Lamb is one of the oldest constant sources of high-quality protein in the human diet.
It is surprising how rarely it is consumed nowadays, but we can only assume this is due to its distinctive taste and scent, which does not always match modern culinary trends.
In most parts of the world, lamb is prepared on special occasions like national holidays. Such occasions often leave us with incredible amounts of leftover cooked lamb that we know we will not eat in the following 3–4 days.
With this said, can you freeze cooked lamb? Yes, you can freeze cooked lamb. While it is best to freeze lamb meat when it is fresh and uncooked, you can also freeze cooked lamb and extend its shelf life up to 2–3 months. However, the meat may undergo changes in texture and lose some of its distinctive flavor.
If you are unfamiliar with the process of freezing cooked meat, you can follow the entire process shown in the following article.
Along with instructions for preserving your lamb, we will provide all the information you need to choose the best lamb meat from the store and prepare it for cooking.
We will also address the common problems that people have with the odor of fresh lamb meat and other important factors to consider.
Freezing Cooked Lamb
Lamb is easily susceptible to spoilage, so it should always be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Fresh lamb can last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Cooked lamb can be frozen safely and should be eaten within 2–3 months after storage.
Remember that frozen cooked meat does not last as long as frozen fresh meat.
How to Freeze Cooked Lamb
The process of freezing cooked lamb is simple and straightforward. For your convenience, we have structured it into several short steps to make it easier to remember.
Step 1: Prepare the Lamb
It won’t matter how you cook your lamb, since there are several traditional methods. As long as you aren’t freezing cooked lamb that is soaked in sauce and liquids, you shouldn’t have to worry about the subtleties.
You have the option to freeze the cooked lamb whole or shredded into pieces, as you would with pulled pork. It is generally accepted that freezing meat in one piece is the best way to preserve its flavor.
However, as long as you seal the meat correctly, you are still looking at 2–3 months of safe freezing time with near-perfect quality.
Step 2: Choose a Suitable Container
We recommend combining at least two types of packaging to prevent any air from reaching your meat.
For example, if you plan to use a heavy-duty freezer bag, we recommend wrapping the cooked lamb in aluminum foil as well.
Step 3: Pack and Seal
So, you have your cooked lamb and your container of choice. Now, you need to freeze it as best as possible.
Our recommendation is to freeze your food in desired portions. You don’t want to reheat your lamb only to find that you made too much and have it go to waste.
When you are placing your food into its container, remove as much air as possible. Make sure to choose one that is absolutely airtight if you want to prevent the risk of freezer burn.
Best Storage Practices for Lamb
As previously mentioned, lamb meat will spoil in no time if stored incorrectly. Now that you know how to freeze your cooked lamb meat, we can focus on the best storage practices for fresh lamb meat.
On the Way Home
Primarily, you should not allow any heat exposure. We cannot stress enough how important it is to keep your lamb in a cold spot. However, we understand that once you buy it from the store, it will spend some time with you in the car.
Keep the lamb away from the windows in your car. Once you get home, you should immediately place it in the refrigerator, unless you plan to cook in the following hour.
Storage in a Refrigerator
Lamb meat bought from the store can be stored for 7-10 days in a refrigerator, as long as you set it to the perfect temperature.
Chances are, your fridge is already set up near these temperature borders, but if not, we recommend changing it.
According to food experts, the temperature in the refrigerator should be between 0 and 4 degrees. This is also the regime that all stores maintain to refrigerate fresh meat in display cases.
This is the perfect environment for lamb meat and should successfully keep it fresh and safe for up to 10 days. Every degree above and below these numbers will likely reduce the time within which it should be cooked.
Can You Refreeze Lamb Meat?
This is a common question about most foods and in most cases, we wouldn’t recommend re-freezing unless completely necessary.
In the case of lamb meat, you should never freeze fresh lamb for a second time.
It is an unwritten rule, but in general, you should just never re-freeze fresh meat. If you thawed frozen lamb and you want to freeze it for a second time, you will need to cook it first.
The good news is, it is perfectly safe to freeze lamb meat for a second time as long as it is cooked.
How Do You Detect Spoiled Lamb Meat?
Spoiled lamb meat is easy to detect, but it is harder to detect when good meat is about to spoil. In each case, always cook your lamb meat within the given expiration date, or within 3 days in the refrigerator.
As for spoiled lamb meat, there are a few signs to look for. As with any other food, you should be looking for unpleasant odors. Since lamb meat is famous for its odor, it should be easier to detect changes to the scent.
Another sign of spoilage is the change in texture. If the surface of the meat appears to be sticky when you touch it, that is a sign that you should dispose of the lamb.
Can You Eat Year-Old Frozen Meat?
This question can be answered about uncooked frozen meat. Generally, frozen raw meat will keep for several months, and will usually be safe to eat for up to 12 months.
It may keep for longer, but the longer it sits in your freezer, the higher the risk of spoilage or freezer burn.
However, you should not forget that the quality of any meat, or food in general, decreases with time.
Even if it is considered safe to eat a year after it’s been the freezer, we do not recommend it.
It will not have the same taste and texture it had when it was freshly purchased, and it could potentially be dangerous for your health, even if it seems fine.
Does Freezing Lamb Affect the Taste?
While freezing lamb will not alter the nutritional value of the meat, it could potentially result in loss of flavor, to some extent.
The ice crystals that freezing forms will pierce through the meat, resulting in the breakdown of fibers. This means that it could lose some of its natural flavors.
How Do You Remove the Lamb Meat Smell?
If you want to eliminate the smell of lamb, because this meat, in particular, is quite strong, we offer an unconventional method – soaking it in vodka or other cooking alcohols for an hour.
This will help remove excess blood and disguise the leftover scent. Depending on the kind of alcohol you choose, soaking the meat can even give your lamb an extra layer of flavor.
If you do not want to waste your vodka or do not want to risk the above method, salt the raw lamb to remove some of the blood before cooking, and add rosemary, garlic, or lemon juice to the meat.
This should significantly reduce the unpleasant odor.
How Do You Know If Lamb Meat is Fresh?
Unfortunately, many stores sell lamb meat that has already been frozen once. They do not specify it on the label, but as we mentioned, you can only freeze lamb meat for a second time after cooking.
In other words, you should always know what you are buying. Here is how to know whether the lamb meat is completely fresh or has been frozen in the past.
All you have to do is press the meat with your finger. Fresh meat should not form a clear dent, and the blood in the meat should not fill it.
If you see that the indentation is made clearly and distinctly without the meat returning to its normal shape while filling with blood, then the meat has been frozen.