It's great when you see good deals for lamb chops on the grocery. As you put them in your cart, you're already thinking about how to cook them for a special dinner sometime in the future. At the same moment, you're also wondering how long you can keep your lamb meat in the freezer. Well, we've got the answer here after consulting the specialists.
Meat experts say that lamb will keep safe in the freezer indefinitely as long as you follow the recommended storage procedures. But to be certain that you enjoy this meat in its best quality, be sure to use your raw cuts of lamb within 4 to 12 months and your ground lamb meat in 3 to 4 months. Meanwhile, cooked lamb dishes will last 3 months in the freezer.
Hang on because we'll tell you more about what happens to lamb when it freezes. We'll also share tips on how to store your lamb meat properly so that it will stay fresh for a long time.
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How long does raw lamb last in freezer?
When you're tired of the usual beef, chicken, and pork dishes, you can level things up by serving lamb. There's something special about this meat that easily makes it the star at your dining table. The crown of frenched lamb, whole leg, or boneless lamb shoulder are perfect for roasting. Just serve with your favorite side dishes and you've got a festive table.
Of course, there are other ways of cooking it depending on which recipe you want to try. That's why it's always a good idea to have some lamb in your freezer for some special protein treat for the whole family.
With proper freezer storage, uncooked whole cuts of lamb can last for 4 to 12 months. This includes lamb chops, steaks, shanks, and roasts. If you're keeping raw ground lamb meat, it should last for 3 to 4 months in cold storage.
How to freeze lamb meat
Fresh Lamb Cuts
1. Prepare for freezing as soon as you get home to maintain their freshness.
2. You can trim the fat if you want.
3. Segregate cuts that you'll need for individual lamb dishes.
4. Put them inside a freezer bag.
5. Make sure you press out the air before sealing tightly.
6. Label each bag with the content, weight, and date of storage.
Ground Lamb Meat
1. Separate the ground meat according to portions that you need for cooking.
2. Wrap each portion with aluminum foil or freezer paper.
3. Put inside a heavy-duty zip top bag.
4. Flatten it so that it'll take up less space in the storage and it'll be easier to thaw later on.
5. Make sure you seal it tightly so that no air can get inside and cause freezer burn.
6. Label and store in the freezer.
Is frozen lamb as good as fresh?
Here's some great news for you! Freezing lamb will extend its shelf life and won't affect its quality and taste. Frozen lamb is as good as its fresh counterpart.
The key is in freezing it properly and choosing fresh meat to freeze. Of course, it has to be fresh to begin with, as freezing will only retain the current condition of the meat and not make it any fresher.
Does freezing lamb affect the taste?
As previously mentioned, freezing lamb does not affect its taste. That is if the meat has been stored in the freezer properly.
You can go ahead and use frozen lamb in any of your recipes once it has thawed completely. So, there's one good reason to keep lamb meat in your freezer for those times that you want to make a roast leg, braised lamb shank, or grilled lamb kebabs.
Can you eat lamb that has been frozen for two years?
As mentioned earlier, food that's kept in the freezer properly can stay safe to eat for an indefinite period. This is particularly true when it has been constantly kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
So in case you've forgotten a pack of lamb steaks inside the freezer, they are still safe to eat, technically speaking. Freezing stops the growth of harmful bacteria.
However, all foods deteriorate over time and some become unappetizing to eat once thawed. That's why meat experts recommend that you eat your frozen lamb within a year so that you can eat it at its best quality. This is also to avoid wasting a good quality of meat.
How do you know if frozen lamb is bad?
There's a probability that you and your guests can get sick from food poisoning if you serve lamb that has already gone bad. To make sure that this doesn't happen, better be wary of these signs:
1. The meat has a dull color that looks grayish or brownish.
2. It smells sour or weird.
3. The texture has become slimy.
4. The packaging has been destroyed while inside the freezer.
When in doubt, throw it out. Remember this saying when you're handling foods. It's better to be safe than sorry. So when you observe these changes, it is best to discard your lamb meat rather can risk getting foodborne diseases.
Can you freeze cooked lamb?
If you made a big batch of lamb burgers or have leftovers from your delicious lamb chops with sizzled garlic, you can store them in the freezer where they'll last for up to 3 months.
Here's how to freeze cooked lamb dishes:
1. Make sure it has cooled down completely.
2. Transfer to an airtight container.
3. You can also divide the remaining food according to meal-size portions.
4. Cover with clingfilm and aluminum foil.
5. Put inside a freezer bag.
6. Label and freeze.
How to thaw frozen lamb
There are three safe ways to thaw your frozen lamb so that you can use it for cooking delectable dishes. You can transfer your meat to the fridge, use the cold bath method, or use the microwave.
Thawing in the fridge
You can move it to the fridge. Place it on a dish but don't remove it from its container. You can also put some paper towels underneath it to absorb the drippings. Wait for it to thaw completely. For your reference, it'll take 4 to 7 hours to defrost 500 grams of large roast while smaller roasts with the same weight will take between 3 to 5 hours. You have to wait for 12 hours before lamb steaks are fully thawed.
Thawing in cold water
Submerge the meat in a large bowl of cold water. Make sure it is in a sealed container. Replace the water every 30 minutes until your lamb is completely thawed.
Thawing in the microwave
Put your lamb meat on a microwave-safe dish. Use the defrost setting or 20 to 30% power. Depending on the weight of your meat, thawing time usually takes between 2 and 10 minutes.
If you don't have time to spare to fully defrost your meat, you can cook it straight from the freezer although it'll take longer to reach the recommended safe internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Next time you drop by your favorite butcher, don't forget to ask him to prepare some special lamb cuts for you. You can store them in the freezer while you wait for that perfect opportunity to serve the meat on your dining table. Lamb will make your dining experience extra special.