You’re considering freezing your meat, but you may have ran out of plastic or don’t want to use it. However, freezing meat with no protection will result in freezer burn within a few days, making it almost inedible. Therefore, how can you store meat in the freezer without using plastic?
Here are 7 ways to store meat in the freezer without plastic:
- Use reusable wax wraps.
- Use heavy-duty aluminum foil for multiple uses.
- Keep it in biodegradable cellulose bags.
- Reuse unbleached parchment paper.
- Keep the meat in brown paper bags.
- Store meat in tempered glass containers.
- Put the meat in layers of muslin bags.
Below, this article will take a detailed look into each storage method. In addition, helpful tips are included for each alternative to plastic, so your meat storage is successful without the waste.
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7 Ways To Freeze Meat Without Plastic
1. Use Reusable Wax Wraps
Reusable wax wraps are made from environmentally friendly substances, including bee’s wax, organic oils, sustainable cotton, tree resin and jojoba oil 1. For just a small investment, a set of reusable wax wraps can last you between one and two years.
This makes it more cost-effective than regular plastic freezer bags. They come in a wide range of colors and patterns and can be used for other purposes in the kitchen and home, like keeping refrigerated produce fresh.
Once you have used the wax wrap for something, wipe it down with lukewarm, soapy water and leave it to dry.
The thick, waxy texture allows it to mold perfectly to the shape of the item you are wrapping. This helps to protect the meat from freezer burn and other damage.
Freezer burn doesn’t make meat unsafe but affects its quality. Freezer burn makes the food dry and appears as grayish to brown spots. The freezer burned areas can be cut away prior to or after cooking the meat. If there’s too much freezer burn, it may have to be discarded for quality reasons.
Beeswax is a popular kind of wax wrap coming with different colors and designs. They sell a wide variety on Amazon which you can check out here, Beeswax.
2. Use Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil for Multiple Uses
Heavy duty aluminum foil is an excellent method of home meat freezing as it can be reused as many times as you like before it tears.
Light aluminum foil is not recommended for freezing meat as it tears easily and can expose the meat to the freezer directly, putting it at risk for freezer burn.
Heavy-duty aluminum foil is your best bet as it is much tougher and does not form holes as quickly. In addition, it can be used for subsequent meat freezing after giving it a quick wipe down.
Aluminum foil is recyclable, so once you have used it a few times for meat freezing, you can have the peace of mind it will not end up in a landfill (as long as you put it in your recycling bin).
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3. Keep It in Biodegradable Cellulose Bags
Freezer bags made from cellulose look and feel like plastic but are 100% compostable and biodegradable, making them much kinder to the environment.
They are more expensive than regular plastic storage bags made from cellophane but worth it if you consider the lack of environmental impact.
Purchasing some on the internet can save some of the extra costs. Check out the current prices on Amazon here, Cellulose Bags.
Like regular plastic freezer bags, you can reuse cellulose bags as often as you like, and for meat freezing, they work just as effectively.
When you can no longer use the cellulose bag, toss it on your compost heap or recycle it with a clear conscience. Check out all the eco friendly plastic bags on Amazon, Eco Friendly Food Storage Bags.
4. Reuse Unbleached Parchment Paper
Butchers and grocers traditionally used parchment paper to wrap meat cuts and other foods. It was also one of the first ways to cover food for freezing.
Today, you have the option of buying either bleached or unbleached parchment paper. Bleached parchment paper is a lighter color but has been treated with chlorine, which could leak dioxin (a harmful substance) into the food when it is warmed 2.
This means if you are defrosting meat in a microwave using bleached parchment paper, there is a small risk it could leak small amounts of dioxin into your meat.
Therefore, unbleached parchment paper is a safer alternative and works very well by providing a protective covering for meat in the freezer 3.
Unbleached parchment paper can be reused many times and gently wiped down after each use. It is biodegradable, so once it has reached the end of its lifecycle, it can be torn up into tiny pieces and thrown on your compost heap.
