The Ultimate Guide to the Best Cuts of Meat and How to Store Them Long Term

So you’ve decided to take the jump and start trying to stock up on the most flavourful and succulent cuts of meat for a long-term storage. Congrats! You are one of the few who have made the commitment to wade into this extremely niche—but exceedingly scrumptious—art. Or, maybe you’re here because you’ve got a freezer full of meat, and you’re wondering how to extend its storage shelf-life without having to sacrifice flavour, tenderness, and guesswork.

Either way, you’ve found yourself in the right place. As they often say, knowledge is power! With that said, pull up a chair as we teach you all you need to know about selecting and storing the optimal cuts of meat for your long-term storage. You’ll learn the different types of meats, distinguish their suitable storage methods, and determine the best bargains for you. All that and more in our Ultimate Guide to the Best Cuts of Meat and How to Store Them Long Term!

Quick Answer

Harder, leaner cuts such as chuck, round, and stew meat are some of the best options for storing long-term. To maximize storage time you should freeze and vacuum seal them for optimal freshness.

Best Types of Meat for Long-term Storage

When it comes to stocking up on meat for long-term storage, it’s important to give careful consideration to picking the right cuts. Selecting the right types of meat can make all the difference in successfully storing and preserving meat over the long haul. There are some meats that are more suitable than others based on factors such as fat content and seasoning.

Ground beef is a popular choice due to its versatility and short shelf life. Without proper packaging, ground beef can only be kept frozen for three to four months with any kind of acceptable freshness. Smaller packages and lower fat content play a role in keeping meat fresh ice for longer periods. Portioned out steaks, when vacuum sealed, can last up to 8-10 months frozen before noticeable spoilage sets in. Leaner cuts of pork provide better long-term storage potential than higher fat pork products like bacon or sausage because their fat content contains fewer growth promoters for bacteria that cause spoilage or worse.

Non-lean red meats are not recommended for long-term use in homes without a deep freezer capable of keeping low subzero temperatures constantly. In these cases, pork chops, roasts, casseroles and ground turkey, chicken and beef can find extended storage life in a standard freezer set at 0°F (-18°C). Sliced deli turkey and packaged beef burgers tend to fare better than other prepackaged options since they contain less preservatives and potentially simpler ingredients.

Since different cuts require different storage guidelines, learning how best to store and thaw each type will maximize flavor retention and keep food safe during storage and eating. With the right information and careful consideration of the best proteins for long-term freezing, stock piling your home freezer with delicious selections can be accomplished safely and efficiently.

The next section will discuss one of the best proteins for long term storage – Beef – as well as how best to store it for maximum freshness and taste preservation.


Beef is one of the most versatile proteins and its cuts can be used in a variety of dishes from burgers to stews. Fairly lean, it’s great for adding flavor without a lot of fat or cholesterol. Understanding the different cuts of beef and how to store them properly is key to successful long-term storage.

The types of beef cuts are classified based on fat content and preparation details, such as grilling and roasting. Tenderloin, ribeye, filet mignon, porterhouse, sirloin, strip steak, flank steak and skirt steak are some examples of steak cuts. Popular roasts include prime rib, chuck roast and top round roast. Ground beef is also widely used across many dishes because it can be rapidly cooked.

It’s important to cook or freeze fresh beef within two days after purchasing it as it doesn’t last as long as other proteins like pork or poultry when stored in the refrigerator. If freezing long term, vacuum packaging is ideal so that you can press out all the oxygen for best freshness. Beef should not be stored more than six months in the freezer when packaged with airtight packaging. Additionally, ensure beef is wrapped tightly before frozen to prevent freezer burn from occurring over time.

Now that we’ve covered beef let’s move on to discuss pork in our next section.


Pork is a versatile kind of meat that can be used in a variety of ways, from pulled pork sandwiches to tenderloin roasts. Its flavor comes from the fat and protein it holds in its flesh, making it ideal for adding flavor to many dishes. When choosing the best cuts of pork, you should look for marbling – thin streaks of fat running through the muscle – which will add moisture and flavor to your recipes.

