Meat storage/freezing?


 

Tim O

TVWBB Fan
Hey all,
After a several bad experiences of buying super market meat (OK, a lot over the years) - I am looking to go the route of buying some better cuts from a more reputable source or local butcher. Ideally, I'd like to start buying in bulk to save money and not make as many trips to the store. Which brings me to my question: What are the best ways to buy in bulk (anyone use one of those meat box delivery services?) and does anyone use a small freezer to keep the product fresh? If so, how are your experiences with quality, taste, etc.

Thanks all!
 

Scott Smith

TVWBB Super Fan
A word of warning with this approach. In the supermarket, you can at least see exactly what you are getting and be choosy about which packages you grab. My experience with the supermarket has been that they do have their share of weird cuts (T-bones without a discernible "T" in them for example) that they wrap up and try to pass off on the unsuspecting. However, I enjoy the challenge of looking through all the packages to find the very best ones.

I am curious what the answers to your question comes back as. I suspect by my that "in bulk" would be a restaurant provision company that would come out in a refrigerated truck. We don't really have retail butchers anymore, except for the halal and ethnic markets.

I have never tried the meat box route.
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Develop a relationship with your local butcher, I have one not far from here that really has better pork than their beef, very nice little family owned place which I fear will not be there for too many more years. They are always helpful when I need something specific. The steaks in the case have been unremarkable so, I tend to use them for pork and ground beef. Costco is a pretty reliable source for some primal cuts, whole strip roasts, tenderloins etc. so, I might try them. I’ve purchased a vacuum sealer after members noting how much that saves “freezer loss” and so, far I’m satisfied with those results.
I will be using some of the big steaks as “live ice” on the trip to the cottage saving a little money on both victuals as well as ice.
 

Darryl - swazies

TVWBB Wizard
I purchase my beef from a butcher who sells it to me in vac sealed package.
I buy brisket, butts ect like that.....When I want to put steaks in my freezer I purchase a loin or roast, depending what I want.
I take the beef home and freeze it for an hour or 2 depending on what it is. Take it out and cut it by hand with a good sharp knife into my steaks.
I bought a higher grade vac packer that really does do a good job. Vac packed meats in my opinion taste as good as fresh to me and has a nice long shelf life in the freezer.....All my meat is frozen right now. I bought an extra freezer just so I could fill it with beef before the prices started sky rocketing. I probably have 9 months worth of chicken, beef and pork to last 2 people 9 months.....just a guess. So basically I have committed to frozen proteins. Everyone I cook for seems to like what comes off the grill.
 

LMichaels

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Here is what I do. I buy primals from Costco (or Sam's if/when they have them). I cut them down to what types and sizes I want. Wife vacuum seals them, labels them and they go into the standup/stand alone freezer. Word of caution. Do not try this if you have a frost free or self defrost freezer. The constant defrost cycles cause really bad issues. It will actually cause vacuum sealed packages to unseal and be ruined as well. Another lesson I learned. If you want to freeze burner patties, shape them and freeze them on a tray opened on parchment or such. Once frozen then vacuum seal them. Otherwise they squish and deform
 

Rich Dahl

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
I disagree with the frost free being an issue. I've never had any issues with the meat going bad or the vacuum bags opening. We just cooked a ham and a few days later a tri tip both had been in the freezer for well over a year. We've cooked a lot of steaks that have been in the freezer for 10 months to 15 months that were just as fresh as when we froze them.
I have a remote freezer monitor in the kitchen that watches both freezers in the garage. It has a low and high temp reading on both also current temp. Both freezers never get more than 34-35 degrees and only stay there for about 15 minutes before starting to cool down again, certainly not long enough or warm enough to defrost anything or open a vacuum bag.
 

MartinB

TVWBB All-Star
To me freezing ruins the texture of meat. So I don't have much desire to freeze better cuts of meat..... That would seem to be counter productive. I have a big freezer in the garage it stays completely full... Mostly of cooked food Frozen in containers. Shrimp creole, red beans , gumbo, spaghetti and meatballs.Chili. frozen grilled hamburgers. Frozen leftover ribs, brisket, pulled pork that's been vacuum sealed. Then there's a few frozen turkey breasts in there at any given time. Occasionally a frozen pork butt or pork loin. . Frozen homemade bacon that I sliced and vacuumed sealed. Then there's the frozen fish we catch. And there will usually be a steak or two that was left over from a package and my wife wanted me to vacuum seal it and freeze but we don't go out of our way to freeze steak. In fact we will forget we even have frozen steak if it's frozen.
 
