Vacuum Sealed Meat: The Full Guide (Benefits, Longevity & More)
Tired of having to cut all your meat up before every meal while preparing to cook? Or maybe you have thrown food away before you even had the chance to cook them?
I have the perfect solution for you – vacuum sealed meat is the way to go! It will revolutionize the way you cook, store and buy your meats.
In this article, I will cover the huge benefits you will experience from vacuum sealing your meat.
Then, I’ll show exactly how you can vacuum seal your meat, as well as teach you how long each type of meat can be preserved in both a freezer and a fridge.
Finally, when it’s time to prepare and eat your meals, the meat must be adequately defrosted. Well, you will learn the proper way to do so as well.
This article is packed with important information, so make sure you either bookmark it or take notes while reading through all the sections.
Let’s start with why you should seriously consider vacuum-sealing your meat.
What Are The Benefits Of Vacuum-Sealing Meat?
On top of extending shelf life, vacuum-sealed meat has a lot more advantages and benefits. It helps to eliminate freezer burn, increase storage space, improve food taste, save you money, reduce food waste and save you meal prep time.
Let’s take a deeper look into these benefits.
Eliminate freezer burn
Water in food forms ice crystals when frozen. These crystals evaporate in the fridge through a process called sublimation. This loss of water then causes the frozen meat to shrivel and become dry and tough.
This is referred to as freezer burn. Vacuum sealing your meat will protect it from coming in contact with air, thus preventing the food moisture from evaporating.
Keep food fresh for longer
Vacuum sealing meat increases the shelf life by anywhere between 3 to 5 times the standard duration. This means you can buy and store your meat for longer.
Food that would initially only last for a few months can be stored for up to 3 years in your freezer.
Increase storage space
When you vacuum seal meat, it can be stored in an organized manner. You no longer have to deal with clunky bags and packaging that the meat comes in.
Instead, meat can be vacuum-sealed in a way that allows you to stack them on top of each other and make efficient use of space – kind of like Tetris.
Improve food taste
Storing food without vacuum sealing it leads to loss of taste, moisture, and juices of the meat. Vacuum sealing prevents that from happening.
You can also marinade or even cook your meat before vacuum-sealing it. Since vacuum sealing increases shelf life, the spices have time to get absorbed into the meat and exponentially increase its flavor.
Bulk buy to save
Being able to store meat for a long time allows you to only buy meat when it is available at heavy discounts.
If you know to wait for the right time to buy your meat, you will never have to pay full price for your proteins ever again.
Simply buy them for pennies on the dollar and store them in vacuum-sealed bags for the rest of the year.
Reduce food waste
The amount of food we waste is a real tragedy. The amazing thing about vacuum sealing is you can store cooked leftovers as well.
A meal that you couldn’t finish last night can be stored and eaten weeks later. By then, due to the meat having more time to absorb the marinade, your leftovers will take even better than when you first had it.
Save meal prep time
With vacuum sealing your meat, you can portion control and store your food in bags with the exact amount that you need to eat per meal.
Doing that once every month or every few months will take away the hassle of cutting the meat before prepping it to be cooked. It is also a great way to ensure not to overeat.
How To Vacuum Seal Your Meat
Step 1: Remove store-bought from its packaging
Meat packaged by mass-producing factories can have moisture trapped in the wrap. It’s best to remove it from that packet and vacuum seal it correctly without any lingering air molecules in the packaging.
Store packaging can also have ink and other factory juices that could seep into your meat over time, which is harmful to ingest.
Step 2: Season the meat
Place the meat on a plate and make some incisions into the meat. Proceed to season it with your choice of spices and marinating ingredients.
If you are sealing chicken, you could also include a slice of lemon. If you want to keep it simple, just salt is fine.
Step 3: Place meat in a vacuum bag
Choose a vacuum bag that is slightly larger than the piece of meat on your plate – keep about 4 inches at the top.
The extra room is to ensure the vacuum machine doesn’t squish the meat. To further season the meat, you might include a clove of garlic inside the bag.
