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How to Freeze Grass Fed Meat in Bulk

posted on

September 19, 2023

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Stock Up & Save

As Summer comes to an end, Fall on the farm becomes harvest season.

This is when we do the majority of our meat harvesting to prepare for the lean months of Winter. Traditionally, this is when all the killing was done on the farm. Because of the limited refrigeration and freezer space, it was easier to keep meat stored in an ice house or shed when the outside temperature was already freezing.

Also, homesteaders were beginning to make fires which meant smoking meats was an efficient way to keep warm and preserve meat at the same time. In the winter, forage is less and we rely on all the nutrient-dense haylage we baled in the Summer. But you never know what Mother Nature has in store, so cutting back on the livestock ensures plenty of food for the farm animals and for us.

Since you probably aren’t living Little House on the Prairie and have access to electricity, one of the best ways to prepare for your family's meat needs is to stock up in the fall when there is an abundance of meat and freeze it for your meals for the year to come.

For those that are doing this for the first time, you will have some questions to ask.

We will walk you through the process here, so it will be simple:

What is the best type of freezer?

The options are chest top and upright freezers. Chest top freezers are going to be more available and therefore less expensive. They are also going to be more efficient on energy because when you open the door all the cold air stays in the bottom instead of falling out from the door on the front. Chest tops however take up more floor space and are harder to dig through to find what you need quickly. If you have the space and time I would go with the chest top.

If you are preparing food for a family, and every second counts and you have limited storage space, I would go with the upright. We have one of each. The chest top is for large items like turkeys, briskets, bones, broths, etc and it is placed further away from the kitchen and we don’t open in but once a month or so. The upright is closer to the kitchen and we use it once a week. The other benefit to an upright is if you are teaching the kids to help with food prep, they can open and access the meats from an upright and will have a difficult time getting anything in and out of a chest top.

These days, freezers have become so efficient that you will not use much more electricity with an upright.

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What is the best brand of freezer?

Most all brands are competitive these days. And, each brand has low-end and high-end models. I go for the cheapest one with the thickest wall. So, I actually measure the thickness of the freezer wall. Some will be just 1” thick while others are 2” thick. This makes the biggest difference in extending the freshness of your food and reducing your electric bill.

I also like to buy products that are Made in the USA. Most companies have moved their manufacturing to China and some buy parts from China and assemble in the US. Most Freezers will last about 10-15 years.

Blue Star is located in Pennsylvania; Bosch is German but has some manufacturing in North Carolina and Tennessee; Dacor is high-end, high-quality Made in USA; Sub-Zero and Viking are Made in USA; Electrolux is the largest with 7,500 employees and manufacture in Memphis, TN, SC, NC, MN and some from China (check the label). GE, Samsung, Whirlpool, and Maytag are hybrids as well. Although, I shop second hand stores as well and can find good deals on used appliances.

Click here for a Made in USA appliance guide.

What about DC freezers?

If you are off-grid, I would steer you away from the DC freezers as they are way over priced. They often have problems, don’t work well, and are not designed very intuitively. Consider getting an inverter, convert DC to AC, and buy an AC freezer.

Where is the best place to buy a freezer?

Home Depot tries to promote appliance that are Made in the USA. I found that Lowe’s will often carry the same brands as Home depot and often the wall thickness is thicker. Lowe’s will have better sales. I’ve had good success with second-hand appliances and nicks and dings from a used appliance store. I’ve gotten quality, thick walled, upright or chest top 15 cubic foot freezers for $800 new on sale or used, and 7 cubic foot freezers for $300. They are light and easy to bring home in a van or pick up truck or most places will deliver for $50.

What size freezer will I need and how much meat should I buy for my family?

Whole cow - 2 large freezers
1/2 cow – 1 large freezer
1/4 cow – 1 small freezer
1/8 cow - fill in your kitchen freezer

This Chart should give some guidance:

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Where should I place the freezer in my house?

A freezer works by heat causing evaporation which cools, kind of like sweat, which forms when we are hot and when it evaporates off our skin has a cooling effect. So, keeping a freezer outside (especially if you are in a cold climate) is not good for your freezer. You also don’t want it exposed to high temps or direct sunlight.

The best place is in the house or a well insulated garage. In a pantry next to the kitchen or the garage, basement or shop are most ideal. Note, your freezer will actually warm the room up that it lives in.

How long will meat stay fresh in a freezer?

The general guideline is to keep meat no longer than a year. Each year in the fall it’s good to empty your freezer, defrost it, clean it out, and make a new purchase for the following year’s supply. The ground meats and the larger items like roasts, and briskets will fair better for longer periods of time as will meat that is vacuum sealed in thick plastic instead of wax paper.

Regardless, I try to eat all the premium cuts like the Ribeyes, Filet Mignons, NY Strips, and Livers, etc in the first 6-months for the best flavor and texture.

Is Unfrozen Meat Healthier than Frozen?

I get asked this question quite often, especially from customers that are on the raw meat diet. My answer, as I have been eating my meat raw since 2001, is that it depends. Yes, foods begin to lose enzymes when when heated above 94-104 degrees depending on if it’s honey, dairy or meat. 

And, enzymes are lost when below 32 degrees.

However, there are other factors to keep in mind. Such as super-cool freezing actually preserves enzymes, like preserving semen at temperatures as low as – 150 to – 400 degrees. This process produces some of the most well-bred Quarter Horse and bull stock and healthy humans (or not, who’s to say if AI kids are healthy or not, let me know if you have any experience with this). Sushi is flash frozen to – 40 degrees.

What makes me wonder the most, is Aajonus often sited My Life with the Eskimos, by Vilhjalmur Stefansson. In Stefansson’s explorations the Eskimos ate raw caribou, seal, whale, walrus. But, then he explains their harvesting practices. When they would kill an animal in the  – 30 F  to
+ 30 F degree arctic, the animal meats would instantly flash freeze. Then, they would carry the kill back home 5-10 miles away and store it outside on the roof of their ice houses both to preserve the meat and to keep it out of reach from their dogs.

They would chop off a piece and bring it indoors by the fire, thaw it, and then eat it raw. So, they froze and thawed and ate their meat raw and were some of the hardiest, strongest, healthiest people on the planet. I myself have eaten a combination or frozen and unfrozen raw meats for the last 20-years and at 58 years old today am one of the healthiest people I know.

We also have to consider the big picture:

Are my meat choices supporting the health of the planet and local grass fed farms?

It very difficult for small farms to offer unfrozen meat daily. Only grocery stores with huge customer bases who buy wholesale from Australia can afford to buy from companies that can butcher daily and throw away a huge amount of spoilage.

Small farms that are working direct with their customers can’t afford this and don’t have the employees to run a butcher shop 7 days a week. Then, you add into the mix, the USDA’s requirements, it’s a razor’s edge we walk. So, I would ask, how much petroleum does it take to ship beef from Australian to the US? And, how does this keep US farms from going out of business? How sustainable is this?

I hope this gives you a practical guideline for purchasing meat in bulk and everything you need to know about freezers.

Please email us if you have any questions.

Click Here to save money purchasing your Grass Fed Beef, Pastured Pork, Pastured Chicken, Pastured Turkey, and Raw A2/A2 Organic Cheeses in bulk.

And, don't forget to order your turkeys, briskets, and bone broths for the holidays.

Connecting Food & Health,
The Simply Grassfed families
photos courtesy Phoenix Be © 2023

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