5. Keep the Meat in Brown Paper Bags
Brown paper bags are handy and versatile as they can be used for several purposes. Thicker and stronger paper bags are most suitable for meat freezing because they are less likely to tear and expose the meat to freezer burn.
Paper bags you get at the supermarket are great for freezing meat because they are the perfect thickness for protecting the meat in the freezer.
Cut the paper bag to size to accommodate the amount of meat you need to freeze. Then wrap it securely, tying it with a piece of string or taping the edges down.
Alternatively, when you buy frozen goods from the grocery store, save the cardboard boxes they came in and reuse them to freeze your meat. This is a cheap and environmentally friendly option, and you can simply wipe the box down after use.
6. Store It in Tempered Glass Containers
Tempered glass containers are another great method for freezing meat because it can be reused almost indefinitely 4.
Tempered glass is toughened glass specially treated to withstand extreme fluctuations in temperature. Unlike regular glass containers, tempered glass will not crack and break in the freezer.
Examples of tempered glass containers include mason jars, ovenproof dishes and toughened glass storage containers.
When freezing meat in a tempered glass container, make sure there is a lid for the container. If not, wrap it with some heavy duty aluminum foil or a reusable wax wrap.
In addition, glass is readily recycled, hygienic and multi-purpose, making it essential for freezing, cooking and more. Tempered glass is much better than plastic for storage. Amazon has a wide variety in different shapes and sizes which you can check out here, Tempered Glass Food Containers.
7. Put the Meat in Layers of Muslin Bags
Muslin is a biodegradable fabric 5, taking only around 5 months to decompose fully on a compost heap.
Muslin bags and pieces of fabric can be used to wrap meat and then freeze it. Another advantage of muslin is it’s pretty inexpensive, and you can buy it cheaply at your local fabric or craft store.
Since it is quite porous, wrapping the meat a few times with the fabric to prevent a freezer burn is best. Large muslin bags and pieces of fabric are better options for meat freezing.
After using the muslin fabric for freezing, it can be washed then reused as often as you like. Check out Muslin bags on Amazon in all different sizes, Muslin Bags.
How Long To Freeze Meat
How long to freeze meat depends on the kind of meat you’re freezing 6. The following times are how long you can freeze meat:
- Freeze uncooked ground beef up to four months.
- Freeze uncooked steaks up to twelve months.
- Freeze uncooked chops up to twelve months.
- Freeze uncooked roasts up to twelve months.
- Freeze cooked meat up to three months.
How to Defrost Meat
How to defrost Meat? The best way to defrost meat is to transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator until it fully thaws.
If you need the meat defrosted faster, it can thawed in cold water. The meat should be wrapped in a leak proof wrap and immersed in cold water. Check the water frequently to make sure it remains cold. Change the water every 30 minutes until the meat is thawed 6.
If the bag leaks, bacteria from the air or surrounding area may contaminate the meat. Meat can be frosted in the microwave by following the defrosting instructions pertaining to your microwave.
Defrosted meat from cold water or the microwave should be cooked immediately. Especially the microwave where the process may have started cooking some areas of the meat.
Is 2 year old frozen hamburger still good? The USDA states frozen meat stored at zero degrees Fahrenheit will be safe. Although meat frozen for two years has lost its quality, texture, taste and flavor. Ideally hamburger should be frozen up to four months uncooked and three months cooked.
How can you tell if frozen meat is bad? The best way to tell if meat is bad is to check its odor. If the meat has a rancid or off odor, it should be discarded. Checking the color is less reliable because the bright red color of meat typically turns darker or pale brown depending on the variety.
How long can you freeze meat in its original packaging? Freeze meat in its original packaging no longer than two months. The original plastic wrap is permeable to air and diminishes the quality over time.
For longer than two months the meat should be over wrapped or placed into a freezer safe container 7.
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- Wikipedia: Beeswax wrap
- EPA: Dioxin
- Reynolds: Unbleached Parchment Paper Rolls
- Scientific American: How is tempered glass made?
- ScienceDirect: Characteristics of biodegradable textiles used in environmental engineering: A comprehensive review
- USDA: Freezing and Food Safety
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: Freezing Meats