For whole pork cuts like shoulder, loin, ribs or ham, it’s important to know what type of roast you want to end up with; this will help you choose the best cut. Loin is usually the leanest cut and is best suited for baking or roasting; shoulder is more fatty, so it’s preferred when slow-cooking as the added fat helps keep it moist during cooking. Ribs are typically smoked or grilled, while ham is most commonly baked or boiled.

When purchasing ground pork, opt for one with at least 15 percent fat content; this will ensure a juicy burger patty or sausage links. Finally, pork fatback (the layer of hard fat between skin and muscle) is the go-to ingredient for sausages and salami.

Storing pork properly will ensure that it stays fresh longer. All cuts should be placed in resealable bags and stored in the refrigerator or freezer for optimum freshness. Once cooked, any leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking, as long as they were stored prior to cooking at proper temperatures. With careful care and handling, these cuts of pork can last up to 6 months in the freezer.

It’s important to pay attention when purchasing, preparing and storing pork: When done correctly you can enjoy delicious meals made with this flavorful meat for weeks! Now that we’ve gone over the details behind one of the best meats around let’s move on to the next section about burger meat!

  • According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, frozen meats can be stored in a freezer at 0°F (-18°C) for six to 12 months.
  • A study published in 2019 concluded that vacuum sealed cuts of beef had the highest stability against lipid oxidation during long-term storage compared with other meat preservation methods.
  • According to a 2016 study, lean cuts of pork were found to have better color scores and lower total volatile basic nitrogen (TVB-N) levels after four weeks of long term storage compared to fatty cuts.

Burger Meat

Burger meat is a staple in many households, and there are a variety of options when it comes to deciding the right cut for your burgers. Traditionally, ground beef patties made from chuck roast or a ground sirloin-to-chuck ratio have been the go-to option. However, other cuts, such as brisket, have become popular alternatives for a richer and more flavorful burger.

Those who argue that using brisket for their burgers provides a more succulent and juicy patty will point out that whole muscle cuts like brisket contain more fat than the standard chuck steak. The additional fat content results in a particular burst of flavor when cooked. Additionally, those who prefer larger or thicker burgers may need additional fat content to create patty shapes that hold up quickly and easily on the grill.

Despite its flavor potential, some may argue against using full-muscle cuts like brisket for their burger patties due to the extra time needed for cooking compared to chuck roast or sirloin. Patience may be necessary while the exterior of the patty firms up enough to allow it to remain intact when flipped. Issues with texture can also become an issue with large portions of fat mixed into patty meat, particularly if overcooked.

Ultimately, choosing between chuck roast and brisket is subjective, depending on your preference and availability of certain cuts. In any case, careful consideration should be given in order to craft the perfect burger meat as it will affect both taste and texture heavily.

Moving forward, it is important to understand what to look for when choosings cuts of meat for long-term storage—the next section will expand on this in greater detail.

What to Look for When Choosing Cuts of Meat

Choosing cuts of meat can be a daunting task, as there is a wide variety of options available with different textures, tastes, and healthy benefits. In order to ensure you get the best results for your tastebuds and wallet in the long-run, it is important to carefully consider the cut of meat you purchase.

When selecting cuts of meat, look for pieces that are bright red in colour and relatively moist (not slimy). You’ll also want to avoid anything that has an off odour or looks discoloured. Choose cuts that are firm but springy when touched. If possible, ask the butcher for help – they often know which kind of cuts go best with what kinds of meals or have personal recommendations on which ones taste better. Additionally, purchasing organic and grass-fed meats can often increase the quality and reduce concerns over antibiotics, steroids, or hormones found in many mass-produced meats.

When selecting ground beef or pork, opt for a product with higher amounts of fat as these tend to produce better results during cooking. The fat will also enhance the flavour profile more so than leaner varieties. However, it is important to keep an eye on total fat content in general as too much will negatively affect your overall health if consumed in excess.

