can i eat this? future edition
July 5, 2020 6:26 PM   Subscribe

There's some sausage I like that's only available for a limited time. The package says to eat within thirty days of freezing. If I pull it out of the freezer in six months, will I be OK?

I picked up some Johnsonville Firecracker brats for a cookout today, and they were yummy. I'd like to add them into my rotation, but they're a seasonal product. The good news is that we have an extra freezer to stockpile meat in, so I can buy in bulk and freeze them, but the package says not to do that. The freezer is a big fancy commercial guy that we got from a friend who's a professional butcher. It keeps things really darn cold, and we've got it stocked with every other kind of meat you can think of (OK, really just chicken, beef, a little pork, and some fish). Is there any good reason why I couldn't stock up on sausage and freeze it, too? I've always been under the impression that frozen foods, as long as they don't thaw and refreeze or anything, stay good pretty much forever, but the note on the package has me questioning that now. And if the acceptable period is 30 days < x < infinity, what is x? Sixty days? Six months? Curious about this now.
posted by kevinbelt to Food & Drink (5 answers total)
I freeze sausages for months on end. They're fine for years (I've eaten sausages I froze two years earlier with no health or quality issues). You may experience a slight decrease in optimal texture after the 30 days they claim, but to be honest I've never noticed. I generally vacuum seal meats that I freeze but I've also frozen sausages in their package with no real issues.
posted by kdar at 6:34 PM on July 5, 2020 [7 favorites]

Frozen food never becomes unsafe, as long as it remains frozen and it was safe going in. I might feel differently about some kind of crazy high-end luxury sausages but for Johnsonville (a fine brand, no doubt), I’d say a year or two is no problem. But FWIW the US FDA agrees with Johnsonville that texture/quality is best within 1-2 months.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:41 PM on July 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

oh yeah, you'll for sure be fine. I think it's just an "optimal taste/texture" thing, more than a food safety thing.

I'd personally remove them from their packaging if they come on a styrofoam tray though and vacuum seal them in something that is designed to be frozen. (even using water-immersion method in freezer bags will be better than that packaging.) Their packaging looks like it will be prone to freezer burn with all the air pockets, and I'm not sure that all plastic films are safe to freeze!

I ate some freezer jam I made in 2015 a couple months ago - I think if things stay frozen they're okay to eat, but freezer burn doesn't taste great!
posted by euphoria066 at 6:56 PM on July 5, 2020 [6 favorites]

Frostless freezers have cycles where they warm up slightly to prevent frost from building up, and can cause food in the freezer to slightly thaw and then freeze, causing ice crystals to build up, which can seriously degrade food over time. But your freezer almost definitely doesn’t do that, it’s mostly for combo refrigerator/freezers. I’ve got a chest freezer, meat keeps good in there six months easily. Even in regular frostless freezers, I don’t think you’d notice a degradation for a couple months at least.
posted by skewed at 8:18 PM on July 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

I do this in a chest freezer with very nice sausage six months or thereabouts (it wouldn't concern me to go longer, but I've usually gone through it all by then). Haven't even noticed any change in texture. I get these in 5 lb. flats and repackage them in double freezer ziplocks; if they were already vacuum-sealed like every Johnsonville I've seen, I probably wouldn't even bother with that step.

IME pork, lamb, and beef sausage freeze quite well - I notice texture differences with chicken and find it a little less forgiving in general, both in sausage and other forms.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:15 AM on July 6, 2020

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