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Defrosting and Storing Meat

Your box has arrived, and you’ve got a few weeks’ worth of frozen meat, and if you’re not used to shopping for frozen products, the next steps can be intimidating.


Your truLOCAL box has arrived at your door (and if not, now is a great time to order one!) – but now what? You’ve got a few weeks’ worth of frozen meat, and if you’re not used to shopping for frozen products, the next steps can be intimidating.


Storage

Before anything else, your products should be placed in your freezer. For optimal storage, try placing flatter items like bacon on the bottom, and more abnormally shaped packages like chicken wings on the top to keep things organized and prevent items from falling out as you make regular use of your freezer. Your freezer’s temperature should be set to -0.4˚F or lower.


truLOCAL products come to you flash frozen and in vacuum sealed packaging. What does that mean? Flash freezing describes the process where a piece of meat is frozen instantly, keeping the flavor and texture the cut had at the time of freezing intact. When a piece of raw meat is put in a normal freezer, it reaches a frozen state slowly over a period of several hours, which allows ice crystals to form between the muscle fibres, resulting in a loss of flavor and texture. Freezing this way can also contribute to freezer burn, which happens when a frozen food item has too much exposure to oxygen. Vacuum sealed products can stay in the freezer for up to a year without risking freezer burn – and because they’re flash frozen, when you thaw them, they’ll taste just as great as the day they were frozen.


If you’re storing meat products in the fridge to eat soon, it’s important to make sure your fridge temperature is at least 39˚F or lower to ensure your product stays out of the food temperature danger zone of 39˚F-140˚F. If food is left within the temperature danger zone, harmful bacteria can multiply quickly, which can lead to a greater chance of illness such as food poisoning. Beef, pork, and lamb can remain in the fridge uncooked for 2-4 days and poultry for 2-3 days. Shellfish last up to 24 hours uncooked, where lean or fatty fish (salmon, cod, etc.) can last for 3-4 days before being cooked and consumed.


Defrosting

Though there are a few exceptions to the rule, for a majority of our products, we recommend thawing before cooking. Why is that? For most pieces of meat, when you cook them from frozen, you risk overcooking the outside while leaving the middle within the temperature danger zone. You might also compromise the texture of the meat, which isn’t great when you go to eat. Cooking evenly, and reaching a safe internal cooking temperature, is key to killing harmful bacteria in meat that may cause food poisoning. Meat that is not thawed properly, or that is not cooked to an appropriate internal temperature, could cause food-borne illness.


The safest and most recommended way to defrost is to place your product on a plate or in a bowl (depending on the size and shape of the product and the packaging) and place it in your fridge on the bottom shelf. This will catch any potential leaks and prevent accidental cross-contamination with other items in the fridge. Smaller cuts will take less time to thaw, where larger options like roasts may take longer – most cuts of meat will be defrosted and ready to cook within 24 hours. Refer to safe storage guidelines above to determine how long you can leave your meat in the fridge before cooking.


If you’ve forgotten to take meat out and defrost it in the fridge ahead of time, or you’re eager to cook something the same day it arrives, you can also use the sink to thaw. You can either run cold water from the tap over the meat until it’s fully thawed, or you can submerge it in a sink filled with cold water. Ensure the packaging remains on the product and change the water every 30 minutes until your meat is fully thawed. As an alternative, you can also take your meat out of the vacuum sealed packaging and place it in a microwave-safe dish and use the defrost setting on your microwave to thaw your product.


When handling raw meat out of the package, you’ll want to avoid cross-contamination throughout your kitchen. Anywhere your product has been handled – the sink, a cutting board, a dish – will need to be sanitized thoroughly before it is used for any other purposes.


Article by: Trish Carnahan


Posted on November 5th, 2020