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LMichaels

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
I have tested frozen (my way) and unfrozen in blind tests and cannot tell a difference. Rich all I can say is you have been "lucky". We cannot store anything in our bottom freezer without it being ruined in a couple months or so. No matter how carefully either we or the meat packer we occasionally buy from packages it's been ruined. I've had to throw away a lot of meat too. It's why when we bought a stand alone freezer it's a manual defrost. Even a VERY brief stint can and does undo very careful cutting, wrapping and packing. Our bottom freezer fridge is a quality unit too. Rollout large bottom freezer (which stay much colder than top freezers). We do not own a stand alone frost free freezer but when we were looking for a freezer I did not want to even consider taking a chance that very expensive cuts of prime beef and other things would be ruined by the constant freeze/thaw cycles. Maybe a stand alone works better but given the cost of the unit and the things I wanted to store there was no way on earth I was taking a chance. Also a manual defrost unit is far more energy efficient and will keep things frozen longer in a power failure
 

Brenda T

TVWBB Pro
I agree with Rich Dahl's disagree. :D
Sounds like we have a similar setup. I remotely monitor all of my freezers. My high temp is never more than 25-30 (maybe I have my
temps set lower). The only problem I ever had was when a freezer completely failed...An expensive lesson and the impetus for the purchase of REMOTE thermometers.
When I have a vac bag lose its seal, it seems to always be a package of smoked cheese. I have to chalk that up to hasty carelessness on my part, since I am usually sealing about 40-50 packages at a time.
 

Brenda T

TVWBB Pro
"Also a manual defrost unit is far more energy efficient and will keep things frozen longer in a power failure"

I don't understand this statement. If the power's out, then both units will effectively be non-defrosters, right? :unsure:
 

Chris S in YEG

TVWBB Fan
I have a great relationship with a local butcher and have been going to him for over 10 years. 90% of the meat I purchase is from him and fresh when I cook it. Usually the only thing that goes into the freezer is ground meat and bacon as well as the odd chicken breast. With that being said we are now moving provinces and I need to find a new butcher. I have been in the market for a good dependable vacuum sealer so if I need to freeze leftovers or purchased meats I know that if will be safe a few weeks or months down the road.
 

LMichaels

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
If you think about the science of how a freezer is built and the differences between them. Also because they don't have heating elements trying to undo what you spend $$$ to do (freeze) they cost less to run. Last, think about what a frost free is actually doing. It turns on heating elements internally to heat up the freezer from say -10F t0 something ABOVE 32F. Every time it does this that expensive prime steak's surface is partially thawed. Especially if it's somewhat close to the heating element. Perhaps less so if it's buried away from it and insulated by some other food. I still use my frost free freezer (for convenience as it's upstairs) but only for VERY short term or something I have bought that is already IQF. Example: I have a bag of frozen Jones breakfast links. They're IQF, I use them daily (well almost) so they're fine. Also a bag of IQF frozen veg from Costco. Again, it's IQF and used daily. So odds of it going bad from the freeze thaw cycles are slim to none. But when I go through the expense and work of buying a primal of beef, cutting it to liking, packing and freezing. No way on earth it's getting trusted to the frost free box
 

Rich Dahl

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Both of my garage freezers are "garage ready" units. Basically, that means that they can operate in temperatures up to 125 reliably and if a power failure happens as long as you don't open the door the food is safe for 48 hours.
With lake Mead and Powell down to the point of not being able to provide power from the dams. With rolling power outages a possibility, I also have 5500 watt generator that runs on gas or propane that can run both freezers. With over $1000 worth of meat in the two freezers I'm not taking any chances.
 

Rich Dahl

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
I'm sure Larry is correct that a non frost free freezer is more economical as is a chest freezer vs. an upright, but for the connivence of the frost free and ease of access is well worth the minuscule cost of a 15 minute defrost cycle every 72 hours. When you have to defrost your freezer what do you do with all the frozen food in it while you defrost it. My last freezer wasn't frost free and it was a PITA to defrost.
 

Tim O

TVWBB Fan
Great advice on here, as usual. Maybe I’ll make a better effort to frequent my local butcher despite current prices. I usually buy meat as needed depending on the meal for the week. Just tired of super market cuts going bad or spoiled before the sell by date.
 

Ed P

TVWBB Emerald Member
My last freezer wasn't frost free and it was a PITA to defrost.
You might not be doing it right. You can defrost a freezer in 15 minutes or less...usually it takes longer to unpack/pack than it does to defrost.

I take a large pot and bring it to boil. When it's just about boiling, I unload the freezer. Unplug the freezer, take the pot of boiling water, set it in the freezer on a hot pad so it doesn't melt the plastic. Close the freezer door and wait 10 minutes or until you hear the chunks of ice falling off the sides. Remove the ice and wipe out the inside with a large towel. Done.

Mine is sorely in need of defrosting...I'll do it today, time it, and take pictures.
 
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Darren Lebner

TVWBB Pro
You might not be doing it right. You can defrost a freezer in 15 minutes or less...usually it takes longer to unpack/pack than it does to defrost.

I take a large pot and bring it to boil. When it's just about boiling, I unload the freezer. Unplug the freezer, take the pot of boiling water, set it in the freezer on a hot pad so it doesn't melt the plastic. Close the freezer door and wait 10 minutes or until you hear the chunks of ice falling off the sides. Remove the ice and wipe out the inside with a large towel. Done.

Mine is sorely in need of defrosting...I'll do it today, time it, and take pictures.

I do something similar for our old freezer. I pour the boiling water into bowls which I place on each shelf. While it's all melting, the frozen food is sitting in picnic coolers.
 

 

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