Well chosen cuts of meat should last up to five days after being purchased from the store if properly refrigerated and kept away from potential hazards like listeria or salmonella. Always look for packages marked “use by” or “sell by” before bringing home your purchases—these labels tell you how long the meat can last in storage until it starts to spoil.

Now that you know what to look for when choosing cuts of meat, the next step is understanding how each cut affects fat content when cooking. Stay tuned for our section on fat content and how various cutting techniques can improve or compromise your diet!

Key Points

When selecting cuts of meat, look for pieces that are bright red in colour, relatively moist (not slimy), firm but springy to the touch, and without an off odour. Ask the butcher for help and consider purchasing organic and grass-fed meats. For ground beef and pork, choose varieties with higher amounts of fat for better results and flavour during cooking. Keep an eye on total fat content to avoid negative health effects and get packages marked “use by” or “sell by” to know how long the meat can last before spoiling. In the next section, learn more about fat content when cooking and how cutting techniques may improve or compromise a diet.

Fat Content

Fat content is an important but often misunderstood factor when it comes to purchasing cuts of meat. Depending on the recipe, certain cuts may need more or less fat for the desired flavor profile. Fat also plays a role in storage – it acts as a natural preservative, helping to keep the meat edible and safe for longer.

On one hand, some cooks prefer meat that has high amounts of fat due to the extra flavor and moisture that it brings to the dish. In addition, having more fat can also mean that storage time isn’t as important since the fat will help keep the food fresh.

On the other hand, some cooks prefer leaner cuts since they are lower in calories and cholesterol while still providing plenty of flavor. Additionally, lean cuts require more careful storage – they should be kept cold at all times and will not last as long as higher-fat options.

Ultimately, whether to choose a higher- or lower-fat cut depends on your personal preferences and needs. No matter what type you decide on, proper storage is key for keeping your meat fresh and safe for longer periods of time.

The next section will discuss marbling; this refers to visual streaks of fat within the muscle fibers that give red meats their distinct flavor and tenderness.


Marbling enzymes contain fat within the muscle of the meat and are associated with superior tenderness and taste. Marbling is important for texture, flavor, and moisture of cooked beef. High-quality beef will often be labeled as “prime”, “choice”, or “select”, which have to do with amount of marbling. Some may debate that a lean cut is healthier, but others argue that the marbling fat carries most of the flavor and leaves minimal grease during cooking.

The best cuts of meat will always contain some degree of marbling to bring out the best in taste and texture. When selecting your desired cut, it is important to check for an even marble throughout to guarantee it was prepared correctly. You should also keep in mind that some cuts of meat don’t usually feature much marbling and opt for those when focusing on fat content.

Now that you know what to look for when selecting cuts of meat, let’s move on to how long they can be kept without spoiling by looking at how to store them for long-term.

How to Store Meat for Long-term

When storing meat for long-term use, there are several important factors to take into consideration. Firstly, the storage space itself must be kept immaculately clean, dry, and at temperatures not higher than 40°F. This is critical in helping maintain food safety and preventing bacteria from quickly multiplying within the temperature range of 40°F to 140°F.

The debate centers around the issue of whether freezing or refrigerating meat for long-term storage is preferable. Freezing does present a good option for meat preservation; however should be reserved only for cuts that are unopened as typically vacuum sealed and pre-packaged meats found in supermarkets will indicate if it may be frozen safely. This is due to the quality of the packaging being far superior to that of a homemade bag. Nonetheless, care must still be taken when freezing fresh or uncooked meat to ensure proper defrosting prior to use and cooking. Whereas some may argue that 1-2 days in the fridge with dry ice can preserve any animal tissue for longer periods, for most home cooks it’s simply not worth taking the risk.

