Freezing Meat With Freezer Paper

A good question came in on Friday’s post about freezing fruits and vegetables about how to freeze meat products without using plastic bags. I don’t know of a way to avoid plastic with meat products, but you can use freezer paper instead of ziplock bags. The University of Georgia Extension Service has a handy info sheet on how to wrap meat with freezer paper: Freezing Animal Products.

Correction: an earlier version of this post was entitled “How to Freeze Meat Without Using Plastic.” I had forgotten that freezer paper is coated with plastic. You can use glass canning jars to freeze (just don’t use a jar with a shoulder). While jars are a great way to freeze soups and stews, they are not suitable for cuts of meat. If you are aware of a way to freeze cuts of meat without plastic, please leave a comment.

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  1. What material are you using to wrap the items? The freezer wrap that I bought in the store has a layer of plastic laminated with paper, so plastic is still involved (I suppose in the “old days” this was waxed instead?). Do you have a non-plastic material to suggest that is still waterproof to prevent drying out?

    • Anon–you are quite correct to point out that freezer paper is coated with plastic–the post has been amended. I’m not aware of a material that is not coated with plastic that would be suitable for wrapping a cut of meat.

  2. I have no idea if this is cool at all, but my mom always used to wrap our hamburger and other meat in aluminum foil when freezing it.

  3. Two more thoughts…we freeze some of our meat (fish, chicken, rabbit) in water to help keep freezer burn off. We do this in plastic bags, but you could probably do this in other containers as well. Or freeze it in a plastic container and then wrap it in uncoated paper or foil.

    Also, we pressure can our old hens and last year’s venison. It makes the most tender, delicious, ready-to-eat meat. It can be tossed in soups or casseroles or just used to make sandwiches. My grandmother used to do this all the time with beef and other meats. It’s dead easy to do, too.

  4. How did people freeze meat before the existence of plastic ? I almost want to say they didn’t.. During my Taiwan visit my grandma would purchase meat from her local butcher the day she was going to cook it. The butcher had no refridgeration, just fresh (I’m assuming !!) cuts of meat hanging from hooks that day in a stall by the road. Would they just bed them in ice like they do with fish at the end of the day ?? To take it home they would toss it into plastic.. but if it was cooked that day it wasn’t frozen. I imagine freezing meat is a matter of convenience – if folks can frequent their butcher the day they wish to cook a meat dish that’s best and freshest ! No suggestions for the meat producer end. Maybe I can ask my bf what his farm did with the lambs they slaughtered earlier this year.

  5. Is Anonymous correct that freezer paper used be wax-coated? If so, would wrapping in waxed paper be safe/effective (possibly followed by a simple butcher paper wrap to protect the waxed paper and provide a writing surface)? I had not considered alternatives to plastic for freezing meat but am now intrigued.

  6. I often wrap mine in aluminum foil for short term freezer storage. This is also how I freeze breads and pastries. I wash and reuse the foil from the baked goods and eventually recycle it, but toss foil that has been used for meat. I don’t consider aluminum foil to be any more earth-friendly than plastic, except that it is recyclable; however I consider it safer not to wrap food in plastic. I freeze other foods in canning jars or freezer-safe glass boxes. Freezing food for long-term storage developed around the same time as plastic packaging, so they have been compatible technologies from the beginning.

  7. There is a brand of glass storage dishes that have a plastic/rubbery lid that can go in the freezer. The lid is airtight, so maybe these flat storage dishes would work. I am not sure what brand this is.

  8. I was thinking, since sometimes people spray fruit with some water before freezing, can that be done with meat? Coat it in some kind of water solution, freeze, spritz on water again, freeze and repeat until it’s got a protective layer of ice over it?

  9. At our house, we freeze our meat and poultry in stainless steel airtight containers. They come in different sizes. We found them at a store called Life Without Plastic. Yes, if we keep the meat for too long (like say more than a month), we get some freezer burn. We don’t care. We’re just happy to have plastic-free, garbage-free food. We bring our containers to the butcher and they fill them with our order. It’s great!

  10. I have a friend who uses eco-seran wrap. Istead of plastic wrap it is a cloth that has been treated with an oil/beeswax blend. It created a water tight oil cloth that is used instead of cling wrap and i bet would bake an excellent freezer meat wrap.
    Another option would be to melt some parafin or beeswax (low heat), dip your meat or fish in it and stick it in the freezer. When the wax is frozen it will come off very easily as it becomes very brittle. As long as the wax stays intact, it will not get freezer burn.
    Dipping in wax was commonly used for raw eggs in the shell to significantly extend shelf life before refrigeration (note: most places in the world dont refrigerate eggs anyway).

  11. The way we used to do it was to save up milk cartons and rinse them out. When we butchered chickens we would cut them up and put them in and add enough water to cover the chicken, fold the lid and tape and then toss it in the freezer. Now all the milk cartons are plastic coated instead of waxed unfortunately.

  12. Rats. After realizing my butcher paper was plastic coated, I was hoping to find a solution here. My concern is two fold — environmental and health; everybody knows it’s not good to use plastic for freezing or cooking. I wonder what would happen if you used the butcher paper with the plastic side out? Meat would’t be touching the plastic so health concerns would be lessened (I think/hope), but that doesn’t resolve the environmental aspect.

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