It’s a pretty common misconception that freezing meat negatively impacts its flavor and nutritional potency. This doesn’t appear to be the case.
My brother, Jeremy, is surrounded by farmland in Northern California. A few days ago, he was raving to me about the virtues of living in the midst of such majesty. Actually, he was unabashedly boasting about his access to the earth’s finest produce and animal flesh.
I had visions of him strolling down a dirt road and striking up random chats with old dudes in overalls on tractors. In my brain, he’s sampling corn and blueberries daily and picking wildflowers on his way home, his Timberlands dusty from his travels.
The conversation led to Jeremy describing of his purchase of some unreasonably large portion of a cow and a pig, and how he is storing the meat. As we talked through it, my mind drifted towards my own possible acquisition of an outdoor freezer to house my new fantasy lineup of venison, fish, buffalo, etc.
Inevitably, our discussion regarding freezing and having conveniently on hand quality protein sources lead to the nutritional implications.
Freezing is the best method of extending the useful shelf life of meat. It preserves freshness, taste, nutritional value and quality. The freezing process itself does not destroy nutrients and there is little change in nutrient value during freezer storage.
There is some evidence that, in thawing the meat, a tiny portion of nutritional content can be lost. This could be said for cooking as well, but it’s worth noting.
From the same article:
Small amounts of nutrients (salts, peptides, amino acids, and water-soluble vitamins) may be lost as drip when the meat is thawed.
In a perfect world, we’d all take fish straight from the ocean to slice as sashimi or throw on the grill. I’d like nothing more than to grab a chicken from my property learn how to humanely slaughter it, and prepare fresh chicken broth with it that afternoon, feeding my family and perhaps another from the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, I work (well, I write this blog…does that qualify?), and I’m not a farmer, butcher or fisherman. I, like most people, need to find a way to balance convenience and nutrition.
Speaking of convenience, how nice would it be to not buy meat for a few months, and, in the process, save money?
Below is an example of the breakdown in cost for a side of beef from Kitchen Stewardship:
1 side of beef:
- Hang weight: 300 lbs
- Price/weight (payment to the rancher): $3.00/lb (could be up to $4.00/lb)
- Half of Slaughter Fee: $45
- Butcher Fees (payment to the butcher): $.80/lb cut and wrap
- Final amount of take-home/cut weight (70% of hang weight*): 210 lbs
- Total: $1185 for 210 lbs of beef
For the purpose of comparison, you can pick up grass fed ground beef at your leading retailer for roughly anywhere between 6-7 bucks a pound. At 7 bucks, 210 pounds of beef will cost you $1,470. In buying the whole side and doing the upfront work, you’re saving significant dollars, getting potentially higher quality meat and more desirable cuts (steaks versus hamburger, anyone?). Factor in the value of your time driving, shopping, gas, etc., and this is a worthwhile exploration indeed.
How long will it take me and my family to ingest this much deliciousness? I’m not sure, but I’m guessing we can knock it out in under ½ year.
The freshness of frozen meat can be maintained for up to 6 months under appropriate storage conditions while unrefrigerated meat can go stale and spoil within a day.
Bam. Stay tuned for part two, when I spotlight the how-to of this process. Give me some time to experience it for myself, I’ll be back to share shortly.