Storing Meat in the Freezer

Apr 06, 2017

Ever wonder if that meat in the freezer is still good? With so many different types of packaging used at the meat counter, it’s hard to tell just how long meat will last in the freezer. The type of meat and how it is packaged plays a huge role in how long it can be stored.

When freezing meat, one helpful tip is to cut off any excess fat or remove any bones if possible. This will help save space in your freezer. You also want to make sure that the meat does not have any added salt. Salt in the packaging will draw out moisture and will oxidize the meat fat, giving it a rancid flavor and shortening the period the meat can be left in the freezer. Therefore any meat that is further processed, or contains added salt will stay fresh for a shorter amount of time in the freezer.

If packaged correctly, pork will keep for around six months, while beef and lamb can be kept for up to 12 months in the freezer. This is because pork contains more unsaturated fatty acids than the other meats. There is some variation in freezer times across the different cuts. For any meat product that is ground, such as hamburger, the freezer time is shorter.

Below is a table of recommended storage time for maximum quality products as long as the food is properly packaged in an air-tight container.

Meat in Freezer Wrapping


Freezer (0° F or Colder)


Beef cuts

6 to 12 months


Veal and lamb cuts

6 to 9 months


Pork cuts

6 months


Ground beef, veal and lamb

3 to 4 months


Ground pork

1 to 3 months


Variety Meats

3 to 4 months


Leftover cooked meat

2 to 3 months


Luncheon meat

1 to 2 months



1 to 2 months



1 to 2 months



1 month


Smoked ham

1 to 2 months

Frozen Combination Foods,


Meat Pies

2 to 3 months


3 to 4 months


Prepared dinner

2 to 3 months


When freezing meat, you want to do it as quickly as possible, ensuring its quality is maintained in the freezing process. A fast freeze also helps meat retain more moisture in the process, giving you a higher quality product when defrosted.

One problem that many consumers face when freezing meat is freezer burn. Freezer burn is caused by a loss of moisture in a food product. The most common source of this is when a product is partially defrosted and then refrozen. If the package is not air tight against the product, freezer burn will occur due to dehydration. If meat does become freezer burn it will have a bland or rancid taste and tough texture when cooked. 

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