how long can ground beef be kept in the freezer

Cold Food Storage Chart

Food
Type
Freezer [0°F (-18°C) or below]
Hamburger, ground meats and ground poultry
Hamburger, ground beef, turkey, chicken, other poultry, veal, pork, lamb, and mixtures of them
3 to 4 months
Fresh beef, veal, lamb, and pork
Steaks
4 to 12 months
Chops
4 to 12 months
Roasts
4 to 12 months

While the financial news of the day has us scratching our collective heads in confusion, theres one sound bit of financial advice you can count on: Buying ground beef in bulk and freezing some of it for later is a great way to save money. When following this great money-saving habit, its important to consider how much room you have in your freezer and how much youre saving by buying a larger pack. If youre crowding out your fridge to save a couple of bucks, you may want to stick to smaller portions.

When considering buying in bulk, its also important to remember that it can be good for the environment. If more people bought food in bulk, it would significantly reduce the need for landfill space (via NPR). On top of that, bulk buyers take fewer trips to the supermarket, which can mean lower carbon emissions.

If youre going to freeze ground beef, you should be aware of some of the more common mistakes that people make. There are also a few common missteps when it comes to storage, thawing, and cooking of frozen beef.

How To Package Frozen Beef

If you picked up a few pounds of “buy one get one” ground meat at the grocery store and want it to last for four months, you need to know how to store it so that the meat is exposed to as little air as possible. This will prevent freezer burn and discoloration. While you can freeze meat in its supermarket packaging (typically a shrink-wrapped plastic container), its not ideal. The plastic wrap is permeable enough for air to get in. Instead, wrap the container with a layer or two of heavy-duty aluminum foil and write the date on the foil so youll know how long its been in the freezer.

If your beef was sold wrapped in butcher paper or in a plastic bag, you also need to create a barrier to protect it from the air. Wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap or put it in a ziplock freezer bag and push out as much air as possible. Then, cover it with a layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil and date the package.

You can cook ground beef while frozen as long as it cooks at the proper temperature. Frozen ground beef should cook at temperatures above 140°F to prevent bacteria from developing.

Not checking your freezer temperature

One of the biggest mistakes you could be making when freezing ground beef is not having a freezer that is maintaining the correct temperature. According to the USDA, a temperature of 0 F will prevent microbial growth in meat, allowing ground beef to be stored for long periods. As the temperature of ground beef rises above 0 F, it becomes fertile ground for microorganisms.

Because maintaining a safe temperature is so critical, it is a good idea to keep a freezer thermometer in your freezer and periodically check it to ensure the temperature is not rising above 0 F. If your freezer is not able to maintain this critical temperature, it could be due to several different reasons (via AHS). The first thing to check is if your freezer door is remaining ajar or not staying closed. You should also check to see if the contents of your freezer are blocking the air circulating fan. Its also possible your freezer has a mechanical malfunction. If you suspect this is the case, you should call a repair professional.

Maintaining the temperature of your freezer is also an issue during power outages. The Department of Energy notes a freezer should be able to keep ground beef safe for 48 hours as long as the door is kept closed to retain the cold air. Once the temperature of the freezer reaches 40 F, ground beef will only last for two hours before it is unsafe to eat.

Not freezing cooked ground beef

You might be under the impression that freezing cooked beef will ruin it. However, freezing cooked ground beef is a great technique for weekly meal prep. Its important to note that one of the common mistakes everyone makes with meal prep is batch cooking just one dish. To avoid this mistake, you should either cook several dishes at once or cook your ground beef so that it can be used in several different ways. For example, if you cook ground beef with just salt, black pepper, and onions, it could be used to make tacos one night and stir fry the next night.

After cooking your ground beef four different dishes, or with generic seasoning, allow it to cool, first on a counter for about 20 minutes, and then in a refrigerator. Once the cooked ground beef has reached refrigerator temperature, it should be wrapped tightly and transferred to freezer bags (via Canadian Living). When youre ready to use your ground beef, simply thaw it in your refrigerator and reheat it.

Hamburger, ground meats and ground poultry

FAQ

Does ground beef in the freezer go bad?

Ground beef can be frozen indefinitely, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, it is recommended to use ground beef within four months of freezing, as the quality of the meat will begin to deteriorate over time. Ground beef that has been frozen for too long may not be as flavorful.

Is 2 year old frozen ground beef still good?

Poisonous microbes like bacteria are put into sleep mode by freezing. In simpler terms, it’s almost impossible for most frozen foods to ever become spoiled in a working freezer. So, from a food safety perspective, your two-year-old meat is good to go. Thaw it, cook it, and enjoy it!

How long can you keep meat in the freezer after the expiration date?

Food
Length of Storage
Raw or ground beef and pork
3-4 months
Whole chicken or turkey
12 months
Cured or processed meat (bacon, sausage)
1-2 months
Cooked fish
4-6 months

How long can ground beef stay in freezer reddit?

6-12 months for best quality. 12-24 months if stored better. Larger pieces and stewing meat tends to be best longer. Functionally it can be years, but I’d be assuming lower quality after a year or two.

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