When it comes to long-term storage of fresh meat, refrigeration is always a better option than freezing, as temperatures between 0 and 3 °C (32 – 38 °F) will keep the food safe while maintaining better taste and texture upon reheating, rather than freezing which can cause damage to the cell structure over a longer period of time. Properly wrapped and stored in an airtight container also helps protect against bacteria growth such as botulism spores.

To conclude this section on how to store meat for long-term: freezing should typically only be used on packaged meats that indicate they can safely be frozen, otherwise refrigeration should be used at cool temperatures below 40°F and within an airtight container for maximum protection against bacterial growth and preservation of taste and texture upon reheating.

Next up in our Ultimate Guide: let’s take a closer look at vacuum sealed containers – the best way to guarantee your meats stay fresher longer!

Vacuum Sealed Containers

Vacuum sealed containers are an increasingly popular option for meat storage. Vacuum sealed containers are airtight, hard-plastic containers with a built-in pump, designed to remove all the air to protect the meat from freezer burn or odor. With proper use, vacuum sealed containers can keep meats fresh for longer, up to 1 year in some cases.

Advocates of vacuum sealed containers suggest that the lack of oxygen, moisture and light protects meats better than traditional packaging by reducing oxidation, which can cause bad odors, rancidity and discoloration. They also create an effective barrier against harmful bacteria while trapping in desirable flavors and textures so meats remain tasty and refreshing. Metal sign clips ensure that the container is securely sealed without any possibility of contamination or spoilage.

Critics counter that vacuum sealed containers consume more energy due to the additional pumping step and may not be a cost-effective solution depending on how much meat one needs to store at any given time. Additionally, they must be opened periodically to allow trapped air from internal condensation back out, otherwise the container will expand rapidly when exposed to room temperature. In addition, since meat stored in these ultra-sealed environments doesn’t have healthy bacteria or adequate ventilation for respiration, it may not stay at optimal flavor for as long as freely frozen foods.

For those willing to take extra precautions for long-term storage, however, vacuum sealed containers provide ultimate protection and peace of mind that their food has been safely secured from mold growth and bacteria infiltration. The next section explains another common method of meat storage: freezer bags.

Freezer Bags

Freezer bags are a popular way to store meat long-term. When using freezer bags, it is important to use them properly in order to prevent any undesirable food-safety issues. To start, choose high-quality zip-lock style freezer bags that are thick enough to withstand the weight of the meat and avoid any potential punctures. These should be made specifically for the freezer as regular plastic baggies are not dense enough. Next, ensure that the bag is completely sealed tight so no air or liquid can enter or escape.

Once everything is sealed securely, mark and label the freezer bag with the type of meat and how long it can remain frozen for best quality. This can help remind you when products may have been stored for longer than recommended or help others identify the contents if needed. Additionally, spread out the items within the bag in an even single layer, which will allow air to circulate between each cut of meat and help keep things better separated upon thawing.

The debate about freezer bags arises as some people feel they are not as safe as other methods when it comes to storing meat long-term. While they can be used properly and with great success if all precautions are taken, there may be an increased risk of bacteria transfer if these instructions aren’t followed correctly.

Once your items are safely frozen in freezer bags, move on to other methods for storing meat long-term such as vacuum packing or freezing blocks of ice in with your products. These additional methods can help preserve the quality of your cuts of meat while also helping to prevent any potential contamination through negligence when using less secure storage options such as zipper bags alone.

Other Methods for Storing Meat Long-term

When it comes to storing meat long-term, there are other methods besides freezing and canning. Vacuum packing is one of the most popular options, as it removes almost all of the oxygen from the package, preventing the growth of bacteria, oxidation, and preserving the flavor and texture of meats for up to 10 times longer than a traditional refrigerator freezer. Home vacuum packing systems can be purchased for relatively low cost and provide an easy way to store small batches of meats.

