Butcher’s Guide to Meat Storage

Both of my freezers are full to bursting.

My stand-alone freezer is full of all the produce from my potager this summer.

The freezer that is half of my fridge is full to bursting with the lamb that we got before we left on our trip.

A leg (hind quarter) and / or a shoulder (front quarter) take up a lot of room. They are also not the easiest cuts to wrap for storage.

I always double wrap my meat for the freezer – first in cling film, then in foil I don’t freeze in the package that it comes in when I buy from the supermarket because it’s huge (and a terrible waste).

Here is more information on proper meat storage:

Meat Storage: A Butcher’s Guide On How To Properly Store Your Meat

Meat storage today essentially involves refrigeration at the right temperature to prevent microbial invasion and proliferation.

In this post, you’ll learn some expert tips on how to properly store meat, so you can keep it fresh until it’s time to cook and serve.

General Meat Storage When Shopping for Meat

When shopping, always buy meat towards the last stop and make your trip as short as possible. Also, it’s good to know the origin of the meat if you buy from a local butcher (unless indicated on a label). Use a cool box or cool bag when transporting meat so you can keep it as cool as possible.

Here are some meat storage tips as soon as you get home:

  • If the meat is pre-packaged check to see if it’s damaged because air and bacteria can enter, which can spoil the meat.
  • If you bought it from a local butcher, unless using immediately, unwrap it and dry it off.
  • Place the meat in a glass container or firmly sealed plastic wrap or bag for short-term storage in the fridge.

Turkey Storage Tips

Only buy turkey from a reliable supplier like Morton’s Traditional Taste. In that way, you get to enjoy freshly butchered high-quality turkey every time, which is perfect for long-term storage just in time for the holidays.

Proper storage of uncooked turkey will ensure that you’ll keep it succulent and clean until you’re ready to cook your favorite holiday recipe. For long-term storage, you can keep uncooked turkey, like ground turkey, turkey cutlets, and whole turkeys in the freezer. For thawing  move it to the refrigerator.

Here are some storage tips for raw turkey:

  • To keep the bacteria out, try to keep the original packaging of the turkey from the store. Don’t buy turkey with damaged packaging.
  • If the turkey has been unwrapped, make sure to dry it first before wrapping it in heavy-duty plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Using a vacuum-sealed bag or airtight wrap, you can store turkey cuts in the freezer for up to 9 months, and a whole turkey for up to 12 months.
  • Turkeys should be kept below 0 °F or -18 °C, so it stays completely frozen.
  • When storing raw turkey in the refrigerator, set the temperature lower than 40 °F or 4 °C.

Pork Storage Tips

Store pork in the fridge at a temperature of 36 °F to 40 °F or 2°C to 4°C. Place raw pork in a container or plate and cover with a plastic wrap.

Here are other storage tips for pork:

  • For pre-packaged fresh pork meat make certain that the packaging is not damaged.
  • When storing in the freezer, use recommended freezer packaging, like heavy-duty plastic wrap or bags or aluminum foil.
  • Use frozen pork, including ham and bacon, within their manufacturer’s recommended storage times.

Beef Storage Tips

As with other meats it’s important to use the proper, heavy duty film or foil to wrap tightly to avoid spoilage and / or freezer burn.

Here are a few tips when storing beef (or any meat):

  • Using a permanent marker, it’s best to write the label directly on the package before you fill it with meat. Labels tend to lose their stickiness in the freezer over time.
  • Place pieces of wax or parchment paper in between multiple burgers or steaks if you want to put them in one package. By doing so, you’ll be able to separate each meat without tearing the surface when they’re partially thawed.
  • Create the best beef recipes by making the beef last longer in the freezer until you’re ready to cook. You can store fresh cuts up for 8 to 12 months and ground beef for 3 to 4 months in the freezer below 0°F  or -18 °C,
  • Raw beef cuts, like chops, roasts, and steaks, if well-wrapped, will last in your refrigerator for up to 5 days. For ground meat, the shelf life is 1 to 2 days due to more surface area and the risk of cross-contamination brought about by the grinding process.

Take note that cooked beef will last in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Conclusion

When storing meat, whether you plan to place them in the refrigerator or in the freezer, it’s important to keep them at the right temperature. Proper packing is also important to avoid the entry of air and bacteria that can quickly spoil the meat.

Finally, make sure to label all meat packaging with dates so you can cook them while they’re still fresh and flavorful. 

On another note… there will be more photos from Rome – and Tangier.

6 thoughts on “Butcher’s Guide to Meat Storage”

  1. I break mine down and use a vacuum sealer. It’s so much more efficient than I could ever wrap anything and now, they make bags that you can not only vacuum freeze in, but then you can just drop them in a sous vide. Not that I do that method. But it’s nifty.

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