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How long can I freeze a pig whole? How can I keep it from getting freezer burned?

We are having a wedding in September and it's June but the pig is already currently at the size we need it to be. I was told that the pig will get freezer burned by then.

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    I would be most interested to know what kind of freezer equipment you have. Anything less than commercial grade and I would stongly advise against trying to freeze a whole pig. – Richard ten Brink Jun 14 '16 at 12:07
  • @RichardtenBrink Can you articulate why? What about the wide consumer stand-alone freezers? Do commercial freezers freeze better? – Insane Jun 14 '16 at 16:51
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    @Insane I should think that they generally freeze colder and are bigger and are less prone to temperature fluctuations. – Catija Jun 14 '16 at 16:59
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    @Insane commercial freezers for quick freezing (a) run much colder than a home fridge; (b) have fans to further speed cooling. For storage, they also run colder. – derobert Jun 14 '16 at 17:25
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    my suggestion is to fin another pig that can be ready in time for the wedding and keep this one for yourself; butcher it and store in small chunks. – Max Jun 14 '16 at 18:37
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I agree with the comment by Richard ten Brink: you can't really do this in a home freezer and expect good results. Even with a large home chest freezer, it will take way too long for a whole carcass to freeze all the way through. Freezing requires a lot more energy than maintaining something that's already frozen, and the process for a pig carcass would probably take several days (depending on the size of the pig). You'd likely get significant quality degradation during the freezing process itself: slower freezing means more damage to cells, which affects meat quality when defrosted, not to mention that it could take many days for the interior to freeze solid (which could also impact quality).

And "freezer burn," by the way, isn't necessarily caused by long storage: it's the result of poor packing, usually combined with temperature cycling in a freezer, which allows air near the surface of food to lead to oxidation and dehydration. Yes, a poorly packaged food will get worse over time, but a properly packaged food will last years in the freezer with no freezer burn. (For a whole hog, you'll need a large chest freezer at home, preferably one without an auto-defrost cycle.)

Anyhow, my personal recommendation would be to seek out a local meat packer or meat processor with access to a commercial freezer. (Perhaps there's someone who people take game meat to for processing or something?) Ask them if they'd be willing to freeze the carcass after slaughter and vacuum seal it for you. The vacuum sealing will significantly help to prevent freezer burn. I don't know whether vacuum packing is feasible depending on how large the pig is (many processors only do it with small whole pigs), but that would be your best bet.

They'd also be able to advise you on the feasibility of freezing a larger pig for that long if they can't vacuum seal it. But my guess is that it should be fine for a few months if you can keep it consistently below 0F and away from temperature cycling.

  • Are there any consumer-in-price commercial freezers? Might be worth noting why it would be impossible (or not) (due to cost) for someone to just buy one themselves. Obviously I don't mean getting a walk in freezer installed in your home. – Insane Jun 14 '16 at 17:35
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    @Insane - It's not just the "commercial" status of the freezers, but their overall size and power. There are relatively small commercial freezers like you'd find in a small restaurant (which aren't that pricey). But they also wouldn't really be the best way to freeze a whole pig -- they simply wouldn't have the necessary power to freeze it as quickly as a meat packer's larger freezer. – Athanasius Jun 14 '16 at 17:55
  • Ah, I got ya :-) – Insane Jun 14 '16 at 18:32

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