Another option is dehydration which involves removing the moisture from meats in order to preserve them in a much smaller form. This method has been used historically by many cultures to avoid food spoilage and keep meals on hand for extended periods. Dehydration can take a few days or even weeks depending on the cut of meat and final desired texture, but in general this method produces a shelf-stable product that can be stored anywhere from 6-12 months if stored correctly.

Smoking and curing are also great ways to store meat long-term as these methods add salt, preservatives and smoke which essentially “cooks” the meat without heat while still preserving flavor and texture. These methods were traditionally used before refrigeration as they not only enhanced flavor, but also allowed meats to be kept months even years when stored correctly.

The debate between canning, freezing and other methods for storing meat such as vacuum packing, dehydration, smoking and curing is ongoing. Many people stand by freezing as it’s the easiest method while on the other end of the spectrum some swear by vacuum packing as it provides a more robust flavor due to minimal oxygen exposure. At the end of the day every person should decide which method works best for them based off their budget, storage space availability and preference for taste and texture.

Now that we have covered some of the different non-traditional ways of storing meat long term let’s move onto our next section about dry aging – an age old practice that has recently made its mark back into mainstream kitchens.

Dry Aging

Dry aging is the process of allowing cuts of beef to age in a controlled environment for the purpose of tenderizing and improving flavor. During dry aging, moisture is lost from the meat, resulting in enhanced flavor intensity and tenderness due to enzymatic breakdown of muscle proteins. This method of aging has been used for centuries as a way to improve meat quality and texture.

Proponents of dry aging argue that it not only results in improved flavor, but also a more concentrated and complex taste. Dry aged steaks are said to have a more enhanced beefy flavor that can’t be achieved through any other means. Furthermore, fans of the technique claim that it leads to more tender and juicy steaks with a more intense marbling effect due to fat oxidation and emulsification. Additionally, they argue that it allows them to predict cooking outcomes precisely as moisture loss is closely monitored throughout the entire process.

Conversely, critics contend that dry aging is an unnecessarily costly and lengthy process that yields marginal improvements and comes with many risks such as shrinkage, bacterial growth and enzyme denaturation. Additionally, they argue that many people can’t tell the difference between dry-aged steak and fresh steak, making this techniqueless than necessary for most home cooks.

Overall, both sides present valid arguments when debating dry aging regardless of which side you take. Ultimately however, it comes down to personal preference on whether or not you decide to use this method to age your meat.

Regardless of your opinion on the matter, grinding is an important step when it comes to preparing meat for some dishes. The next section will provide an in depth look into considerations one should keep in mind when grinding their own meat.


Grinding meat at home is becoming an increasingly popular method of preparing meals. It allows the cook to have specific control over the texture and shape, plus it’s a great way to cut down on food costs. Store-bought ground beef, for example, is typically more expensive than buying an entire cut of meat and grinding it yourself.

When learning how to grind your own meat, however, it is important that you consider the hygiene risks that are associated with the process. Meat grinders and mincers must be kept clean and scrupulously sanitized in order to prevent contamination from bacteria like E. Coli and Salmonella from entering the food supply. Uncooked meats should never be allowed to touch cooked meats or vegetables, as this could lead to cross-contamination. As such, it is recommended that cooks use separate equipment for grinding uncooked and cooked ingredients.

Additionally, using fresh high quality cuts of meat results in tastier dishes prepared with fewer additives or preservatives. While ground meat is convenient to use, it may also contain added fillers or extenders which reduce its overall nutritional value without improving its gustatory qualities. Therefore, it is important to consider both convenience and nutrition when deciding between using store-bought ground meat or grinding your own cuts at home.

Convenience vs nutrition aside, one final factor must be taken into consideration when grinding your own meat: safety. Properly cleaning and maintaining a grinder or mincer can help to minimize risk of injury from sharp blades and motors that spin rapidly during the process of grinding. It is highly recommended that all cooks take the proper precautions when operating such machinery in order to avoid any accidents from occurring in the kitchen.