Step 4: Vacuum seal the bag using a machine
Depending on the vacuum machine that you invest in, instructions will differ on how to use it. Make sure to read and follow the instruction manual for your first few attempts until you get comfortable.
Step 6: Label it
After sealing the bag, label it. The label should have the use-by date, but it can also have the type of meat, cut and ingredients used to season it.
Step 7: Store it
That’s it! Your meat is ready to be stored in your freezer. If you aren’t too sure of how long each type of meat can be stored after being vacuumed sealed, I have a detailed list down below for your reference.
A little trick for when you are preparing meat patties for burgers is to freeze the patties for 15 minutes prior to vacuum sealing, as this will prevent the patties from losing shape when being compressed.
How Long Does Vacuum Sealed Meat Last In The Fridge?
- Beef – If properly sealed tight, beef can remain in the fridge for two weeks. Ground beef can only remain for 2 days after being defrosted. On the other hand, unsealed beef should only be kept for 3 to 5 days at most.
- Lamb – With proper vacuum sealing, lamb can last for up to 3 weeks in the fridge. Unsealed lamb will last for 3 to 5 days before it needs to be thrown out.
- Chicken – Unsealed chicken can be left in the fridge for up to 2 days, whereas sealed chicken will last up to 5 days.
- Turkey – With proper sealing, turkey can last you 10 days in a fridge. Without sealing, it will last up to 2 days.
- Pork – Larger cuts in good, sealed condition can remain for 2 weeks in the fridge after being defrosted. Smaller cuts will remain fresh for up to 5 days. Bacon will remain good for up to 7 days after defrosting. Unsealed, pork will last 3 to 5 days.
- Sausages – Unsealed, raw sausages should be kept in the fridge for 2 days. When sealed, it will last for 2 weeks in the fridge.
How Long Does Vacuum Sealed Meat Last In The Freezer?
- Beef – When vacuum sealed, raw beef can be kept anywhere between 1 to 3 years in the freezer. Unsealed, it can last anywhere between 1 to 12 months. Ground beef can only last for no more than 4 months.
- Lamb – Unsealed lamb can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. When properly sealed, lamb can be kept between 2 to 3 years.
- Chicken – Vacuum sealed chicken, cut in pieces, will last for 9 months, and a whole chicken will last for 12 months. Ground chicken can only last for up to 4 months.
- Turkey – Turkey can last for 12 months if properly sealed and wrapped. Unsealed, it will last you about 9 months.
- Pork – Pork can be kept anywhere between 6 to 12 months, unsealed, depending on the cut. Chops should be kept for under 6 months. When properly vacuum sealed, it can last up to 3 years. Ground pork will last about 4 months.
- Sausages – With raw sausages, regardless of whether it has been sealed or not, it can only be kept in the freezer for up to 2 months.
How To Defrost Vacuum-Sealed Meat
To start off, when it comes to defrosting, you need to plan ahead. Cut the meat into smaller portions so that it thaws out quicker and gives it time. Some can take well over 24 hours, depending on the size of the cut.
There are two ways you can approach defrosting or thawing your vacuumed sealed meat – refrigerating or bowl of water.
Method 1: Thaw It In Your Fridge
This is the best and safest way to defrost your meat. While the temperature is high enough for the meat to thaw, it is also low enough to prevent the bacteria from breeding, making the meat safe to eat.
This method also helps the meat retain texture and the steps to defrost or thaw meat is quite simple:
- Take the meat out of the freezer.
- While still in the vacuum-sealed bag, place the meat on a tray or container.
- Place the meat in the fridge for the time recommended below. The tray/container will prevent the juices from the frozen meat to drip onto other food stored in the fridge.
How Long Does Each Vacuum Sealed Meat Take To Defrost In The Fridge
- Chicken – You need a whole day to thaw a pound of ground chicken or two pounds of chicken breast. It can take up to five days for a five-pound bird or a large number of boned chicken pieces to thaw.
