The Freezing/Defrosting Details…
I’ve been asked to do a lot of volunteer/donated fundraising dinners for wildlife habitat organizations, (over $300,000 raised for wildlife, so far). A figure I am very proud of, but that’s another story. In doing these fundraising dinners and dealing with a wide variety of donated meat products, I’ve found that many of us don’t take the time to properly care for the treasure’s buried in our freezers. With the hunt and meat pre-care over, it’s very easy to fall short when it comes to properly packaging, labeling, storing and understanding the effects of taking short cuts when it comes to pre-serving the integrity of your hard earned prizes. These little chunks of happiness will tell their story once they are removed from the freezer…simply put, “You get OUT what you put it IN. ”Taking the time to keep your meat cool, clean, properly identified and stored will get you closer to the results you deserve. Here’s what to be aware of:
Today’s Slow Defrosting Challenge – We all run at a very hectic pace. Most of us don’t think about what we are having for dinner until we get hungry. Throwing that frozen block of meat on the counter before you head to work is a perfect way to destroy the natural integrity of your meat. Here’s what happens to a frozen piece of meat as it sits on your counter top. The difference between a freezer (10°For less) and the counter top (70°F) is pretty substantial, at least in the world of moisture molecules. Every piece of meat has these little cells that hold in its natural moisture. Upon freezing, these cells expand just like a balloon that has been blown up. As they expand the outer cell wall becomes very fragile. When they go from a 10°F freezer to a 70°F counter top, it defrosts so quickly that the stretched cells remain stretched, the internal moisture defrosts and the thin cellular structure can’t hold its own weight and bursts. This is where that pool of mystery liquid comes from.To stop this purging we need to take some very simple steps. Mostly, become a little more organized. Take your meat from the freezer and place it into the refrigerator. Going from a 10°F freezer to a 35°F refrigerator is only 25°F difference. Now, those cells are defrosting much slower, and can slowly resend back to their original size and hold the weight of their internal moisture when it defrosts. This assures that the piece of meat you end up with is as close to the one that you put into the freezer. It should take approximately two to three days for a given block of meat to defrost under these conditions. Be patient and organized and give that meat a chance to “be all that it can be.”
Other areas of concern:
Proper Labeling – Avoid the mystery blocks of frozen matter in the bottom of your freezer. Label each piece with species, state, date and exact cut––eye round, top sir-loin, back-straps, etc. Leave the guessing to picking those winning lottery numbers, not selecting your next meal.
Selecting a Freezer – Frost-Free Freezers, although very labor friendly, they play a big part in generating freezer burn. These units go through a slight heating cycle to remove the moisture and frost that accumulates. Each time this happens a microscopic layer of your meat defrosts, purges moisture and then refreezes. This may not seem substantial but if you count the number of cycles a freezer goes through over a year or two it’s enough to purge the moisture out of your frozen meat and cause freezer-burn. This is more likely to happen in areas that are loosely wrapped. Double wrapping and vacuum bags will help eliminate air gaps.
Double wrap: First step wrap as tight-ly as possible with cellophane and then butcher paper. The double layer gives you superior insulation and reduces air gaps.
Double Wrap, Shrink Wrap, or both – Eliminating the air gaps reduces the freezer burn opportunity and gives your meat the opportunity for a maxi-mum freezer life.
For more information visit.