This Is How You Should Really Be Freezing Your Ground Beef

Ground beef is an incredibly versatile ingredient, so it's one of the best meats to have on hand for quite a few different meals. It's perfect for a Bolognese sauce, can be used to make hamburger patties, or even be transformed into a tasty meatloaf. The one caveat, however, is that large batches of ground beef can be a pain to defrost. That's especially true if you discover that some parts of it have already been subject to freezer burn. Fortunately, there's a simple way to avoid this — it all depends on how you freeze your ground beef. 

According to the USDA, the most effective method is to simply leave the beef in its original packaging when you freeze it. As is, it can last for a maximum of two days. But if the package is already open or you need to store your ground beef for longer, there's a right and a wrong way to freeze it. 

How to freeze ground beef for an extended period

Freezing ground beef in its original packaging is convenient, but the reason it doesn't last long is that it's not airtight. To seal off your ground beef from any freezer burn or cross-contamination, the USDA explains that you'll also need to add a layer of heavy-duty plastic wrap or aluminum foil around the original packaging. Ground beef stored like this can last up to four months.

If you're freezing several pounds of ground beef, Lifehacker recommends separating it into smaller portions in freezer bags. While this makes defrosting easier, it does run the risk of creating air pockets during the transfer process. These air pockets are what cause freezer burn, however, you can easily remove them just by flattening the meat before you zip up the bag.

You generally want to avoid transferring your ground beef from its original packaging wherever possible, but if you must, preventing exposure to air is the best way to keep it as fresh as possible. And remember: The better your ground beef is stored in the freezer, the better it'll taste once you actually cook it.