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Old 08-21-2006, 11:15 AM   #11
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Here's a great "freezer" story for you - about a year or so after we moved to our farm here, one of our neighbors called one late Saturday afternoon & invited us over for an impromptu barbecue.

Get this - & I swear to God this is the absolute truth - he told me they were cleaning out all the old stuff from their downstairs freezer & cooking everything up. Anything that they couldn't eat would be chopped up for the dogs.

Needless to say, I politely declined the invitation.

Edited to add: I vote with the party who questioned the freshness of the meat when your mother froze it. I'm very conscious of freezer burn, & recently while cleaning out my freezer, came across both a small steak & a package of loin lamb chops that I had forgotten about. Had to have been in there for a good 6 months. Over the next couple of days cooked up both of them & had them myself for lunch. They were both delicious - no signs or taste of freezer burn!!! And both had been stored in their supermarket styrofoam trays, etc.

Go figure.

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Old 08-21-2006, 12:22 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Michael in FtW
...the rate of freezing is far less significant than the packaging.
That's very true, especially when it comes to the sort of problems described in this thread. Nonetheless, freezing, especially home freezing, is simply not good for meat, regardless of how well the meat's packaged. I find that freezing affects both taste and texture of the meat. That's not so noticeable in a stew or pot roast or something similar, but it's unacceptable to me in steak.

Freezing damages food because it causes the water in the individual cells to expand and rupture, making the item noticeably mushy when it is unfrozen and eaten. Flash freezing, such as done in commercial slaughter houses immediately after the meat is butchered, is less of a problem. Flash freezing uses extremely low temperatures and freezes the meat in seconds, generally in special cryogenic packaging. Because it's so quick, flash freezing has less affect on meat (the water freezes too quickly to rupture the cells), although cellular damage can occur as the meat is defrosted.

It's also important to realize that regardless of how it's done, freezing does not stop the deterioration of food -- it only slows it down. It hinders the growth of germs, but it does not necessarily kill them, and naturally occurring enzymes continue to break down the food, albeit more slowly. The bottom line is that frozen food is good for only a few months, especially if the temperature in the freezer is allowed to rise above 0 degrees Fahrenheit (e.g., by frequently opening the freezer door).

In any case, based on a lifetime of experience with frozen foods, I won't pay $10 a pound and up for any meat that's been frozen. (Shrimp is an exception -- virtually all shrimp in the market is flash frozen.) But, I live in a large metropolitan area, so plenty of nearby markets and butcher shops are always available. If I had to drive 30 miles to buy my meat, I'd probably compromise by having fewer steaks and more stews -- which I like at least equally well. (My dad was a steak freak, and we ate it so often when I was a kid that I got tired of it, so now it's got to be really special for me to sit up and say "Wow!").

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Old 08-21-2006, 12:34 PM   #13
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In the freezer too long, probably next to some sort of seafood. I freeze beef all the time and don't find that it changes the flavor (personal opinion) but anything that hits the bottom of the freezer and becomes forgotten will lose flavor (or in your case, maybe gain a flavor you don't want!). It also can lose texture -- become very dried-out. I always double-wrap any seafood I put in the freezer because it can really infect the other food.
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Old 08-21-2006, 02:18 PM   #14
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I know that freezing does affect taste and texture but I have no problem with it. I believe proper prep before freezing is key to success. First, I never freeze meat in it's grocery store packaging. I always remove the product, wash it, dry it and then wrap in plastic wrap, then foil and finally put it in a freezer bag (with as much air removed as possible). I've never had a problem with freezer burn or an off taste, but I rarely leave it in my freezer for more than a few months. That being said, fresh is always best though.
"You wouldn't know a diamond if you held it in your hand. The things you think are precious I can't understand" STEELY DAN.
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Old 08-21-2006, 03:20 PM   #15
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It's not recommended to freeze meat in the container it comes in from the market. Everything I've ever read about freezing meat says to remove it from the container and double wrap, first in plastic wrap, then in freezer paper. I usually use a zip-lock freezer bag, as well.

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