how long keep ground beef in 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

How To Freeze Ground Beef To Maintain Flavor

As you may know, foods that have been frozen are safe to eat indefinitely, if they have been stored properly at the right temperature. As you may also know, just because something is safe to eat doesnt mean it will taste good. For the best flavor and texture, the United States Department of Agriculture says frozen ground beef should be cooked and eaten within four months.

What exactly does ground beef taste like, if frozen too long? When left in the freezer too long, the cellular structure of the meat starts to deteriorate. due to ice crystals that begin to form. This is where the flavor starts to become lost, leading to a less enjoyable taste, overall. You will not fully know how affected your frozen meat is until you thaw it out, but knowing that the flavor threshold stands at four months will give you even more cause to date your frozen ground beef.

how long keep ground beef in freezer

How To Thaw Your Beef Safely

  • Put the zip-top bag with the frozen meat in the refrigerator.
  • Its best to place the meat on a plate so any condensation from the bag wont drip over other items.
  • When using this method, cook thawed meat within one to two days.

4 Answers 4 Sorted by:

From Freezing and Food Safety published by the United States Department of Agriculture:

Is Frozen Food Safe? Food stored constantly at 0 °F (-18 °C) will always be safe. Only the quality suffers with lengthy freezer storage. Freezing keeps food safe by slowing the movement of molecules, causing microbes to enter a dormant stage. Freezing preserves food for extended periods because it prevents the growth of microorganisms that cause both food spoilage and foodborne illness.

Does Freezing Destroy Bacteria & Parasites? Freezing to 0 °F (-18 °C) inactivates any microbes — bacteria, yeasts and molds — present in food. Once thawed, however, these microbes can again become active, multiplying under the right conditions to levels that can lead to foodborne illness. Since they will then grow at about the same rate as microorganisms on fresh food, you must handle thawed items as you would any perishable food.

Trichina and other parasites can be destroyed by sub-zero freezing temperatures. However, very strict government-supervised conditions must be met. Home freezing cannot be relied upon to destroy trichina. Thorough cooking, however, will destroy all parasites.

Freshness & Quality Freshness and quality at the time of freezing affect the condition of frozen foods. If frozen at peak quality, thawed foods emerge tasting better than foods frozen near the end of their useful life. So freeze items you wont use quickly sooner rather than later. Store all foods at 0° F (-18 °C) or lower to retain vitamin content, color,

It depends on two factors:

  • How it was packaged prior to freezing. I have gotten 1 pound blocks of ground beef from my butcher, which are vacuum sealed before flash-freezing in shrink-wrap. I have pulled these from the freezer over a year later and found them to be perfectly fine. On the other hand, if it is typical grocery store Styrofoam tray wrapped in cellophane then 4 months is about the outside limit before freezer burnt beyond usefulness.
  • Fat Content, those packages I got from the butcher where better than 90/10 (more like 93/7). Fat can go rancid, even while frozen (though it does take much longer, I suspect this is part of what @ElendilTheTall was referring to as “properly” bad.) The higher the fat content the faster it can go bad.

If after thawing you are not confident of its safety then yes, throw it out. A fresh pound of ground beef is much less expensive than a trip to the ER for food poisoning.

The USDA recommends four months. It wont be unsafe after that time per se, but it will very likely be freezer burned, giving it a weird and unpleasant texture.

Eventually it will go properly bad – I dont think Id risk food poisoning over a few bucks worth of ground beef. Throw it out and buy fresh.

I had ground beef in the freezer for one year in a Zip Lock bag and it is in perfect condition. Dont through out food unnecessarily if it has been kept frozen.

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Hamburger, ground meats and ground poultry

FAQ

Is ground beef still good after 2 years in freezer?

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.

How do you know if ground beef has gone bad in the freezer?

To determine if your ground beef if spoiled, use your senses. Touch the ground beef. If it’s slimy, that’s not normal. Smell and visually examine at your ground beef, and if it’s brown or an off odor, those could be signs that your ground beef is spoiled.

Is 2 year old frozen 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.

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

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