SURVIVAL KITCHEN

Frozen Vacuum Sealed Meat – How Long Is Storage Life In The Freezer

This is a question for you as well as my own experience. I can say this, it makes a HUGE difference for meat in the freezer – using a vacuum sealer machine (e.g. FoodSaver or other similar).

I used to use Ziploc type bags. I would burp the air out as best I could. But after awhile they would always begin to get some freezer burn. Frosty. This is not good for the meat.

But you know what? For the low cost of vacuum seal bags (compared to the price of meat), wow, when it has been vacuum sealed – it looks as good as it went in the bag – even a year or more later!

Great meat color – still looks the same. Texture is just as good. And the taste? Yummy.

I’m curious to hear from you who have also used vacuum sealers for meat – and what’s the longest time in the freezer when you thawed and consumed that meat? How was it?

When I buy steaks for the chest freezer, there’s not even a second thought… the vacuum sealer machine comes out – and the bags. After they’re sealed, I mark the top edge of the sealed bag with a black Sharpie. The cut of meat / Month / Year. Then into the deep freeze they go…

I love taking advantage of Sale Prices this way for something that I like to eat.

We buy our vacuum seal bags in bulk. Way cheaper that way. Pint, Quart, and Gallon size.

>> 200 Quart Size 8″ x 12″
(view on amzn)

Just the other day I came across this old FoodSaver manual. I scanned the page that lists the food type and storage life (normal storage, or in vacuum sealed bags). I’ll copy it here for your interest:

How does the storage life chart compare with your own experience?

Doesn’t this steak look good?!

Storage Life of Vacuum Sealed Meat

FoodSaver says,

Beef, Pork, Poultry, Lamb (2 – 3 years)

Ground meat (1 year)

Fish (2 years)

>> NESCO VS-12, Deluxe Vacuum Sealer
(view on amzn)

Freezer Temperature Is Important Too

For best results for longer storage life, use a chest freezer. They get colder. Mine cycle between 0 (F) and -10 (F). I could adjust it colder, or warmer, but that seems to work out well.

How Vacuum Seal Bags Work

The design of FoodSaver (vacuum seal) Bags and Rolls has special channels that enable the efficient and complete removal of air.

The construction makes them an especially effective barrier to oxygen and moisture, preventing freezer burn. Bags and Rolls come in a variety of sizes.

[ Read: How I Organize My Chest Freezers ]

[ Read: The Best Food To Keep In Your Chest Freezer For Preparedness ]

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19 Comments

  1. My 15 cents worth.

    I buy 1/2 or a full steer every 2 years. The Butcher I use will vac-seal anything you want for 5 cents a pound…. ALL, everything gets vac-sealed
    As far as anything else that goes into the freezer…. same thing.
    I have Roasted Hatch Green Chilies from 2014… perfect.

    I keep the freezer at -5 degrees.

    One thing, do you have Freezer Alarms on your freezers?
    A neighbor had a 22CUFT freezer die… cost him a full beet, (and other stuff) around $3500 worth of beef completely gone….

    1. For survivalists, we all need to keep in mind that freezers are convenience foods and not storage.

      I’ve lost multiple freezers full of food and it’s doubtful that I can ever make up the losses by buying meats in bulk.

  2. I had hamburger that I vacuum sealed in 2013 and we ate in 2019/20 I do believe. Looked as if I had just seal it up & put into the freezer. The only difference I noticed it was a little chewy compared to the other hamburger, the grind was 93/7 back when Zaycon was still in business. No difference in the taste of the meat, actually it was better than newer meat which we had purchased from them before they went bankrupt.
    It comes down to quality of meat which you are purchasing for storage. If you can find locally raise beef from a rancher that has raised quality meat & he has repeat customers that is where I would suggest you purchase.

  3. I switched a year or so ago from wrapping meat in Press-n-Seal placed inside a zip lock freezer bag then straw sucked out the air (human vac seal, found it here, thanks) to a Food Saver vac sealer. Love the Food Saver, less material and time used. Like Ken mentions, the meat looks as fresh as the day purchased. Have not stored for multiple yearsyet. Two upright freezers at minus 3 degrees F. Have done pork, chicken, beef, sausage, venison. No breads, vac sealing crushed some garlic rolls, thought it would but wanted to see how bad, garlic roll pancake, hey what can I say it’s the engineer in me.

