Lunch meat, also known as deli meat, is a food item that is always handy to have in stock. Whether you want a snack, a lunchbox filler, or an addition to a variety of cooked dishes, it’s the perfect convenient item to make a meal complete.
The problem is that lunch meat does not have a long shelf life. Considering that it’s not a cheap ingredient, you also don’t want to overstock and see it go to waste.
The great thing about lunch meat is that you can freeze it. Not only does this allow you to stock up when your favorite cold cut is on special, but you can also prolong its shelf life and prevent food waste.
Here is everything you need to know about freezing lunch meat.
Types of Lunch Meat
Lunch meat goes by many different names. It is also known as cold cuts, sliced meat, deli meat, and cold meat.
Regardless of what you call it, lunch meat comes in 2 types of preparations. There is cured, dry meat and sliced, pre-cooked deli meat. Both are generally used sliced and served either cold or hot.
Lunch meat can be purchased over the deli or butcher counter or prepacked and vacuum sealed. Lunch meat is often used on sandwiches, on savory platters, or as a snack, but can also be added as a pizza topping, into pasta, an omelet filling, quiche, or in a salad.
You will find a selection of pork, turkey, chicken, and beef cold cuts in stores in a variety of flavors, cuts, cooked or smoked preparations.
Can I Freeze Lunch Meat?
Yes, lunch meat can be frozen, however, some types of meat freeze better than others. Due to their dense texture, cured meats such as bologna and sausage freeze well, whereas, poultry and turkey deli meats may develop a slightly wet surface once thawed.
This does not mean that you can’t freeze it but just be aware that you need to take extra care to package it properly for freezing to ensure it preserves well.
Using lunch meat in a cooked dish such as quiche, adding it to soup, mac n cheese, or scrambled eggs is a great alternative if you prefer not to use the thawed product as is.
See more: Can you freeze salami?
How To Freeze Deli Meat
If you are freezing lunch meat in unopened vacuum-sealed packaging, you can place it straight into the freezer.
For opened packs of lunch meat, leftovers, or slices bought over the counter at your butcher follow the steps below to ensure freezing cold cuts without spoiling.
Step 1: Separate Slices
Cut pieces of wax paper slightly bigger than the slices of lunch meat. Stack the meat slices alternating one slice of meat and one layer of wax paper. This will prevent the lunch meat slices from sticking together.
Step 2: Portion and Wrap
Decide how many slices you may want to use at a time and wrap the separated stack of slices in cling film.
For example, if you usually need 4 slices of lunch meat to make sandwiches, take 4 slices separated with wax paper and wrap them in cling film or foil.
This way you can take out only as many as you need from the freezer at a time without having to defrost and use the entire batch.
Step 3: Bag It
Contact with moisture or air will cause freezer burn and eventually the deterioration of the lunch meat quality. To save space and packaging, you can stack a few portions of cling wrapped lunch meat to fit into one zip lock freezer bag.
Don’t overfill the bag as it will take longer for the meats in the middle to freeze. Press all the air out of the freezer bag and seal.
Step 4: Label and Freeze
Label each bag with the contents and date of freezing before placing it into the freezer.
How To Thaw Frozen Lunch Meat
The best way to thaw lunch meat is by placing it in the refrigerator and leaving it overnight. Due to the susceptibility to harmful bacterial growth, it is not advisable to thaw lunch meat at room temperature on the countertop. Keep the deli meat in the packaging until fully thawed.
Once thawed, it is best to heat the deli meat before serving, however, only heat as much as you need as reheating it more than once makes it susceptible to the growth of bacteria.
To avoid moisture and flavor loss, and prevent harmful bacterial growth, lunch meat needs to be protected from contact with air and moisture on freezing by keeping it in airtight packaging.
Following the correct steps allows you to make use of store specials and have delicious deli meats on hand at any time to bring an extra layer of salty, smoky, meaty flavor to your meals.
Up next: Can You Freeze Meatloaf?
*Image by depositphotos.com/sarymsakov