When your truLOCAL box arrives filled with a few weeks’ worth of frozen meat, you’re going to want to know what to do.
Don’t be intimidated by the switch to buying frozen meat. It’s just as nutritious and tasty as fresh cuts (probably more so because it’s grain fed) and it can be as easy to deal with. Here’s what you need to know…
Storing Frozen Meat
When your box arrives, you’ll want to place your items in your freezer. Start with flatter items like bacon on the bottom, and more abnormally shaped packages like chicken wings on the top to prevent items from falling out as you make regular use of your freezer. Make sure your freezer is set to -18˚C or lower.
Frozen meat from truLOCAL is different. All of their packages are vacuum sealed and flash frozen, using a process called flash freezing where a cut of meat is frozen instantly, maintaining the flavour and texture the cut had at the time of freezing.
This is different from freezing a cut of meat in your freezer at home. When a cut of meat is placed in a conventional freezer, it achieves a frozen state slowly over a span of several hours, allowing ice crystals to form between the muscle fibres, resulting in a loss of flavour and texture. That’s how you get freezer burn when frozen foods are exposed to too much oxygen.
That means there’s no risk of freezer burn with your truLOCAL products and they’ll last in the freezer for up to a year. When you thaw them, they’ll be just as tasty as the day they were frozen.
Food Temperature Danger Zone
Food storage guidelines recommend that food is not left within a range of 4˚C-60˚C. This is the range where bacteria can quickly multiply and greater susceptibility to illness such as food poisoning is possible.
When storing meat products in the fridge, it’s important to ensure your fridge temperature is at least 4˚C or lower.
Beef, pork, and lamb can remain in the fridge uncooked for 2-4 days and poultry for 2-3 days. Shellfish last up to 24 hours uncooked, where lean or fatty fish (salmon, cod, etc.) can last for 3-4 days before being cooked and consumed.
How to Defrost Meat
For most meat products, it’s best to thaw before cooking. This helps ensure the meat cooks more evenly, instead of overcooking the outside and leaving the middle of the cut in the food temperature danger zone.
There’s also the concern of texture. When you cook from frozen, uneven cooking temperature could result in a less than desirable consistency in the final product. Check your meat with a food thermometer to ensure it’s cooked to an appropriate temperature for the cut.
The safest and most recommended method of thawing is to place your product on a plate or in a bowl (depending on the size and shape of the product and its package) and place it in your fridge on the bottom shelf.
The plate or bowl will contain any juices that may leak out and prevent accidental cross-contamination. Smaller or thinner cuts will take less time to thaw. For thick cuts, allow up to 24 hours to thaw in the fridge.
It’s inevitable that there will be a day where you forget to take something out. If this happens, or you want to cook something the same day it arrives, you can also thaw in the sink.
To do this, run cold water from the tap over the meat until it’s defrosted, or you can submerge it in a sink filled with cold water. Make sure you keep the packaging on and change the water every 30 minutes until your meat is fully thawed.
When you do take your meat out of the package, it’s important to limit the places it touches to avoid cross-contamination throughout your kitchen. Anywhere the meat has been handled (or your hands have touched after handling the meat) – the sink, a cutting board, a dish – will need to be sanitized thoroughly before it is used for any other purposes.
Buying frozen meat has it’s advantages. You can save money buying in bulk and have a variety of options on hand for your family for weeks to come. Flash freezing allows the meat to taste as great as the day it was frozen. Now that you know the safe handling recommendations for storing and thawing your frozen meat, you’re ready to enjoy your next truLOCAL delivery.
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