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A Simple Guide to Preserving Lunch Meat in Your Freezer

Lunch meat is a necessity in many kitchens, not only because it is a natural fit in box lunches, but because it can also be used in a variety of other dishes. Omelets, baked potatoes, and pizzas are just three ways to use lunch meat aside from sandwiches, and its versatility is what makes lunch meat worth saving. So, if you have a surplus of lunch meat, and are wondering how best to preserve it, check out these must-try freezing tips.

Which deli meats should I freeze?

You can freeze any type of deli meat, but there are some that hold up better during the freezing and defrosting process. Cured meats, like sausage and bologna, have a dense, hearty texture and lower water content, which makes freezing easier. Roasted turkey, ham, chicken, and other deli meats are still good to freeze, though the meat may be slightly wet upon defrosting.

What prep work should go into freezing?

If you have an unopened bag of deli meat to freeze, you can simply toss the package into the freezer. Add an extra layer, like aluminum foil or a plastic bag, to further prevent freezer burn. If you’re hoping to freeze partially consumed deli meat, you will need to wrap it beforehand. Lay slices on pieces of wax paper or paper towels, and freeze stacked in a plastic bag. Press as much air out of the bag as you can. This will preserve flavor and texture.

If you have a large chunk of meat to save, wrap it in plastic wrap – ideally, in a few layers. Place inside a larger freezer bag, pressing as much air out as possible before freezing.

How long can the meat be kept frozen, and how should I defrost it?

You can store fresh or packaged frozen lunch meat for up to two months. Cured meats can be frozen for three months. When you’re ready to defrost the meat, the best way to do so is by letting sit in the refrigerator until dethawed. You can expedite the process by placing the wrapped meat in a bowl of cold water and changing the water often.

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