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Meat storage " freezing"

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi to everyone,
My question is about meat freezing. I buy my beef by the loin, and have it cut into steak's. In the past i will wrap a steak in plastic wrap, them wrap it in foil, then place it in the freezer. I was told that i could not do all that wraping, and just use freezer bag's, without the fear of having my meat spoil or get freezer burn. I do use freezer bag's for chicken, and thing's like that. I was just wondering about the bag's working good on beef.
Thank you for your help.
John, aka, malecook.
post #2 of 14
I do the same Malecook.

In the process, I learned 2 things:
1. Freezer burns happen less in chest freezers because they do not have a defrost cycle (temp goes up to thaw the ice then refreeze). The freeze/thaw cycle in frost free refrigerators plus opening and closing the fridge are the main source cause of freezer burn. Very little temp variations happen in a chest freezer because even open the cold air stays in the chest because it is denser hence heavier then the warm air around.
2. Freezing your piece individually and quickly also is a key. I place my steaks in one layer on steel cookie sheets cover with a wax paper to prevent drying then place them in freezer compartment of the fridge overnight. It has more freezing power then a chest so freezes quickly. I throw the individual pucks in freezer bags then store in the chest freezer. (I have been known to utilize very cold winter days (minus 30C) to do the same outside... much quicker!)
3. the best way to defrost is in the fridge overnight.

If not sealed properly a defrost freezer will wreck havoc on anything frozen. Chest freezers are more forgiving.

(i wrote a small public interest article on the subject, If you would to read it, I can post or send)

Luc H
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #3 of 14
Please post or provide a link. I, for one, enjoy what you have to say and often learn something or derive more questions ffrom your posts and commentaries.

Shel
post #4 of 14
Just for the record, Luc, you can still buy upright freezers that do not have the frost-free feature.

Not all of them are zero-degree freezers, however, whereas most chest types are.

The chest types work better for two reasons, both of which you alluded to. First, they are colder, as a rule, than uprights. And second, they don't get opened near as often. Not if they're being used correctly.

There is an additional problem with just tossing meat (or, to put a point on it, chicken, veggies, or anything else) in freezer bags. And that's the presence of air inside. Air suchs the moisture out of the food, thus drying the surface (which is what freezer burn is). So if you use freezer bags, and store the food for any length of time, it's imperative that you remove all the air; either with a vacumn pump or by submerging it in water.

Double wrapping, Malecook, as you're been doing with film and foil, assure that no air contacts the meat.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #5 of 14
how can I refuse a comment like that especially from Shel.

KYH, you precisions are well placed but an upright (even not frost free) has more temperature swings just because the cold air basically pours out of it when opened and once closed required additional work to bring down the temp. What temp variations do is change the amount of water vapour the frozen food will let go due to the temporary <warmth> in the freezer hence the meat will dry slightly everytime. Overtime snow will appear. Again, a chest minimizes this affect because the cold air stays put.

I tried vacuuming and submerged the bag to air out. The results do not differ that much from what I do now. I have kept many meats for months to a year without burns (snow yes but not burns). The snow appears mainly because I open and close resealable bags taking what I need only and leaving the rest in the freezer. This action changes the water vapour considerably in the bag.
I guess if you have a vacuum gadget around the house, use it but I caution to vacuuming extensively frozen food because that also changes the water vapour pressure dynamics (sometimes increasingly). The best thing to do, I found is to adhere wax paper on the cut sides on the meat while its fresh. once frozen that prevents some surface to vent water vapour while frozen but I abandoned that because I have seen minor improvements.


The article:

A cool topic

From the icebox to today’s stainless steel behemoths, we have increased our dependence on refrigeration, a boon for food storage. For the <domestic food provider>, that’s my job at home, knowing how a refrigerator works is useful information to properly use this essential kitchen appliance effectively.

We all know the term <freezer burn> or witnessed at least once, a forgotten frozen something with a tear in the wrapping that appeared to have dried beyond recognition. Storage bags and vacuum packing machine manufacturers tell us their products can avoid <the burn>. They work somewhat but do not address the real problem: the physics behind the refrigerator. In my childhood, a freezer was a small metal box with a door surrounded by a cooling coil fasten to the ceiling inside the actual refrigerator. A refrigeration coil basically draws heat, not air, from the interior of the refrigerator to exhaust it outside. Physics states that cold air is denser hence heavier then warm air. By placing the freezer box above, warm air rises to it, cools then falls back down to refrigerate the entire space. Open the door and all the cold air pours out. Physics also explains that warm air holds more moister, water vapour, then cold air. This means that as the coils draw the heat from the air, the water vapour escapes the cooling air by condensation then freezes. Overtime, a thick ice sheet accumulates on the coils. I have childhood memories of my Mother defrosting the refrigerator: unplug the appliance, open the door and let the ice melt.

Although the mechanism of frost free refrigerators of today works on the same principle, they solved this ice build up inconvenience by cycling the temperature of the freezer compartment periodically using modern electronics. Once and a while the freezer temperature goes above freezing so that any accumulated ice melts away, down a drain, to never accumulate. This cycling has the cumulative effect of drying the air hence dehydrating everything in the refrigerator. Overtime this effect causes the dreaded freezer burn of improperly sealed food. In the case of sealed frozen food, the temperature cycling coaxes a little food surface ice to evaporate, which then refreezes in the surrounding sealed air pocket explaining why snow crystals accumulates inside the bag. Storage bags may prevent <the burn> but not the snow and vacuuming may worsen this affect. Note that the refrigerator dehydration worsens the harder the appliance works like during summer.

Next week: What to do? freezing and refrigeration tips.

Another cool topic

Today’s frost free refrigerators dehydrate everything stored in it. Here are some generic tips to cope with this flaw.

