How Long Can I Freeze Meat?

Written by admin on April 11, 2008 – 4:26 pm -

So I have a roast that’s been in my freezer for over a year. I just discovered it in the back of my freezer the other day, I had totally forgotten it was there! I almost threw it away when I found it, because like I said it’s been in there for over a year! But, I called my mother-in-law and she said that it should still be fine. I wasn’t quite convinced yet, so I did a little research on the internet and found that she was right: food can keep indefinitely in the freezer. Didn’t know that. All of the sites and articles I found (including the usda’s site) said the same thing…that as long as your freezer stays at or below 0°F, your food will keep indefinitely because that temperature “inactivates” the growth of bacteria. I found an article that I felt really explained all of this (freezing meat, freezer burn, thawing meat) really well to me. Here’s what they said about freezing your meats:

Frozen meats can be safely frozen indefinitely as long as your freezer maintains a temperature of 0°F or lower. At this temperature, bacteria, yeasts, and molds are inactive (not destroyed). Freezing meat simply stops the clock when microbes are concerned. So, if a piece of meat is about to go bad when you freeze it, it’s about to go bad when after you thaw it. It’s best to freeze fresh meat shortly after purchase unless you plan on using it.”

Makes sense! I would definitely recommend reading this whole article, like I said he explains really well freezing meats as well as thawing them safely.

So, as I said, your food will stay safe indefinitely in your freezer. Now, what about quality? What all of the articles I found said was, although your food will stay SAFE, that doesn’t mean that it will still TASTE good by the time you get around to cooking! If you keep it in the freezer too long, it can affect the quality (but not safety) of your food. So, since I’m one of those weirdos who actually likes my food to taste decent, again I ask, How Long Can I Freeze Meat? This chart is from the USDA’s website, & it tells you how long different foods can be frozen before it starts affecting the quality (but again, it’ll stay safe pretty much forever if kept at the right temperature). I have found this chart SO helpful…just make sure when you freeze your foods you write on them in permanent marker (on a piece of masking tape if needed) when you need to use them by (so they don’t end up sitting in your freezer for, say, a year):

I got this chart from the USDA’s article I found. I’d also definitely recommending this whole article if you want more info (what better source to use than the USDA right?). It just gives more in detailed information about food safety and how freezing your food affects it’s quality and nutrients. Click here to read the whole article.

So I guess my roast is still safe to eat…maybe I’ll cook it in some sauce or something so it doesn’t taste too funny! I’ll let you know how that one goes…

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Posted in Tips & Tricks | 5 Comments »

5 Comments to “How Long Can I Freeze Meat?”

  1. jeross Says:

    Unfortunately USDA is not the best reference when it comes to food

  2. FRANK K. Says:

    I have cooked a piece of Pork which was too long in my freezer. It smelt a bit “Old” bordering on Rancid but when I cooked it these odours seemed to diminish a bit. However I have decided to throw it out . But beforehand, i did try a small piece of it in a sandwich to make sure. It wasnt good.
    if this doesnt make me ill which i dont think it will what about the long term ?
    I.e. will I be more prone to say stomach or oesophagus cancer for eating it ?

  3. Mark Says:


    You will be dead soon from eating the pork… Send all your guns and ammo to me.



  4. sandra Says:

    This is for all those dads and moms out there who have children still in school. Instead of getting up tired and trying to fumble in the kitchen trying to make my two boys a nice hot meal, I cook for one day a month and freeze it..
    I take flour tortillas and make different wraps.
    I will scramble eggs and top with shredded cheese. Cover pan and let cheese melt…and make two different ways..
    One way will have cooked sausage and another way will have cooked bacon.
    I heat the tortilla up in microwave for 30 secs to soften it, cut the eggs in portions and place on tortilla and add either sausage or bacon. Then wrap them by folding one end over eggs and then the 2 sides then fold over to complete..
    (HINT) you could make 2 different portions of eggs and before adding the cheese add either the cooked sausage or crumbled cooked bacon. mix with the eggs then add cheese ( if you buy the loose sausage it is better.)
    Wrap in plastic wrap and place in zip lock bags and label them. And put date on bag. You can use these zip lock bags over and over again.
    I also make up small pancakes and cook side orders of sausage. Wrap 2 pancakes and 2 sausages together in plastic wrap, and place in zip lock bags don’t forget to label the bags.
    Also I made up French toast.
    With fork, beat up a few eggs with a little butternut vanilla ext. (about ½ tsp. per 2 eggs.) And dip the bread in and fry up in fry pan with a little butter. Place 2 slices with 2 sausages and wrap up in plastic and place in zip lock bag.
    Another one is I would take an English muffin and slice in half and toast it. Take one egg in fry pan and break yolk and fry on one side then turn over and add cheese. Be creative, add sausage or bacon. I buy the loose sausage and make thin really thin patties and fry up and use them. Wrap these in plastic wrap and place in zip lock bags and label.
    Now I have to say these things are also good if you’re a parent who works late and kids need to get something before the main meal. Or snack at night. Hope this gives you some ideas .xo

  5. Mr Peach Says:

    The govt has to CTA so they issue a ridiculous timeframe outlining storage durations for meat in deep freeze. Let me say, as a farmer/rancher we raise our own meat and when we butcher a steer or pig we would waste inordinate amounts of food and money if we tossed our meat at four months. Our whole family has safely eaten our beef and pork at a year and half in deep freeze. There are a couple things to note, however.
    First, our pigs and cows were raised on completely natural food sources and we did not give them any antibiotics, hormones or supplements. Secondly, when meat is in storage that long the meat turns more quickly when thawed. So, if you have frozen meat only a few weeks old from butcher date and you thaw it, you can usually have it in the fridge for 2-3 days before cooking if you get too busy to cook it right away. Not so with long-term stored meat. As soon as it thaws, it needs to be cooked. Remember, the bacterial activity has just slowed way down in deep freeze, not stopped. So, when the meat is thawed after a year, the bacteria activity is higher than freshly butchered and frozen meat.
    Third, we do not eat our meat any kind of rare. It’s even safer to cut up steaks or make thin patties when grilling.
    Fourth, trust your nose. Smell some fresh meat, then smell your frozen stored meat when thawed. If you have any sense about yourself you will know if it’s good or not.
    Fifth, I have read about millions of pounds of food being recalled that was tainted with e coli or salmonella and that food was freshly butchered and stored. The most important thing to consider is where you get your meat from, and where was it butchered and packaged and how much has it been handled.
    As far as the USDA’s four month life for beef in deep freeze….. No, I wouldn’t trust any big commercial or govt beef past 2 months.

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