Fresh meat and poultry is expensive, but these simple tips on how to store and freeze will help keep it safe to eat, save you time and make it go further too.
Keep it cool!:
- Meat and poultry will go off more quickly and could become unsafe to eat if it gets warm, so shop for non-perishable foods first and add meat and poultry to your trolley at the end of your trip. Use an insulated cool bag with ice blocks to transport your meat and poultry home and put in the fridge immediately.
- Use a fridge thermometer to monitor the temperature of your fridge. It should be no more than 4-5 degrees C in the main part of the fridge.
- Keep meat and poultry on the bottom shelf of your fridge where it is coolest and store on a plastic tray to catch any drips.
- Keep meat and poultry bought in the supermarket in its original packaging and observe the use-by dates. Once your pack has been opened, cover tightly and use within 1 or 2 days, or as instructed on the pack, even if the use-by date is several days ahead.
- Always prepare meat and poultry for cooking and freezing as hygienically as possible. You can freeze meat and poultry up to the use-by date but remember to cook it as soon as it has thawed.
- If you can’t get through a large pack of chicken breasts or pork/lamb chops in a day or two, you can always freeze what’s left in the pack. Wrap individually in small freezer bags, as tightly as possible to keep air out, and store in a large, labelled freezer bag or lidded container. Use within 2 months.
- Look out for vacuum-packed meats – they keep longer as they are very tightly sealed. Vacuum packs mean they freeze brilliantly too as air can’t reach the surface and cause dehydration and freezer burn.
- Put your fast freeze button on at least 2 hours before adding large quantities of food to the freezer and keep it on for 24 hours afterwards. The fast freeze button will drop the temperature from -18 to minus -25. When food freezes more quickly, smaller ice crystals form and the quality of the meat is preserved better. If you don’t have a fast freeze button, clear some space in the coldest part of your freezer.
- Always thaw meat and poultry overnight in the fridge and not at room temperature. Keep covered and thaw on a tray to catch any drips.