- Beef – Depending on cut size, it can take up to a day to thaw 5 pounds of beef. I have a comprehensive article on how to thaw steaks.
- Lamb – Slow fridge thaw can take up to 12 hours for lamb.
- Turkey – To safely defrost a turkey, you need to allow 24hours for every 5 pounds. A whole 15 pounds turkey can take three days to properly defrost.
- Pork – The entire process should take 24 hours for every 5 pounds of meat. Therefore, 12-pound pork can take up to 60 hours to thaw in the fridge. For a detailed guide, read how to thaw pork chops.
- Sausages – It takes anywhere between 6 to 8 hours to thaw sausages. When they are soft to touch within the packaging, they are good to go. I have a more in-depth article on how to defrost sausages.
Method 2: Thaw It In A Bowl Of Cold Water
This method is to thaw when in a rush, but it is highly advisable to use the first method. Shortcuts almost always yield less than ideal results.
However, sometimes it is unavoidable that we need to whip something up within the day. So, with that in mind, here are the steps to thawing meat using a bowl of cold water:
- Fill a large enough bowl with cold water
- Submerge meat into the water while still in a vacuum-sealed bag
- Change water every 30 minutes or when it gets warm
It is essential to use a bowl of cold water, NOT hot water. Bacteria will form in warm water, and the outside of the meat may start to cook while the inside remains raw.
Just make sure to change the water when you feel it start to get really cold.
How Long Does Each Vacuum Sealed Meat Take To Defrost In Water
- Chicken – If you are thawing ground chicken, it can take anywhere between 2 – 4 hours. If thawing pieces, you need to separate the pieces mid-thaw and then return them to cold water.
- Beef – A pound of meat can defrost within an hour by the cold-water method. Large cuts can take up to four hours.
- Sausages – Sausages can be defrosted in under an hour in cold water; however, they must remain sealed and not come in contact with the water.
- Bacon – Bacon should be defrosted in about half an hour. Make sure to keep the bacon sealed.
- Turkey – Turkey kept in cold water can take up to a day to defrost for every 20 pounds. Make sure to keep the meat sealed.
Vacuum Sealing Meat FAQs
Do you wash meat before vacuum sealing?
Meat must be thoroughly cleaned and dried immediately after bringing it home from the shops. Furthermore, if you are portion-controlling your meat, it is best to vacuum seal them in sizes that will cover each meal.
Does freezing raw food kill the bacteria?
Freezing doesn’t actually destroy the bacteria, yeasts, and mold that cause food spoilage and illness; it just prevents their growth. As foods are thawed, microorganisms can begin to grow.
How to prevent meat from sticking together when vacuum seal freezing?
You have two options:
- Use wax baking paper between meats as this separates them without retaining air bubbles.
- The other solution is to pre-freeze the meat and then vacuum-seal it. This prevents the meat from sticking.
How to check if vacuum-sealed meat has gone bad?
You can gauge if your meat has been spoiled by its color. If it has a dark purple tinge to it, the safest thing to do is get rid of it. Bacteria can still grow in an atmosphere without oxygen.
This can cause a subtle odor for the first 20 minutes of opening the vacuumed sealed meat. That should subside relatively quickly. If not, don’t take any chances.
Can you vacuum seal cooked meat?
Yes, you can vacuum seal cooked meat. It is an ideal way to save your leftovers for another day. A cooked, vacuum-sealed meal can last in the fridge for up to 14 days.
Why is there liquid after thawing vacuumed sealed raw meat?
This occurs due to freezing. The moisture in the cells expands and breaks down the cell wall when frozen. When thawing, this oozes out.
If you see liquid pooled around your meat when thawing, this is not a sign of spoilage. This is normal.
Will meat spoil if vacuum sealed?
Make sure not to include any harmful bacteria when sealing the meat. It is crucial that you adhere to the storage times mentioned in this article for leaving sealed and unsealed meat in both the fridge and freezer.
This way, you will always have fresh food to cook and will prevent potential food waste.