How Long Does Vacuum Sealed Meat Last in the Freezer?
Have you ever pulled food out of the freezer, thawed it out and tried to eat it only to bit into it and taste utter disappointment? That bland, moldy and almost synthetic like taste is what’s commonly referred to as freezer burn. That is what happens when you try packaging food using a ziplock bag. If you really want to preserve your food, along with the taste, you should be using a vacuum sealer (found here). So how long does meat last once it has been vacuum packed and tossed in a freezer? This is a good question and one that I will answer in this article.
Freezers really are amazing food preservation tools. Imagine, just a few hundred years ago people had to dig a hole in the ground and fill it with snow (if available) just to provide a slightly cooler place to keep their food. Salting and smoking food wasn’t much better. The biggest downside to freezers is that they have a tendency to drain the flavor out of food. Over time, food begins to draw in flavors of other products in the freezer along with the bland taste of the freezer itself.
The best way to protect food against freezer burn is to vacuum seal it. The vacuum seal barrier literally locks out air and prevents other flavors and moisture from breaching the barrier. Most of our Minipack vacuum sealers will remove 99.9% of the air from the bag, allowing the frozen food to taste just as fresh thawed as it was when it was initially packaged. Some people even create entire meals and vacuum seal them for later cooking such as Sous Vide.
So how long can a freezer keep meat fresh and unspoiled? It really depends on the cut and type of meat. Keep in mind that uncooked meat typically lasts much longer than cooked. Here is a list of some types of meat and their general lifespan in a well-maintained freezer. I am including the time for vacuum sealed and non vacuum sealed.
Cooked Meat Times
- Poultry – Up to 4 Months
- Beef – Up to 3 Months
- Hot Dogs – Up to 2 Months
- Stew – Up to 3 months
- Lunch Meat – Up to 2 months
Uncooked Meat Times
- Bacon – Up to 1 month.
- Sausage – Up to 2 months
- Hamburger – Up to 4 months
- Steaks – Up to 12 months
- Chops – Up to 6 months.
- Roasts – Up to 12 months.
- Poultry – Up to 1 year.
Uncooked & Vacuum Sealed
- Beef – Up to 3 years
- Pork – Up to 3 years
- Poultry – Up to 3 years
- Lamb – Up to 3 years
- Fish – Up to 2 years
- Hamburger – Up to 1 year
- Ground Meat – Up to 1 year
Do you notice how much longer meat lasts in the freezer when it is vacuum sealed? This is because there is no contact with oxygen or air, resulting in a much longer lifespan. Vacuum sealed food can last up to 3-5 times longer than non vacuum sealed food. The taste of the food, for obvious reasons, is also much better after a long period of time.
Be sure to write a date on the outside of the vacuum-sealed meat to provide you, or whoever will be cooking the food, an idea as to how old it is.
The government’s FoodSafety site (found here) has a great list of products and their refrigerator and freezer storage times.
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