If you’ve chatted with our customer service team, you know that they are a treasure trove of knowledge regarding all things Grass Roots. From how our animals are raised to the details of what our insulation is made of, they’ve got almost all the answers. And if they don’t know what you’re looking for off the top of their sweet little heads, they know who to ask. To create this first post of our Tips & Tricks from the Grass Roots Service Team series, we chatted with them about the questions they hear most often about receiving, storing and thawing meat.
Receiving Your Box
So, you’ve placed your order and are eagerly awaiting delivery day. We don’t blame you. Filling your freezer with the best meat in America is like buying yourself that new bike you wanted for your 10th birthday but didn’t get. Well, happy belated! We’re thrilled you’ve decided to treat yourself and your household. And we’re here to help make sure you enjoy every bite.
Step one, don’t hurt yourself. Not what you expected to hear? You’ve just ordered meat right, am I right? And you're not the kind of person who assumes there’s danger at every turn. Good for you. But, in this case, we do want to warn you—we ship our boxes with dry ice to ensure the quality of your meat as it travels to your doorstep. Our goal is to pack with perfect precision—that is, to make sure that we use enough ice to keep your meat cold as it makes its journey to you but not so much that you have much ice left in your box when you receive it. Fun fact about dry ice, it sublimates over time. So, your box may be empty of most of the ice it started with when you receive it. Another fun fact, if you touch it with bare hands it will burn you. Yikes, right?! So, if there are pieces of ice left, we recommend picking it up by the bag it comes in and putting it outside until it disappears. If pieces of ice have come out of their packaging and are loose in your box, use kitchen gloves or a dish towel to unload your meat, then stick the whole box outside.
Breaking Down Your Box
Since you’re choosing to buy meat raised regeneratively, you probably care at least a little bit about the health of this planet we all share. So do we! Which is why we ship our boxes with the most sustainable materials we can find. That box you just received is 100% recyclable! The insulation it was packed with is biodegradable and compostable. So, slice up that packaging tape and put that cardboard wherever you recycle your recyclables. If you have curbside composting, good on you! If not, stick it in your backyard bin. Don’t have one yet? Wow the kids you live with or just the kid who lives inside of you by dissolving it in water!
Storing Your Meat
This is the really fun part—thinking about what you want to eat first! The cuts you plan to cook in the next day or two, you can stick in the fridge to start the thawing process. Anything that you’re planning to save for a TBD cook date—ah, there’s nothing like the anticipation of great meat—the best food-safety practice is to store in your freezer. If that package you received has started to thaw, it can still be refrozen. If there is air in the package when you receive it—likely caused by a micro tear in the vacuum seal while your box was in transit—we recommend repacking in a food-grade packaging from which you squeeze out as much air as possible. This step will help prevent freezer burn. If you’re planning to eat this cut within a couple of weeks, new packaging probably isn’t necessary. Don’t forget to label it with the product name and weight.
If your freezer is set to a sub-zero temperature—as is almost always the case with a chest or deep freezer, our favorite amenity for bulk buying and having your favorite meats at the ready—your meats will be safe from foodborne illness for years to come. But because proteins can start to break down over time, which changes the texture and sometimes flavor of meat, we recommend eating anything ground—beef, sausages, etc—within six months of receiving them and anything else within a year.
By far the safest way to thaw meat is in the refrigerator. It’s not ideal for last-minute meals, but most cuts will fully thaw within 12-24 hours. So, just try to plan about a day ahead if this is the route you want to take. For larger cuts, like a whole turkey, you’ll need about 24 hours of thaw time for every 5 lbs of meat.
Also, a very important tip here, don’t forget to put a tray or a bowl under whatever you’re thawing. As your box ships, packages can bump into one another, which may cause small, barely visible tears in the packaging. This won’t affect quality or safety—as long as your box is cold when you get it and you store and thaw properly—but meat does have water in its protein that can be released as it thaws. Using something to catch that liquid will save you from having to wipe down your fridge!
After thawing, you’ll want to get that meat cooked within a certain amount of time, which varies depending on what you’ve thawed. Ground meat, stew meat, and poultry are best if eaten within 1-2 days. Whole muscle beef and pork—chops, steaks, roasts, etc—should be safe for 3 to 5 days.
Forgot to thaw in advance and need a meal for tonight? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a link to our guide for how to cook frozen meat. Didn’t know that was possible? Read all about it here.
Cold Water Thawing
You’re running a bit behind on your meal planning. It happens to the best of us. There is another option, but—be warned—it’s a little more finicky.
You start by placing your meat in a leak-proof bag. Then, you submerged the whole package in cold water, which needs to be changed about every 30 minutes.
Small packages of meat—anything that’s about a pound—may thaw in an hour or less. For anything more than a pound but less than four, plan on about 2 to 3 hours. For whole turkeys, estimate about 30 minutes per pound.
With this method, to be sure you are checking all the food safety boxes, you’ll want to cook your meat as soon as it’s thawed.
Now you have the most important tips and tricks on receiving, storing, and thawing your favorite meats! The Grass Roots team works hard day in and day out to get the highest quality meats to your front door. Remember that our Customer Service team is here to help with any questions you might have. You can reach them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org