It is technically safe to place plastic-wrapped meat in the freezer, but there’s a few reasons why you might want to take that extra step.
More often than not, the butcher’s section of your local supermarket will offer discounts on greater quantities of meat, and you might find yourself with excess meat that needs to be preserved.
You may be inclined to toss your pre-packaged meat into the freezer, which is a safe way to ensure you can enjoy most meats for up to three or four months, according to the FDA.
But a major reason you might want to invest in a roll of butcher-approved wax paper is that most grocers choose to wrap their meat cuts in permeable packaging – meaning air can affect the quality of your meat as it sits in your freezer, often causing freezer burn over extended periods of time.
Freezer burn can occur with frozen meats when the dry air inside your freezer causes dehydration and oxidation over time. If your meat happens to get exposed to the harsh cold and shows signs of freezer burn, you’ll still be able to eat it – but it won't taste as good.
Another reason to invest in an additional layer of wrapping for your meats is the unforeseen chance your store wrapping rips or tears. If you happen to tear or even poke a small hole in the minimal packaging of your meats, freezer burn is a safe bet.
A low-cost safety net to always ensure your meat is as fresh and high quality as the day you purchased it is to wrap your meat with wax paper before storing it in the freezer. It’s a bit of a long-lost art form – independent butchers have always wrapped customers’ purchases in wax paper for long-term storage, and the practice became somewhat of a luxury in the modern grocery market.
There are many variations of butcher or freezer wax paper available to purchase – choose one that has a substantiated coating of wax on one side of the paper. You can then simply tuck your plastic-wrapped meats into the wax paper, just make sure the waxy side touches the meat.
Tape the tightly-wrapped package shut and clearly mark the date as well as what kind of meat or fish it is with a sharpie, and you’ll always know what’s inside. To be extra careful, some will even coat this package in aluminum foil, which can be reused again with the next package of meat you place inside your freezer.
There’s nothing worse than taking out an expensive cut of meat to see that it’s fallen victim to freezer burn. Avoid the agonizing pain of throwing out inedible meats with a few minutes of extra prep.