The marvel of modern refrigeration has allowed us to keep a greater variety and quantity of food in good condition for a longer period than our predecessors. Purchasing groceries in bulk would just not be possible without the ability to freeze a portion of it for later consumption. The real question is, though — should you?
According to the USDA, you can freeze sausage for as long as you like, provided that the freezer maintains a constant temperature at or below 0ᐤF (-17ᐤC). However, raw frozen sausage will only maintain its quality for about 2 months, while frozen cooked sausage will remain at peak quality for up to 3 months.
The rest of the article will go into greater detail on the topic and answer some commonly asked questions.
How Long Does Sausage Keep in the Freezer?
While sausage can be kept in the freezer indefinitely, the USDA says that about pretty much any meat. And in theory, this is correct: any food stored at or below 0ᐤ Fahrenheit is safe from bacterial growth and secretions for as long as the temperature remains that cold. However, the quality of frozen foods (including sausage) will depreciate over time.
Raw sausage will endure up to 2 months of freezing before the taste and texture begin to degrade. This is also true for most store-bought sausage products that do not require cooking, such as:
- Hard sausages
- Dried or semi-dry sausages
- Pre-cooked hot dogs or sausages
However, if you were to purchase raw sausage fresh out of the butcher’s shop, take it home, and cook it yourself before freezing it; in this case, the USDA suggests that freezing will preserve the quality of the sausage for at least two months and continuing up to three months.
Is It Safe to Eat Year-Old Frozen Sausage?
Year-old frozen sausage is generally safe to eat, assuming it has been stored properly. However, the quality will decrease over time. This is due to freezer burn rather than microbial contamination, and it becomes a more important issue for foods that have a lot of water content.
You should reconsider eating sausage that has been in a freezer for a year or more. You must acknowledge the possibility that at any point during the sausage’s tenure, the freezer may have temporarily failed to maintain the temperatures required to preserve the safety of the sausage and negatively impact its freshness.
Additionally, the flavor and texture are likely to have become damaged by the environment of the freezer. This might be less of a concern for hard, dry, and semi-dry sausages since they have a lower water content than other sausages, but even those will be affected by freezer burn eventually.
Should Sausage Be Frozen?
There are no arguments specifically against freezing any kind of sausage, regardless of whether it is raw, cooked, or dried.
Furthermore, the lower water content of most sausages relative to other kinds of meat will make them less susceptible to freezer burn. However, sausage has a different freezer life based on its type and how it is prepared.
Can You Freeze Raw Sausage?
You can freeze any kind of raw and uncooked sausage. The USDA suggests that this sausage be thawed, cooked thoroughly, and consumed within one or two months of the date at which the sausage was frozen.
Can You Freeze Cooked Sausage?
You can freeze any kind of cooked sausage. The USDA also suggests that cooked sausage be thawed, properly heated, and eaten within one or two months of having been frozen.
Is It Better to Freeze Sausage Raw or Cooked?
It is better to freeze cooked sausage instead of raw. Raw sausage will keep in a freezer for one or two months before the quality begins to suffer, regardless of content or type. However, cooked sausage can last at peak quality for two or three months in the freezer.
If you need to maximize the shelf life of your frozen sausage, then cooking and freezing it yourself is the best way to go.
Can I Freeze Cooked Sausage and Peppers?
You can freeze cooked sausage and peppers, but the peppers will likely get freezer burn much sooner than the sausage due to the high water content. Therefore, it is best to remove the peppers from the dish before freezing.
This is because even though the sausage may not be as affected, the extra water content will still adversely impact the quality of the sausage so long as the sausage and the peppers are stored together. The increased propensity for freezer burn will ultimately decrease the shelf life of your frozen sausage, although it is still likely that the peppers will go first.
How Do You Freeze Sausage?
If you want to maximize the shelf life of frozen sausage, you will want to store it in an airtight container with as little air inside as possible. Use glass or plastic containers or vacuum-sealed bags.
Here is an excellent airtight container that is specifically designed to work well whether in the fridge or freezer.
Additionally, the less water your sausage contains, the more success you will have in freezing it. This can be a little more difficult to control: some types of sausage are drier than others, and your cooking method will also influence the amount of water in your sausage. Consider using hard or dry sausages and recipes with minimal extra water.
How Do You Thaw Frozen Sausage?
Thawing sausage in your refrigerator is the best method. Simply move your sausage from the freezer to the fridge without removing it from its airtight container for a few hours to a day before you intend to cook it.
Remember that you can often cook frozen sausage straight out of the freezer, although it will take a little longer than if it were to thaw.
The most important aspect of thawing frozen sausage is ensuring that no parts of it reach a warm enough temperature to encourage bacterial growth while it is thawing. There are three ways you can thaw frozen sausage:
- In the refrigerator
- In cold water
- In the microwave
Each of these methods will keep your frozen sausage from fostering any unhealthy bacteria while it ‘melts.’ However, if you use cold water to thaw your sausage, you will need to replace the water every 30 minutes to maintain a safe temperature. Using a microwave will require that your freshly thawed sausage be cooked right away.
How Do You Reheat Frozen Sausage?
Sausage can be reheated whether it has been thawed or not. As long as you cook the sausage thoroughly, starting with frozen sausage will only increase the cooking time.
You can also refreeze your sausage after cooking it, but only refreeze uncooked sausage if it has not gone unrefrigerated for two or more hours.
You can freeze any kind of sausage for as long as you would like; however, it will begin to lose quality in both taste and texture after about two months. Avoid this by cooking fresh sausage and freezing it immediately, upon which it will last up to three months. Do not eat frozen sausage if you suspect that it may not have been stored consistently at or below 0ᐤF or that it has been outside of refrigeration for two or more hours.
This is because warm temperatures on the surface of the meat can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria, which may cause food poisoning. If you are concerned about the safety of your food or just need a quick reminder on what temperature to cook your frozen sausage at, consider downloading the USDA’s Foodkeeper app as a handy reference guide to all things about food safety and storage.
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For more, check out How to Tell When Brats Are Done on Grill | The Best Way.
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.