Avoiding freezer burn when storing meat

My smart wife grabbed a chest freezer a few months ago before they all sold out. So we’re starting to store meat for the long term, which I’ve never really done before. The few times I did, the meat would get freezer burn not long after. Maybe a few weeks. Not all of it would be ruined but enough that I didn’t make long term storage a habit.

But I get the sense that I’ve been doing something wrong if so many preppers are keeping meat for months. What do you recommend to avoid this?


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  • Comments (12)

    • 8

      a simple/common option are the vacuum sealer bags.  Some are better than others (I was going to link to mine, but it seems to be discontinued).  There are also liquid-submersion vacuum sealers which are good for things like soups but a simple vacuum sealer should work pretty well for meat.

    • 6

      Rich is right. You need a vacuum sealer. Ruined meat is a tragedy! They can be a bit of investment depending on which kind you get but it’s probably the most direct way of solving your problem. The automatic ones are nice because they do all the work and you just toss the thing in the freezer.

    • 8

      How are you wrapping it?

      • 8

        I wrap it tight with Saran wrap if I already used it or just put the package from the store in since it’s already wrapped.

      • 2

        You should wrap it more. Twice with the cling wrap and then you can put the entire thing in another bag that seals. It sounds like a lot but it’s not too bad. That’s what I do and I haven’t had anything mess up. But I don’t leave it in there for years and years. I try to cycle out cuts and keep track of what’s oldest by writing on the bag.

    • 8

      You must get a vacuum sealer if you don’t want to destroy your meat. Also, super-handy for freezing fruits and veggies (which often require significant prep beforehand, fyi). They were hard for me to find, but eBay is always a good option. Snagged one there.

      I got this model: https://www.nesco.com/product/vacuum-sealer-black/

      It is an okay model, but I immediately wished for a stronger pump. Pump capacity is a thing, and if you are planning to do a big session of freeze packing, know that for most models there is a wait time between uses. This model is 120 seconds. Feels annoying, but by the time you label the just-sealed package and the prep/arrange the next-to-seal package, not a big deal. However, the pump itself is not the greatest: left small air pockets (dime sized or smaller) around parts of some steak I sealed. On the other hand, freezing sausages was fine, no air pockets.

      Also, vacuum bags are hard to come by right now. I had to search around a bit a while ago, but might have restocked in recent months.

    • 4

      Get as much air out as you can if you’re going to do it manually. Don’t be afraid to press down. Depending on where you get your meat, some butchers will vacuum seal it for you. You can ask too since I bet more people are stocking their freezers now.

    • 4

      Keep in mind that part of mitigating this is being smart about how you stack, rotate, and use things in the freezer. It’s too easy to forget about an old cut buried at the bottom.

      • 4

        Agreed! Only recently I got into the habit of a) writing down what am I freezing (doh!) and b) writing down the date. Can’t believe it took me 30 years to learn that.

    • 8

      I use freezer paper (it’s something like waxed paper) to wrap the individual cuts of meat and then pop few of them in ziploc bags. But I admitedly don’t freeze a large amount of meat.

    • 3

      I recently bought one at Costco with my Costco rewards it came with a bunch of bags but I bought a huge refill also at Costco just in case. This was all right before the COVID-19 hit and everyone went into lockdown. The wife and I buy meat in bulk from Costco and then separate it into smaller usable portions and vacuum seal it. It takes a little time after getting back from the store to sort it all out, weigh it, seal it, and label it but it’s worth it. I would recommend the name brand Foodsaver but that is only because it is the only brand I have used and it works great for me. I am not familiar with any other brands. I hope this helps.

    • 4

      Freezer burn is caused by exposure to air. There are two ways to avoid that: vacuum seal the meat before freezing or wrap each piece of meat in paper before putting it in the freezer bag, and make sure to get out as much air as you can. There are special vacuum seal bags you can buy and suck the air out with an included syringe or a vacuum cleaner.