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Freezing Meats

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Freezing Meats


Beef, Veal, Lamb or Pork

Select only high quality, fresh meats to freeze. 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.

Chilling and Aging - Freshly slaughtered meat carcasses or primal cuts need to be cooled to below 40F within 24 hours to prevent souring or spoiling. The meat should be chilled at 32 to 36F. Variety meats (liver, heart or sweetbreads) are ready to be wrapped and frozen after they are cold. After 24 hours, pork, veal and lamb are ready to be cut, wrapped and frozen. Beef may be left at the 32 to 36F temperature for a total of 5 to 7 days to age the meat, making it more tender and flavorful. Meat purchased from grocery stores is ready to be frozen as is, or cut
into serving-size portions and frozen.

Cutting the Meat - Depending on individual preferences for the number of servings and cooking methods, the meat can be cut into roasts, rolled roasts, steaks, chops, stew meat, ground meat, etc., before freezing.

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 over-wrapped, since their clear packaging is not moisture-vapor resistant. If you purchase film-wrapped meats from a meat packer, check to see if the wrap is a new heavy-duty film. If so, it needs no over-wrapping.

Package the meat in meal-size portions, removing as many bones as possible (they take up freezer space). Place two layers of freezer paper or wrap between slices or patties of meat so they are easier to separate when frozen. This will help speed thawing.

Large Game

Deer, moose, antelope and other large game can be handled for freezing like any other meat or carcass. Trim and discard bloodshot meat before freezing. Package meat, seal and freeze.

Small Game

Rabbit, squirrel and other game should be skinned, dressed and then chilled. Refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours until meat is no longer rigid. Cut into serving-size pieces or leave whole. Package, seal and freeze.

Headspace to Allow Between Packed Food and Closure

Type of Pack Container with
wide top opening
Container with
narrow top opening
Pint Quart Pint Quart
Liquid Pack* 1/2 inch 1 inch 3/4 inch 1-1/2 inch
Dry Pack** 1/2 inch 1/2 inch 1/2 inch 1/2 inch
Juices 1/2 inch 1 inch 1-1/2 inch 1-1/2 inch

*Fruit packed in juice, sugar, syrup or water; crushed or pureed fruit.

**Fruit or vegetable packed without added sugar or liquid.

General Information on Freezing * Blanching Vegetables * Apples * Apricots * Artichokes * Asparagus * Avocados * Bacon * Bananas * Beans: Green, Snap, or Wax *

Beans: Lima * Beans: Butter or Pinto * Beets * Blackberries or Dewberries * Blueberries or Huckleberries * Broccoli * Brussels Sprouts * Butter * Cabbage or Chinese Cabbage * Carrots * Cauliflower * Celery * Cheese *

Cherries: Sour * Cherries: Sweet * Citrus Fruits * Clams * Crab * Fresh Coconut * Corn * Cranberries * Currants * Dates * Eggplant *

Eggs * Figs * Fish * Gooseberries * Grapes * Grapes: Muscadine * Greens (including Spinach) * Garlic in Oil * Guavas * Fresh Herbs *

Ice Cream * Kohlrabi * Lemon Curd, Freezer * Lobster * Loquats * Mayhaw Juice * Meats * Mangos * Melons * Mushrooms * Okra *

Onions * Oysters * Edible Pea Pods * Blackeye or Field Peas * Green Peas * Peaches or Nectarines * Pears * Bell or Sweet Peppers * Hot Peppers * Persimmons * Pesto * Pimentos *

Pineapples * Poultry and Game Birds * Plums * Pomegranates * Prepared Foods * New Irish Potatoes * Sweet Potatoes * Pumpkin * Raspberries * Rhubarb * Rutabagas *

Scallops * Shrimp * Sour Cream * Spinach * Chayote Squash * Summer Squash * Winter Squash * Strawberries * Tomatoes *

Green Tomatoes * Turnips or Parsnips * Whipped Cream * Zucchini

These documents were adapted from the "Complete Guide to Home Canning," Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA, revised 2009 &
From "So Easy to Preserve", 5th ed. 2006. Bulletin 989, Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, Athens. Revised by Elizabeth L. Andress. Ph.D. and Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D., Extension Foods Specialists.