With these factors in mind, it can be concluded that if handled carefully and correctly, grinding your own meat at home can offer several benefits for those looking for a cost-effective alternative to store-bought products. In conclusion, let’s now look at how we can make sure our cuts of meat are stored properly long term with our guide’s next section on “Conclusion”.


Deciding which cuts of meat to store long-term can be a difficult decision. There are different types of meats to choose from and they have varying qualities when it comes to storage. If you opt for beef, the most common cuts used for long-term storage are ground beef and steaks. Ground beef is simple to freeze and defrost when ready to use. Steak can also be frozen but will lose some flavor and texture. Pork, on the other hand, is well suited for freezing due to its low fat content. Roasts, chops and ribs are all good choices for pork that can be frozen without sacrificing any quality in taste or texture. chicken breasts, thighs and wings can all benefit from being stored in the freezer since the low fat content makes it very easy to thaw without having to worry about flavor or texture problems. Finally, turkey is another excellent choice for freezing as it has a high fat content that helps preserve its flavor and texture over extended periods of time.

Overall, determining which cuts of meat you should store long-term depends on what type of meat you are storing as well as how much time you plan on storing it. Each cut has its own set of benefits and drawbacks that must be taken into consideration before making a decision. With that said, you should always consult with your local butcher or knowledgeable source when it comes to food storage practices before proceeding with any plans.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions with Explanations

What is the best way to ensure the safety and quality of meat when storing long-term?

The best way to ensure the safety and quality of meat when storing long-term is through proper storage, handling, and preparation techniques. When storing meat for an extended period of time, it is important to keep it at a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Meat should be tightly wrapped in plastic or aluminum foil to help prevent air from entering and contaminating the product. It is also important to portion out the meat into smaller batches for easier storage. This will reduce moisture loss and prevent freezer burn.

In addition to correct storage techniques, proper handling, preparation and cooking are essential for the quality and safety of meat when storing long term. Raw meat should always be handled with gloves so as not to contaminate other surfaces with bacteria. Cooking fresh or frozen meat thoroughly, until it reaches the recommended internal temperature, will also ensure that any potential bacteria has been killed off.

By following these steps, you can guarantee that your stored meats are safe to eat and remain at a high quality of flavor and texture.

What techniques or methods are best for storing meat long-term?

When it comes to storing meat long-term, the best techniques and methods are freezing, canning, curing, and smoking.

Freezing is a great way to store meat long-term because it is fast and simple. It preserves most of the flavor and nutritional value of the food while allowing you to keep it for extended periods of time. When frozen correctly, most meats will stay safe for up to 12 months or even longer.

Canned meat is another good option when it comes to long-term storage. Canning helps to preserve flavor and nutrition while increasing shelf life and will last for up to 5 years in the pantry, providing you with a reliable source of protein when needed.

Curing and smoking are traditional ways of preserving meat for extended periods. Curing involves soaking the meat in brine or marinade, while smoking involves using smoke to preserve the meat. Both methods infuse flavors into the meat while increasing its shelf life significantly, as cured and smoked meats can often be stored for up to one year without spoiling.

Overall, there are a number of techniques and methods available for storing meat long-term that can be adapted depending on your needs – choose what works best for you!

What are the most commonly used cuts of meat for long-term storage?

The most commonly used cuts of meat for long-term storage are chuck roast, brisket, short ribs, shoulder roast, and pork shoulder. Chuck roast is a tougher cut of beef that works really well for slow cooking or smoking for long-term storage. Brisket is a flat cut of beef that is cooked low and slow to make it more tender and can be stored as pastrami or corned beef. Short ribs are an affordable and flavorful cut of beef that can be braised in an oven or smoked for long-term storage. Shoulder roast is a flavor-packed cut of beef that can be braised, smoked, or slow cooked in oil and stored as pulled beef. Finally, pork shoulder is a great option for long-term storage as smoked pork butt or cubed pork shoulder. No matter which cut you choose, all of these options will provide delicious meals with minimal effort.

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