If you are looking for the best ways to freeze and store meat and seafood for the long term, here is the ultimate guide to help you.
These methods, tips, and tricks have worked like a charm for me.
Let’s get right into it.
Benefits of Freezing Meat and Seafood
Let’s find out why it is good to freeze meat and seafood in the first place. From being economical to retaining nutritional value, freezing has a lot of benefits.
1. Freezing Avoids Food Wastage
You can only keep meat and seafood in the fridge for a couple of days before it starts to lose its freshness.
Unless you can use it up immediately, you would have to waste it.
To avoid this, freezing them is the best alternative, allowing you to eat them at your leisure.
2. Freezing Keeps the Nutritional Value Intact
Although fresh meat and seafood are always the better alternatives, frozen meat and seafood still have much of the nutritional qualities of the fresh version.
Especially in the case of fish, all the essential vitamins are locked in when frozen.
3. Meal Prep is Out of the Way
The thought of cutting and prepping, meat and seafood before each mealtime is exhausting indeed.
So, spending an hour or two on meal prep and portioning the meat or seafood beforehand can be a huge lifesaver.
Pre-Freezing Preparations for Meat and Seafood
Before you get to freezing the meat or seafood, here are some things you should take care of first to make sure that they keep fresh and last longer.
1. Freeze as Fresh as Possible
Freezing merely puts time on hold for a while.
The meat or seafood will continue to degrade, the longer it stays in the freezer. So, you must freeze the meat or seafood as soon as you buy it or prep it.
2. Portion Beforehand
Working with meat or fish once it thaws is going to be more cumbersome than if you work with the fresh and just as soon as you bought them.
So, cut them up into portion sizes that you can easily consume in one go as soon as you get them.
3. Clean and Remove Shells
If you are freezing mussels or clams, make sure to rinse it thoroughly and get rid of all the sand and strands of rope before freezing it.
In the case of oysters, it is best advised to remove the meat off the shell before freezing it.
4. Wrap Thoroughly
Be it meat or fish, be sure to wrap the portions thoroughly to prevent freezer burns.
Air is the enemy when it comes to freezing meat and fish. So, the wrapping ensures maximum protection and also makes it easy to pull out individual portions.
Methods of Freezing Meat and Seafood
Now that we have covered the essential prep work, let’s get right into methods of freezing meat and seafood for long-term storage.
Method 1 – Freezing Meat after Flash Freezing
This is a great way to freeze meat like bacon strips, meat slices, or burger patties. It helps to keep the individual portions separate and easy to store.
On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lay down the meat slices or portions. Make sure that they are evenly spaced and don’t stick to each other.
Cover the tray with some parchment paper, and leave it in the freezer for a couple of hours to flash freeze.
Then transfer the frozen meat into a Ziploc bag or freezer-safe air-tight container and seal them in. Try and squeeze out all the excess air from the bag before sealing it if you are using Ziploc bags.
Add a label on the bag or container, and you are good to go.
Here is a video tutorial by “Coral” on YouTube to help you out –
Method 2 – Freezing Meat or Fish after Wrapping Them
You can use this method to freeze any kind of meat or fish that you have portioned into manageable serving sizes.
Take each portion of meat or fish and wrap them with parchment paper or cling wrap. You can also bag them into small plastic bags if you prefer. Wrap it as air-tight as you can.
Place the wrapped meat or fish into a Ziploc bag and seal them in. Make sure to squeeze out all the excess air from the bag before sealing it. You could also vacuum seal the meat or fish if you can.
Label the bag with the best before date, and you are all set to freeze the meat or fish till you need it next.
Check out this video tutorial by “Certified Angus Beef Brand Kitchen” on YouTube –
Method 3 – Freezing Seafood in Ice Blocks
If you are looking to freeze small seafood, like shrimps or prawns, this is one way to go about it.
Once you clean and portion the seafood, transfer it into a freezer-safe air-tight container.
Add ice cubes to the container to keep the seafood cold until it freezes in a block.
Then add water to the container until the seafood is submerged in it.
Make sure the container is big enough to leave an inch of space at the top to make room for the water to expand when it freezes.
Seal the container and add a label on it with the best before date, and you are good to go.
To get a better picture, check out this tutorial by “Home Cooking with Somjit” on YouTube –
Method 4 – Freezing Seafood in Freezer-Safe Air-Tight Containers
If you are freezing small portions of seafood or sliced meat, this is another great way to freeze them.
After you clean and cut the seafood or meat, place them in a freezer-safe air-tight container. You could also
pack each layer of seafood into separate Ziploc bags.
Once you line a few at the bottom, separate the next layer of seafood or meat with parchment paper, cling wrap, or a sheet of plastic.
Repeat this till you reach the top of the container and then seal it.
Label the container with the best before date, and you are all set to freeze them.
Here is the video tutorial on how to go about it, by “The Burning Kitchen” on YouTube –
How to Store Frozen Meat and Seafood?
You can store the frozen meat or seafood in any freezer-safe air-tight container or Ziploc bag.
The key is to make sure that the meat or seafood is well protected from being exposed to air and freezer burns.
Precautions before Packing
Make sure that the meat or seafood is fresh and does not have excess moisture on them.
Bacteria, once it develops, on the meat or seafood, will only be made dormant when it freezes.
The meat or fish con spoil quickly once it thaws if it wasn’t fresh or dealt with care beforehand.
Another thing to consider is portion sizes.
Refreezing meat and seafood are not recommended. So, to avoid wastage or refreezing, it is best to portion the meat or seafood beforehand into serving sizes that you can easily consume in one go.
If you are freezing seafood in ice cubes, make sure to leave some headspace at the top of the container to make room for any expansion that occurs once it freezes.
Otherwise, the container can crack and expose the contents to air.
Best Materials to Pack In
The best materials to opt for packing meat and seafood are freezer-safe plastic or glass containers, or Ziploc bags.
Make sure that each portion is well wrapped in parchment paper or cling wrap.
Keep in mind that the Styrofoam containers that meat and fish are often sold in, are not suited for freezer storage.
Always transfer the meat or seafood into a freezer-safe container before freezing.
Best Places to Store after Packing
For long-term storage, it is best to keep the meat or seafood in the innermost and coldest corner of the freezer.
The frequent opening and closing of the freezer door can affect the temperature. Keeping the temperature at a steady 0°F is optimal for keeping the meat or seafood fresh.
I hope this article helped you make the most out of your meat and seafood by freezing them.
If you have any doubts or would like to share some tips and tricks of your own, it would be great to hear from you.
Feel free to share this article with your family and friends to help them out in the kitchen.