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My local stores for some odd reason sells chicken legs for about 1.5 EUR per kg, they are not old products according to the packages. I have made a lot of chicken soup lately but I am starting to get enough. If I buy it a lot and freezes it, how long does it last and which factors do I need to consider with frozen meat? I had lately one package 2 days old and I just moved it to fridge because I cannot consume too much meat.

Please, suppose I have a large freezing box empty, I am not worried about space. Suppose that I am freezing my chicken for future chicken soups.

Related questions

  1. I am more interested in whether the chicken may become bad or something like that and how should I process it differently to non-freezed chicken? Question here.
  2. Does the chicken change over time and how long is it wise to have the chicken frozen? Like does the nutritional profile of chicken change? The fats will surely go bad (not verified) but are there some other factors? Because of fat spoiling, is it better idea to freeze non-fatty parts of meat? Question here.
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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I suggest you read the transcript to the Good Eats show on freezing, or, better yet, find a copy of the episode to watch. (Good Eats is an American TV show focusing on food science.) Here are some relevant excerpts:

[In the freezer,] any present bacteria are going to have a devil of a time finding the moisture they require to live, breed, survive. Since they themselves contain a considerable dose of H2O, freezing halts bacterial activity altogether, though some of the little beasties can survive to decompose another day. While it is in this frozen state, the meat will remain unspoiled for years. But there's a problem. You see, home freezers work very slowly. That means that as those little H2Os start to line up inside, they'll create huge, sharp, jagged crystals that will rise up, slicing and dicing their way through cell walls, muscle fibers, and pretty much anything else that gets in the way. Now while frozen, you won't notice this damage. But when it comes time to thaw, all of those perforated cells will start to leak out moisture all over the place. It's called drip loss and it's not a sign of good eats.

Therefore, if you are buying the meat fresh (i.e., it is not already frozen), then you need to take special care in how you freeze it:

One good way to prevent drip loss is to freeze the target food very, very quickly to a very, very low temperature. So that instead of creating huge, jagged, nasty ice crystals, you get very, very tiny little ice crystals.

The episode goes on to describe a process for freezing meats at home (basically, the idea is to use small pieces of meat, freeze them separately on a sheet tray, and then once they are frozen transfer them to a bag for long-term storage).

Even though the meat will technically be safe to eat for years, there are a few caveats. For one thing, the environment in the freezer is very dry. That can cause moisture on the surface of the meats to sublimate and form ice crystals, otherwise known as freezer burn. This can be avoided by packaging the meat in a vacuum (e.g., vacuum sealed bags), however, if you don't have a good vacuum sealer, I would suggest limiting their freezing to 6 or 8 months in order to avoid freezer burn. Another reason to make sure you use an air-tight container is that fats are very good at picking up flavors of other items you might have in the freezer.

I am fairly certain the "fats will surely go bad" claim is a myth, especially since fat alone is a good preservative. Perhaps you should ask that question on Skeptics.SE.

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I like stocking up on cheap cuts of meat like this, and using the methods you mention to preserve them. A vaccum sealer is your friend. If you can't afford one, then either pick up the ziploc vaccum bags, or just squeeze as much air out as you can. This is great for cheaper cuts of meat; pork steaks, hamburger, stew meat, chicken, etc. I like to separate the chicken into stuff to cook, and parts to make stock (a breast, a couple legs, a thigh, etc.). For good cuts like steaks, probably better to buy as you need it. Most my stuff lasts up to a year without quality loss, but YMMV. –  JSM Jun 2 at 17:04

The question of a "Good Idea" comes down to what is of personal value to you. If putting chicken that has been discounted .5EUR takes up space that could be occupied in your freezer by Beef that has been discounted 1 EUR then it might not be a 'good idea'. On the other hand if you will never use that beef, but you will use the chicken then it becomes a better idea. Some of the considerations that might play into your personal calculus could be:

  • What else could occupy that space? (and, How big is the freezer?)
  • Chicken is not very seasonal, are there seasonal items that I might be better served by freezing?
  • Will You Use the Chicken before it goes on sale again?
  • How much are you actually saving?
  • Are you likely to want to have the chicken on hand "spontaneously"?

Personally I keep quite a bit of chicken on hand in my freezer, but more for the last reason than the monetary savings.

As for duration, if you chicken is vacuum sealed then it should last in the freezer a year or slightly more, provided it was fresh when you put it to the freezer. Loosely wrapped chicken is more likely to 'freezer burn'. I doubt the nutritional value would change significantly from the freezing as much as from what ever cooking choice you make after thawing.

If you are keeping chicken in the freezer longer than that you should perhaps reconsider your buying habits.

Keeping food in the freezer that long is a futures investment not a grocery decision. ;o)

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Cos Callis: good points, I have specified new questions to address issues what I was looking with this question. But yes you are right here -- how long do you usually keep meat in freezing box? Like can you eat 1 year old chicken from freezing box or 1 month old? –  user2954 Jul 30 '11 at 17:18
    
Cos Callis: I see my fridge and freezing box more as a portfolio rather than an eating box. The video in the other reply described well the content as "assets". Your duration estimate resonates with the other reply about 1 year in the video. +1 for personal reply, liked that. –  user2954 Jul 30 '11 at 20:46

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