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How to Keep Your Meat Fresh!

Posted by Mary M. on October 7, 2013

How to Keep Your Meat Fresh!

You just can't pass up a good deal on meat. (I think that's against the unofficial Traeger Code of Honor.) But once your counter is covered with meat fresh from the butcher, how do you keep it tasting like it was slaughtered just yesterday?

One word: PACKAGING. It makes all the difference. Allow us to expound using some excellent tips given by Cara Eisenpress from Blue Apron.

How to Keep Your Meat Fresh!

BUYING YOUR MEAT

The first step for long-lasting, fresh-tasting meat is picking good quality from the start. The nemesis to any meat's youth and freshness is air. So in order to maintain freshness, of course, you have to protect your meat from the air, or in other words protect it from oxidation. When you're inspecting meat prior to purchase you want it to have that bright red color that we all love. That redness is the positive sign of your meat being exposed to air, or "blooming" as it's called. The flip side of that is that if the meat is exposed to air for too long the red will turn into that unappetizing, murky brown. Avoid buying any meats, especially pre-ground meat, that have any brown tint to it.

Smell is also important. Like with fish or poultry, you want your meat to smell fresh, without any odd odors. So ask your butcher if you can have a 'lil whiff. If you're going to pay good money for meat, make it well-spent and make sure it will last!

STORING YOUR MEAT

The exception to the "rule of redness" (a newly titled rule) is meat that you purchase already vacuum-sealed. This meat has more of a purplish color instead of the vibrant red because all of the air has been sucked out. Vacuum-packaging it like this guarantees a longer freezer or fridge life. 

Tip - if the package seems bloated or has pockets of air, it was probably vacuum sealed too long ago - don't buy it.

When bringing home meat from the butcher, if you aren't going to eat it within the next day or three, vacuum sealing and freezing it is the best method of preservation. (Some butchers will sell you the vacuum-sealed meat already frozen.) If you don't have a vacuum sealer and don't want to make the splurge, a good runner-up is using a couple of resealable plastic bags. Wrap the meat in a plastic bag, squeezing all of the air out. Zip it partway and squeeze out any remaining air, as much as you can. Close the bag and then place it in a second resealable bag, following the same steps again to make it as air-free as possible. (Using this method will also help the meat keep longer in the fridge as well as the freezer.)

How to Keep Your Meat Fresh!

Tip - an easy way to push the air out is to immerse the bag in water, keeping the ziplock opening out of the water. The pressure of the water will push out more air than you can with your hands.

If you do plan to cook your meat shortly after purchase, you still want to keep it away from the air to maintain the best flavor and freshness. Keep it tightly sealed in the butcher-wrapped brown paper packaging or re-package it in sealed bags following the steps above. Store in the coolest part of your fridge.

Follow these steps and you will be able to enjoy fresh and flavorful meat for days and months to come.

MEAT STORAGE GUIDELINES:

Beef and Lamb
Chops
Refrigerator: 3 days
Freezer: 6 months

Ground meat and premade patties
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 4 months

Roasts and loins
Refrigerator: 3 days
Freezer: 6 months

Sausage, uncooked
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 2 months

Steaks
Refrigerator: 3 days
Freezer: 6 months

Stew meat
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 4 months

Deli and Processed Meats
Cold cuts, deli-sliced
Refrigerator: 5 days
Freezer: 2 months

Cold cuts, packaged
Refrigerator: 2 weeks (unopened); 5 days (open)
Freezer: 2 months

Hot dogs
Refrigerator: 2 weeks (unopened); 1 week (open)
Freezer: 2 months

Sausage, cooked Such as kielbasa and andouille
Refrigerator: 2 weeks (unopened); 1 week (open)
Freezer: 2 months

Sausage, cured Such as pepperoni and sopressata
Refrigerator: 3 months (unopened); 6 weeks (open)
Freezer: Do not freeze.

Pork
Bacon
Refrigerator: 2 weeks (unopened); 1 week (open)
Freezer: 1 month

Chops
Refrigerator: 3 days
Freezer: 6 months

Ground meat and premade patties
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 4 months

Ham, cooked
Refrigerator: 1 week (whole); 4 days (half); 4 days (steaks)
Freezer: 2 months

Ham, country
Pantry: 3 months (whole)
Refrigerator: 3 months (half)
Freezer: 1 month (half)

Roasts and loins
Refrigerator: 3 days
Freezer: 6 months

Sausage, uncooked
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 2 months

Stew meat
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 4 months

Sources:

http://food52.com/blog/7132-how-to-choose-the-freshest-meat-and-how-to-store-it

http://www.healthline.com/health/food-safety-meat

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/shopping-storing/more-shopping-storing/meat-storage-00100000077605/index.html

Comments

11/3/2013 5:31:31 PM #

I store my meat vacuum packed WITH an oxygen absorber in the package. I buy mine from a web site called emergency essentials. They're very cost effective when one is able to buy meat in bulk. I have actually found beef and venison "hidden" in my deep freeze that is five years old and it is still good. No funny smells, brown color or freezer burn. The absorbers are the next best thing to nitrogen flushing which is cost prohibitive at home. For that matter, I pre-make 50 lbs bread mix at a time, vacuum pack it and add absorbers to that. The bugs don't grow.

I love my Traeger.

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