored up to a year in a cool, dry place.
Poultry preservation. Use either the hot or raw method.
- Hot method. Boil, steam or bake the meat until not fully cooked. If necessary, add one teaspoon of salt per a liter jar. Fill the jar with chicken slices and hot broth, leaving 0.6 – 2.5 cm of space.
- Raw method. If necessary, add 1 teaspoon of salt in a jar. Loosely fill the jars with raw pieces of meat, leaving 0.6 – 2.5 cm of space. Do not add fluid.
- You can leave the bones or take them out.
- This method is also suitable for rabbit meat.
- The larger the jar, the higher pressure you will need.
- The process will take from 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the amount of meat.
Preserve minced meat. Use fresh chilled meat.
- Form pies or balls out of minced meat. Fry until golden brown.
- You can also fry minced meat without forming it into balls.
- Strain the minced meat before canning to excess fat stack.
- Fill the jar with minced meat.
- Add boiling meat broth, tomato juice or water, leaving 2.5 cm of free space. Add 2 teaspoons of salt per liter jar if desired.
- Conservation time will take from 75 to 90 minutes.
Preserve strips, slices or pieces of meat.
- First remove all the bones.
- The hot method is best here.
- Pre-process the meat by smoking, stewing or frying in a small amount of oil.
- If necessary, add a teaspoon of salt in a liter jar.
- Fill the jar with slices of meat and pour meat broth, water or tomato juice, leaving 2.5 cm of free space.
- Conservation time will take from 75 to 90 minutes.
Remember the risk of poisoning in case of wrong storage.