It Is Okay To Freeze Deli Meat?

Deli meat can be a convenient addition to any shopping list. Whether you're looking for a quick dinner or you need to prepare brown bag lunches during the week, making a sandwich at home can be a great solution. The only problem can be in estimating just how much you need. It can be hard to visualize just how much a pound of turkey or salami really is, and if you're the type of person who would rather be safe than sorry, extra lunch meat might find its way into your fridge. So what should you do when this happens? Unfortunately, deli meat does not have a particularly long shelf-life. But the good news is you can freeze that left-over sandwich meat to use another day. It just takes a little bit of prep work.

Healthline explains that while freezing deli meats can make them last longer, it needs to be done taking certain precautionary measures to prevent it from drying out, spoiling, and getting freezer burn. Meats should be frozen quickly after they are purchased and handled with clean hands and utensils. Once apportioned, meats need to be wrapped tightly or bagged with as little air as possible in the packaging. Eating Well recommends laying individual slices between sheets of wax paper and bundling the slices together in two layers of freezer bags. Finally, as Heathline advises, the meat must be frozen at 0 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure safe storage, though the quicker it freezes, the better it'll taste.

Defrosting your deli meat

Once you have your meats frozen, how long do they last? This depends slightly on the type of meat and how it was packaged. According to Healthline, once they are frozen, deli meats can last indefinitely without being subject to bacteria. However, they will start to degrade after some time in the freezer, either becoming dry or taking on unpleasant flavors.

Eating Well notes that pre-packaged, cured meats like salami and or pepperoni, have the longest freezer life, lasting about three months without issue. But unpackaged meats purchased from the deli counter or prepackaged, wetter meats like roast beef or turkey only stay good for about two months, even if they've been properly packaged.

Once you decide it's time to enjoy your preserved meat, you'll need time to let it defrost. Good Housekeeping recommends letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight to fully defrost, though Eating Well also notes that you can speed up the thawing process by putting the bagged meat in a bowl of cold water. Whichever method you use, never use the microwave as it'll risk the quality of the meat (via Healthline).

Good Housekeeping advises all defrosted deli meats should be consumed within two to three days after leaving the freezer.