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The dramatic effects of freezing something almost always has an immediate impact on taste. But it seems like the longer something is in the freezer the worse it tastes. Recently, I found some months old raw chicken in the back of the freezer and it definitely tasted slightly strange.

So, beyond the initial freezing process, how long can you store frozen chicken before being frozen affects its taste?

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    raw chicken, or previously cooked? – Joe Jan 18 '11 at 22:29
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    Please... should be "affects its taste", not "effects it's taste". (Good question, though.) – Neil Fein Jan 19 '11 at 3:27
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    Aside from initial quality, post-thawed quality depends on the freezer and even the location within it. Things I keep in a door of the frost-free freezer over my fridge can get quite freezer "burned" within a month. Takes much longer for that to happen to something in the colder and lesser air current of a top-open deep freeze. In a good freezer, I'd say 3-6 months is not a problem. – zanlok Jan 19 '11 at 21:06
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The change in flavor is mainly affected by packaging and how long before it gets frozen.

Packaging: If you have vacuum sealed chicken it will last quite a while. It won't get freezer burnt, dry out or pick up flavors from other freezer occupants. I would say properly packaged will last months to a year range depending on your taste buds.

Time before freezing: I have a habit of buying meat to cook right away, but end up freezing it raw several days after the fact. I then see it a week or two later and pull it out to cook. It never tastes as good as when I freeze it immediately.

2

As Wulfhart mentioned the packaging and time before freezing are very important, other major factors are the temperature food is stored at and the speed freezing takes place. Food bought frozen is flash frozen to minimise the size of water crystals which form in the process. This minimises the impact on flavour and texture.

If you freeze food at home, use the fast freeze option if you have one (these usualy take your freezer to about -26°C) then this will be better than freezing at -18°C (normal freezer temperature) but not as good as flash freezing.

The temperature of your freezer is affected by how full your freezer is, how well you maintain it (keeping it from icing up) and the quality of your freezer. If your freezer is constantly at or below -18°C and the chicken was bought frozen tests have shown little measurable change at 12 months.

If your freezer is not cold enough, changes temperature a lot or was frozen slowly, then larger ice crystals form and the changes you mentioned occur.

1

There was a question about freezing fish recently which was similar (but had the overtone of food safety, not taste). Personally, I only like to freeze meat for up to a month (on the top end). I find that unless it is really, really well protected, anything more than that has a really noticeable effect. However, there are some cuts, like ground beef, that I will keep longer, simply due to the type of dish that they are being used in.

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I found myself in a situation and now I even can call it a 'hobby' of always getting my meats at a really low price. So when I go to my store and I see the sale I get pounds and pounds of Chicken Pork and Beef meats. What I do (like someone else stated above) I take the meat out of the packaging cut it in pieces (if needed, like a whole pork 'roast') put about 3 'pieces' in a bag and immediately freeze it (put it in the freezer), even if I end up using it the next day. And since its a "big" amount of meat that I get at a time, it lasts me for about 6 months. So just want to mentioned that because I freeze these meets right when I come from the store, even after 6 months the chicken that I unfreeze and bake, and porch chops that I fry, ect, REALLY taste like I just picked them up yesterday. So don't worry about the taste of frozen meats... as long as you freeze then "immediately" (or within 3 days or so) and as for storage time, I just taken out a frozen pack of chicken necks that I bought on August 2016 and its end of March 2017 now, this is the longest time ive kept a meat frozen, so that's why im on Bing searching for 'frozen meat keep time' and most if not all websites (including the government's foodsafety.gov) mention up to 1 (one) year for Poultry (like chicken and turkey) 'meats' and between 6 and 12 months for any other meat (like Beef, Veal, Lamb & Pork).

And by the way all the 'meat' I mentioned was fresh (before expiration date) and raw. I didn't check the 'freeze times' for cooked meats.

PS when the chicken necks unfreeze and ill cook them I will let you guys know how they tasted right away ;)

UPDATE -- just want to give you guys a quick update. The chicken necks unfroze and I went on the Bing Search spree because when I took the chicken necks out of the freezer they looked brown, almost black, but when they unfroze now, they are TOTALY back to their normal 'fresh' color, light pink. Just wanted to mention this because if you notice that 'dark color' in your prolonged frozen meat you shouldn't get worried or alarmed. So now im going to put them in a pot and give you the final 'taste update' in just a few hours. :)

FINAL UPDATE -- yes! the taste is 95% delicious, its 'still' REALLY good. I say only 95% because I noticed that some of the chicken necks (literally like 3 or 4) out of the whole pack had a tiny taste of, what I can describe as, "old water". It REALLY didn't matter at all as even with these 3 necks "effected" they still tasted 'normal'. Plus there was an odor to the meat, which I just think it was odor of the freezer, as its been there long. But after rinsing with water there was no smell. Just to tell you the exact time they were frozen.. it said 'Sell By' date of August 24th 2016, so I bought them about 5 days earlier, and they have been sitting in the freezer this whole time and its March 19th 2017 today. So in conclusion yes you can keep a fresh/raw meat in freezer for up to a year and the taste is great... so don't worry :)

  • just want to mention to, use your judgment when unthawing and cooking meat... because if it smells or tastes bad its better just to get a new "batch" :)

and sorry for this novel size of a 'tale' :)~ ... I hope you didn't get annoyed by the length. Thanks for reading :) and hope it helped.

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