  4. Love using our Nesco vacuum sealer on meats! Usually try to rotate everything within 6 months. One trick I learned was pre freeze the steaks, chips, tri tip etc for about 30 minutes in the unsealed bag. Then seal them so the juices don’t get sucked up into the sealer and mess up the air tight seal. Never had any quality issues using the vacuum bags.

    1. Adam, Thank you for showing me how to get hamburger into the food saver bags. I NEVER would have thought to pre freeze it. I always would get juices getting sucked into the sealing end of the bag and not getting a good seal! I’d end up with putting two or three paper towels inside the closing end of the bag and the juices would often manage to leak past the towels.
      I feel like an idiot! Thanks again!

      1. You’re welcome! We get the big packs from Costco and break them down into 2# portions and seal them up. I try to smash it down to about an inch thick before I pre freeze for 30min so it thaws faster in the fridge (usually 24hrs)

  5. Took out some fine ground elk burger from 2011 and made jerky from it last fall. Tasted the same as the day I froze it. Vacuum sealing=no air, no meat oxidation. Keep our freezers -10f. If you dont vacuum seal your food for freezing you are wasting a ton of storage life. Basic vacuum sealers can be found less than $100, well worth the price.

  6. Just recently thawed, grilled and ate some beautiful steaks from 2016.
    Once thawed and out of the vacuum sealed bag, they looked like I had just bought them. I usually wrap with freezer wrap and then vacuum seal.

    Be careful of cuts with bones that could puncture the bag.
    luv ya’ll, Beach’n

  7. I usually purchase meat, ground beef in 5 pound tubes.
    These are sealed, no air.
    When I moved up to where I now live the 2 – 5 pound tubes were in my freezer at least two years, they sat another 5 years before I used one and then added three more.
    The one I used was fine, not issues at 7 years old.
    Now that origional tube has been in my chest freezer 9 years, I don’t expect any problems but I’ll find out some year.

  8. I got a food saver at the start of the quarantine because I was seeing severe meat shortages. Let me tell you, it has been a game changer!

    I had to stop buying meat because my freezer is full. It’s great pulling out meat, being able to identify it (because I’ve labeled it, and it’s not a freezer burned hunk of mystery meat), and knowing it will taste fine.

  9. I’ve used ground hamburger that was sneaking up on 2 years in vacuum seal bag and it was fine.

  10. Interesting, Thanks. I surprised with some of the items that are listed, like wine.

  11. Consider getting a chamber vacuum machine that uses bags without the channels.

    Figure 5 or 6 cents a bag instead of 60 to 75 cents a bag. I like 1/4lb hot dogs and sausages. If I buy a pack of 4 or 6 of those and my wife and I only eat 2, then I have to decide what to do with the rest. At about 75 cents per dog, that’s $1.50 worth of meat going into a freezer bag of 2 for another meal. The bag is 75 cents to save $1.50.

    In other cases, vegetables for instance, the bag generally costs more than the value of what I might want to freeze. I end up tossing anything other than the most expensive leftovers or bulk purchases.

    But with the chamber vac, I never think about the cost of the bag. The largest we use costs 10 cents and those store a whole rib roast.

    The cost of entry for a chamber vac is high but you’ll make that up. Don’t believe the $2700 per year advertised savings for chamber bag machines but those savings are very possible with the chamber vac so the $600 cost of entry for a chamber machine is a great investment.

    1. @Dale,
      I’m not sure where you get your vacuum-seal bags (the one’s with the channels) but they’re certainly not the prices you mention! I am currently paying about 12-cents each! There’s a link in the article above where I get mine…

  12. I always use the FoodSaver bags with my sealer. What are other people’s experiences with other brands and a FoodSaver sealer?

    1. Jeff H,
      I have been using the vacuum sealer bags linked in the article above for several years. No problems. The best price bags I’ve found.

    2. Jeff – I’m bagging and vac’ing 6 pound bags of Zulka sugar right now with generic bags. I’d go broke buying FoodSavers. We vacuum almost everything worth preserving. Box corners and sharp bits of hard grains sticking up just so, will eventually cause 1 of 10 to lose seal. I believe that will happen with the name band bags too. I have LTS grains vac’ed tight in 2013, still solid today.

  13. Tracy, I place sugar, flour, oats, etc in other plastic bags first – then vacuum seal or use O2 remover. It helps portion what is in the sealed bags and helps prevent break throughs based on my prior experience. You can put a couple pricks in the inner bags to have the air drawn out during closing process. I prefer Mylar and O2 removers as they hold for longer than vacuum sealing.