Because fresh fruits and vegetables are plant materials that contain water on a cellular level refrigerating them is tricky. Plant tissue is like a sealed garbage bag filled with 100 water filled balloons. If the balloons are filled really big and firm with water, the garbage bag will be sturdy. If the balloons have less water, the garbage bag will be limp. Over time, fresh fruits and vegetables get limp in the refrigerator because their cells, analog to balloons, lose their water by evaporation. Here are some refrigeration tricks I developed by observations and research over the years. The following foods need to be washed, rinsed and dried then sealed in a bag or container: Leafy greens like lettuce, chard, spinach. For broccoli, cut ½ inch (1-2 cm) off the foot. Let it stand upright in cold water like a flower bouquet for about 1 hour. If it was a little limp, it will firm up. The same technique applies for celery but cut off both top and foot.

Small fruits like grapes, strawberries, boysenberries, blueberries should be washed only prior to eating but must be sealed to refrigerate. Root vegetables do better in a cool, dry and dark place but not everybody has a root cellar. You can store unwashed rutabagas, carrots, celeriac and parsnips but not potatoes. Refrigeration causes cold induce sweetening and softening of potatoes.

Citrus fruits with their thick skins and apples resist dehydration well so they do not require to be sealed. Ripening fruits like pears, peaches, bananas and even tomatoes fair better on the counter then the refrigerator. They do not store well for extended periods so plan to consume them within a week. Forget raspberries and eat them as soon as possible.

Because of the defrost cycle of upright modern refrigerators, storing frozen foods should be considered only for short periods. For prolong storage, one should consider a chest freezer. They constantly maintain a freezing temperature. The chest configuration also prevents losing all the cold air when open unlike an upright. The cold air stays put because it’s heavier then warm air hence freezer burn and snow are kept to a minimal. To avoid storage temperature swings, freeze your food in the refrigerator freezer first then transfer it to the chest. Well sealed frozen food can be kept for months. Ice cream stores better in a chest freezer.

I did not answer a question you have? Just ask me.

Luc H offers home cooking, family nutrition and basic food science classes in and around Montreal.

Luc H
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #6 of 14
I use a FoodSaver. Because the vacuum process can pull out some moisture, I tuck a folded paper towel strip across the top of the bag above the food so any juices/moisture are absorbed there and don't interfere with the vacuum process. I've done this for several years. In my freezer at the momen are a beef tenderloin portion, two NY strip steaks and a beef loin roast (bone-in). All were purchased on sale. I thaw them in the fridge, still sealed, and if I have to accelerate the thawing I can put the whole bag in cool water without affecting the meat's flavor.
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post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

Meat freezing pt 2.

I just want to say thank you for your advice. A person said that they have a food saver. I have one as well. If it came to useing that, i would. But for now i will stick with the double wraping of the meat. I may find a way of useing the food saver way, to store meat. But that is a way's from now. I have plenty of meat froozen.
Anyone here ever buy the omaha steak's? I have ordered a trial order from them. It should arrive this week.
Ok thank you for your advice.
Malecook, aka john.
post #8 of 14
Way overpriced. Do you have a good local butcher or a local farmer's market? The steaks are just run of the mill with a hefty price tag.

Shel
post #9 of 14
Wow! Those were 2 really great and informative articles.
What is your opinion of fridges w/ the bottom freezer. I know chest freezers(I have one) are best but I want a new fridge!

canadiangirl
post #10 of 14
Omaha steaks used to be prime 20 years ago.
post #11 of 14
We shopped for a new fridge 4 years ago. We wanted to go for the bottom freezer tray (or even the door) because my wife is a tad vertically challenged (tippy toe to the top freezer). We were not able to purchase one because they were all too wide for the room we had. We went for a m-a-y-t-a-g that has 2/3 fridge and 1/3 top freezer. Solved the height problem somewhat. I like it. I researched the fact that they use a circular heat exchange coil used in soft drink vending machines. Apparently vending machines are equipped with that configuration because dust/sand/dirt doesn't clog the exchanger as easily hence less maintenance.

One thing to remember is the compressor is often at the bottom which takes away some space for a bottom freezer.

Luc H
I eat science everyday, do you?
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #12 of 14
I am also a little vertically challenged so my fridge freezer is packed(Ya, I hate to waste any food) So I have the stuff in the back go bad cuz I can't see what is there. My grandma had one (bottom freezer) many years ago and I remember just opening the drawer and being able to see quickly what treat I wanted! I figure the less time the door is open the least energy is wasted.

canadiangirl
post #13 of 14
Malecock, we went for one of Omaha's trail orders 'bout a year ago. Worst decision of my life.

Their meat is way overpriced and way under qualitied. Indeed, I've never before seen filet minons that had strips of gristle running through their centers. Their other steaks (once we'd chased them down---Omaha neglected to put them in the box the first time) were, at best, so-so.

Cuts are on the small side, as well. And they include lots of really worthless things, like stuffed fish filets (inedible) and potato puffs that melt in the oven.

I reckon, once you factor in the hot dogs and hamburgers they include in the trial order, that the usable meat averaged around 18 bucks a pound.

Live and learn, they say. And I guess I did. Told them to stop calling, stop sending flyers, stop sending catalogs. I'm just not interested in their sub-standard stuff.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #14 of 14
I too use a food saver. But typically I'll add some age to the steaks. All this involves is putting the meat portion in a food saver bag, seal and place in the bottom drawer (we have a custom setting for meats. It holds the temp at 32deg F.) for anywhere's from 14 to 28 days extra. I do flip the packages over every couple days to prevent the pooling of blood on one side. Then off to the freezer. Never had issue one with quality and the added age really adds to the steaks flavor and tenderness.
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