Lunch meats include all kinds of cured meats and cold cuts, including luncheon meat and ham. Since these are processed meats, many people ask, “can you freeze lunch meat?” The good news is you can begin freezing lunch meats today because freezing has no impact on the taste and texture of deli meats. So if you have been asking, “can I freeze lunch meat?” you know the answer now. But how you can do that, let’s take a closer look.
Can You Freeze Lunch Meat?
Freezing lunch meat often scares people because they know that any meat or food, for that matter, that has been exposed to room temperature can grow bacteria faster. Fortunately for us who scrimp and save whenever we can, it is not dangerous to store and freeze deli meat.
You don’t have to throw away another half-eaten pack of sliced deli meat because you can instead freeze the leftovers. Considering the number of recipes you can do with leftover sliced deli meat, it doesn’t make sense to throw away half-eaten packs or packs with 1/3 or ¼ of the sliced lunch meat remaining. Why throw away perfectly good lunch meat?
If you want deli meat that can be frozen months easily, we recommend sausages, pepperoni, and bologna. These deli meats are excellent for long-term freezing because they contain so little water. As you may know, it’s the water that causes problems with freezing.
More water content in the food means worse crystallization, and the crystallization causes issues with the flavor and texture of food. This is why we never freeze fruits after soaking them, because the crystallization is going to cut through the delicate flesh of the fruit, and you are going to get a watery mess afterward when you finally thaw the fruit.
If you are ready to begin freezing lunch meat, follow these guidelines:
- For a more relaxing time, storing, portioning, and freezing meat always goes for the pre-packed and pre-sliced products. The cold cuts are already in manageable servings, you don’t have to slice through hard meats, and you can plan, so you don’t even have to store leftovers anymore. Will there be more expensive? By a small percentage, yes.
- Pre-packed deli meats are also vacuum-sealed, so you won’t have to worry about air causing issues with the meat. Using a vacuum sealer on leftover meats is also a good idea, not just for deli meats but also for other kinds of food that need to be stored for the long term.
- One of the most significant issues with frozen meat is freezer burn. Freezer burn affects all kinds of food. If you have an extra-efficient freezer at home that is constant with its temperature, you can probably add a layer of protection for your meats. Aluminum foil is often used to protect the protein from instances of freezer burn. This solution is cheap, and you can easily buy several rolls of aluminum foil if you plan to store several pounds of lunch meat.
- If there are any leftover lunch meats in a package, we recommend wrapping individual pieces with some wax paper. Layer the slices of meat in a Ziploc bag and protect the bunch with some aluminum foil to stave off any freezer burn. Make sure that you recorded the exact date when you froze the deli cuts.
- The ideal time for freezing opened deli meat or lunch meat is two months. Deep-freezing the meat will likely extend the life of the frozen meat, but then you’d need a chest freezer for this kind of freezing, or at least a genuinely efficient refrigerator.
How to defrost lunch meat?
The safest way to thaw deli meats is by placing the food in the refrigerator for 24 hours or more. This method is safest because the cold temperature of the refrigerator prevents the proliferation of bacteria as the meat thaws.
Admittedly, this technique isn’t very efficient and may not be the best if you are hungry or have guests coming over.
The next best method for thawing lunch meat is putting the unopened pack of deli meat in a large basin or bowl of water. The water has to be refreshed every thirty minutes to speed up the thawing.
The third option is using the defrost option of your microwave oven. Check your meat every few minutes to ensure that the light heat is not cooking the meat as it defrosts. Defrosting properly with a microwave oven takes practice, and you need to check now and then. Different brands of microwave ovens have different standards as to what thawed food should look like – be careful.
How Long Can I Keep Lunch Meat in The Refrigerator?
Can lunch meat be frozen?
Lunchmeat or deli meat can be safely frozen. However, if you keep the deli meat in the refrigeration and not the freezer, the maximum time for storage is three to four days and no more than that. If you want to freeze deli meat, do so after preparing your meal and not leave the deli meat at room temperature for long. As long as you return the pack to the freezer quickly, there should be any issues.
How Long Does Thawed Lunch Meat Last?
Thawed lunch meat should be consumed immediately. After thawing a partially consumed package, any leftovers should be removed and disposed of. The ideal range for keeping cooked meat outside is about four hours. This is the ideal and safest range for keeping cooked meats.
Cooked meats can be refrigerated or frozen again. Cooked meats can be refrigerated for four days’ maximum. Cooked meats can be frozen for months. Cooking removes bacteria and other contaminants from the equation until the pathogens affect the meat again.