Monday, November 21, 2011

Meat Storage

Guest Post By Leah of Real Farmwives and Friends and Beyer Beware

Whether you buy in bulk or you want to keep your precious left overs instead of tossing them out to the dog, I am sure many of you wonder how long does it really stay "good." So, let me break it down for you.
The first thing you want to do is make sure your refrigerator is at 40 degrees or lower and freezer is at 0 degrees or lower. This is will ensure the safest food possible.

Uncooked Meat

One great way to reduce your grocery bill is buying meat in bulk directly from a farmer. Each year we buy a whole beef. That is one entire finished beef steer or heifer. It comes directly from the butcher to our house. It is frozen at the butcher, so it goes into our deep freeze.

The name of the cut, date packaged, and weight of the package will most likely be stamped on the outside of the cuts. The ground meat comes in packages that you predetermined the weight amount.

We do the same thing with pork. We buy a whole pig and have it butchered.

Now, one reason we do this besides just saving money is for the longevity factor. Meat will stay safe indefinitely in a freezer. I can remember my mom cleaning out one of my great-aunt's freezer and finding food that was over 10 years old. It was safe, but the quality is questionable.

So, if you are wanting to guarantee optimum freshness, I would follow some guidelines set by the Food Safety Inspection Service within the USDA.

 As you can tell, you add so much time to use your meat by storing. For more information on how long is safe in the refrigerator, go to this resource.

Cooked Meat

Now I am sure leftovers are on your brain. Especially cooked turkey leftovers. Let's talk about the best way to store your leftovers.

It IS safe to freeze leftover turkey and trimmings — even if you purchased them frozen. I would recommend wrapping up the leftovers tightly, removing as much air as possible for best quality. You have given yourself 3 to 4 days to eat the turkey and sides up. If you are thinking, there is just way you can eat one more bite of turkey and stuffing over the next 3-4 days, I recommend freezing your leftovers. This is what I have done in the past.

Freezer bags are a girls best friend. I usually chop up the cooked meat to use quickly in casseroles or other dishes when I pull it out of the freezer. This makes the whole weeknight, last minute meal making so much easier. I normally can toss the frozen cooked turkey in the microwave to defrost while I am prepping the ingredients. Then it is thawed out when I am ready for it!

Just how, long can you freeze your cooked meats. Well, for the best quality possible*, you will want to keep plain slices or pieces for up to 4 months, turkey covered in broth or gravy adds about 2 months to the turkey's quality of life, giving you 6 months, and any of your sides should last 4 to 6 months in the freezer.

For more information or a quick guide, be sure to checkout this chart.

*Freezer storage times are for quality only. Frozen foods remain safe indefinitely.

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