There are several questions that plague every cook when you’re out shopping for meat, “Do I buy frozen meat or should I buy fresh meat?”. “Which is better?”. “It’s convenient sure, but is frozen meat even healthy?”. “What’s the big difference between frozen or fresh meat?”. And then there’s the question of the price difference between the two meats to consider too. Not to mention the quality of the meat which also should be considered as it could affect the taste, texture and coming time of the dish you’re cooking and through that the health of you and your family. As if all this isn’t confusing enough, there are other factors too that come into play too like hygienic living conditions for the animals, vaccinations against diseases, feed that the animals eat, processing, packaging, preventing contamination, day of butchering and so many others that it becomes a mind boggling process to choose something as simple as meat!
Firstly let’s discuss about fresh meat. The meaning of “Fresh” has changed considerably in the consumer’s minds as the years have passed on. According to a press officer at the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), they have two regulations on ‘fresh’. Here’s what he pointed out:
9 CFR 317.8(b)(6) and 381.129(b)(6)(i)
“Fresh,” “not frozen” and similar terms when labeling meat and poultry products:
The word —“fresh” may not be used to describe:
- Any cured product, e.g., smoked cured turkey, or prosciutto.
- Any canned, hermetically sealed, shelf-stable, dried or chemically preserved product.
- Any raw poultry, poultry part or any edible portion thereof whose internal temperature has ever been below 26°F.
- Any injected, basted, marinated poultry, poultry part or any edible portion thereof whose internal temperature has ever been below 26°F.
- Any other finished processed poultry product (including cooked poultry products) where its temperature has ever been below 26°F, e.g., turkey sausage, chicken meatballs, cooked breaded chicken nuggets, etc.
- Any uncured red meat product permitted to be treated with a substance that delays discoloration, such as, ascorbic acid, erythorbic acid or citric acid.
- Any product treated with an antimicrobial substance or irradiated.
- The phrase —“never frozen” or similar verbiage is not permitted on an unprocessed or processed poultry product where the internal temperature of the product has ever been below 0°F or on any red-meat product that has ever been frozen. (Source: meatpoultry)
Now this is an American organisation, but most of the terms apply even to us Indians too. After all it is food that is being defined here. With all that said, with fresh meat you know when the animal was butchered and you know there’s a definite date. Freshness guarantees flavor and the quality of your proteins in the meat, which makes it healthier.
“Let’s define frozen meat and look at the pros and cons. Why do we freeze meat when there’s a supply of fresh meat available? Simple, for preservation or extending the shelf life of the meats which allows the farmer or supplier to market them easily. Frozen products do not require any added preservatives because microorganisms do not grow when the temperature of the food is below −9.5 °C (15 °F), which is sufficient on its own in preventing food spoilage. Hence freezing of meat is sometimes necessary, for one it allows you to control your portions and secondly, we all store food in case of emergencies. There’s also the case of exotic meats which might not be available fresh where you live, then you definitely have to buy the frozen variety. Looking at pro’s of frozen meat now –
- Freezing is an effective form of food preservation because the pathogens that cause food spoilage are killed or do not grow very rapidly at reduced temperatures.
- It allows for portion control.
- You can always count on frozen food for emergencies.
- In most cases, frozen meat is cost effective and definitely easily available and time effective too.
As for the cons of freezing, here we go –
- Taste is king, and the first thing that is affected during the freezing of meat is the flavor. The speed at which something was frozen changes the amount of ice crystals that are created inside the cells of your meat. Slow freezing creates a few large crystals and quick freezing creates a large number of small crystals. Ice crystals no matter the size can damage the cell walls inside of your protein and ruin its texture as well as destroy natural juices during the thawing process.
- You don’t have an exact date for when the animal was butchered or how many processing cycles, thaw and freeze cycles and unwanted additives is in your frozen meat.
- Multiple freeze/thaw cycles can degrade the structural integrity of the meat (altering texture) and allow it to dehydrate, which may alter cooking time and taste/texture as well.
- Red meat can be frozen for months without spoiling, which means there is no guarantee on how old the product you are purchasing is.
When we look at all this, it still seems confusing and you’re taken right back to the old advertisement on TV, where a little boy desperate to eat some chicken for dinner asks his mother shopping at a supermarket to get some chicken for curry. And the only chicken in the freezer looks like a pack of unappetizing ice cubes which is totally inedible, resulting in the child looking forlornly at his mother saying “so hard, na Mama?”. And the mother torn between her mother’s instinct to protect her family’s health and child’s craving for chicken curry, looks around helplessly. Lo and behold! Help arrives in the form of a fellow housewife who shows the mother and child a particular brand which gives you the perfect, soft and juicy chicken every time. Best scene cuts to our original mother and son duo at home with their family girly digging into their perfect chicken curry from frozen chicken which unlike other brands is quite healthy. You might choose to believe it or not, totally up to you.
Basically, the fact remains that fresh always trumps over frozen any day. Freshness guarantees flavor and quality of your proteins, and then there is no loss of vitamins from the freeze thaw cycles from frozen meat. You can always buy in bulk and then freeze the meat whichever way you want to. This allows for marinating the meat as you see fit and then cooking it at your convenience. And if for any reason, fresh meat is not easily available you can still choose frozen.
Just keep in mind these few tips while buying the meat, read the instructions on the pack carefully and avoid anything processed with water, “solution”, “enhancements” or ground or trimmed meat not done in a store. Or any meat processed in a factory or in bulk. These generally tend to be so processed, adulterated, and easily contaminated that it will definitely affect the taste, texture and cooking time of your meat and finally your food will be affected too. Also do ensure to follow a safe thawing process for your fish meat as these are perishable items, thaw the frozen meat in the refrigerator rather than leaving it outside on your cooking counter or in hot water. Use frozen meat within six months, before it deteriorates. Although its nutrients will remain largely unaffected, after this time the meat becomes increasingly watery, limp and tasteless.
With all this we come to Freshrocket, where we go by the motto: We care which is why, our meat is no ordinary fare! We offer you a range of organic and free-range meat which is healthy for you and your family. The meat we deliver to you is never frozen, cut as per your preference and ready to be cooked. We ensure that the meat is carefully packed in separate vacuum packs as soon as they are cut to preserve their freshness. Furthermore, the meat travels in a container that is constantly kept at an optimum cool temperature which helps keeping the meat tender and preserves its natural taste. So in the end, Freshrocket offers you an option of healthy, nutritious and fresh meat at great and affordable prices which will keep you and your family happy. What’s more is that they deliver the meat to your doorstep in 60 minutes! This makes Freshrocket an ideal choice for all the meats that you’ll ever need. All you need to do is download an app and a tasty meal with fresh meat is almost ready in your kitchen.
So armed with all this information, we think you’re ready to make an informed decision on what should and shouldn’t be part of your kitchen and diet for a healthy life. Now you’re ready, steady and all-set-to-go into your kitchen. Happy cooking!