How Long can I Store Meat in the Freezer?

Harriette Halepis
Harriette Halepis
Meat can be defrosted in a microwave, but it's not ideal.
Meat can be defrosted in a microwave, but it's not ideal.

Freezers, in some form, have been in existence for many centuries. Storing meat inside of a freezer is a great way to ensure that meat will not rot. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to store meat inside of a freezer indefinitely, though you may not want to eat meat that has been frozen for many years.

The main reason why it's not a good idea to store meat for more than six months has nothing to do with the safety of the product. Instead, eating meats that have been frozen for more than six months simply won't taste good. Thanks to freezer burn, and other factors, older frozen meats lose taste and become rather stringy. There are some guidelines that must be followed prior to freezing any kind of meat or other food.

Frozen beef.
Frozen beef.

First, make sure that you freeze all meats prior to the "use by" date listed on the package. Otherwise, the product that you want to freeze may be spoiled before you even place it inside of your freezer. Next, do not thaw meats only to freeze them once again. This cycle of thawing and freezing will encourage bacteria to grow, which may make you sick. The only time that you can safely defrost and freeze meat twice is if the product has been thoroughly cooked following the first defrosting. Once an item has been cooked and frozen, do not defrost and freeze the cooked item again.

Label the package with a permanent marker.
Label the package with a permanent marker.

When defrosting any food product, place the product inside of your refrigerator to defrost. While you can also use a microwave oven to defrost an item, slowly defrosting meat by placing it in your fridge will ensure a quality product. By making sure that the product is tightly wrapped and placed upon a plate or other container, you can be certain that any juice from the product will not leak onto other foods that may be inside of your fridge.

Frozen foods can retain their nutritional value for up to one year.
Frozen foods can retain their nutritional value for up to one year.

The best way to ensure that your frozen foods do not pass their prime is to mark any frozen product once it has been wrapped. Using a large permanent marker, write down the name of the product and the freezing date. This way, you can simply glance at a product in order to determine whether or not the item should be kept for a longer period of time. To ensure that all items placed inside of your freezer are fresh, it's a good idea to get into the habit of cleaning out your freezer twice each year.

Discussion Comments

anon110525

Baloney! I have refrozen all kinds of meats without loss of taste or texture, especially those which have been processed like spiced fajitas of any meat. To avoid the rare case of salmonella, etc.: simply zap in your microwave for 15-20 seconds(I think I read that in Heloise).

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    • Meat can be defrosted in a microwave, but it's not ideal.
      Meat can be defrosted in a microwave, but it's not ideal.
    • Frozen beef.
      By: ra3rn
      Frozen beef.
    • Label the package with a permanent marker.
      By: pzRomashka
      Label the package with a permanent marker.
    • Frozen foods can retain their nutritional value for up to one year.
      By: adisa
      Frozen foods can retain their nutritional value for up to one year.
    • Some resealable bags are specifically designed to prevent freezer burn.
      By: koosen
      Some resealable bags are specifically designed to prevent freezer burn.