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Inspired by this comment:

Try to replace [ziplock bags] with something else, and reuse the ones you have until they fall apart. I haven't used ziplock bags in over 5 years and haven't missed them. – lemontwist


We raise and process our own chickens and guinea hens and store them, whole, in large plastic freezer bags in a chest freezer.

What are alternatives for storing whole frozen poultry that don't involve plastic bags?

Suggestions should meet these requirements:

  • Readily available in the US
  • Reliably preserve meat in the freezer without loss of quality for up to 12 months
  • Not make a mess during thawing/defrosting of the meat
  • Not consume large amounts of extra space in the freezer

In the kitchen I generally reach for glass bowls for storing food instead of plastic bags, but (a) I think meat will tend to freezer burn in a bowl and (b) it would take up a lot of extra space.

(Note: I'm aware that there are other, possibly more sustainable, ways of preserving meat without using the freezer; I'm simply looking for alternatives to the plastic bags at the moment.)

  • 1
    Not what you're asking for, but the traditional way to deal with this is to slaughter as you go, 1 at a time, as needed. – Jay Bazuzi Feb 17 '13 at 6:09
  • Yeah, "on the hoof" was what I mentioned in my answer to the linked question. We could head in this direction, but slaughtering chickens in the cold of winter isn't ideal. – bstpierre Feb 17 '13 at 12:41
  • Is it absolutely necessary that they be whole (i.e. you want to roast them)? Chicken pieces will pack into reusable square containers quite nicely with little to no captured air in the container. Obviously this requires quite a bit of extra butchery at slaughter time. – Ladadadada Feb 19 '13 at 8:41
  • It's not absolutely necessary, but given that we do batch-processing (as opposed to as-needed like Jay Bazuzi suggests) the extra labor involved in parting is undesirable. – bstpierre Feb 19 '13 at 13:15
3

Whole chickens I would expect to be a bit of a freezer burn problem with or without ziplock bags. Freezer burn occurs with air contact and I don't see how to deal with this problem without (or, post-cleaning, even with!) a vacuum sealing machine and I suspect ziplock bags may be superior sustainability-wise in the sense that there is at least a chance of sterilizing and re-using the zip-lock bags.

My vote would be to keep the ziplock bags if you can in this specific case.

However, a second point I would make has to do with freezerburned meat. We have a tendency to want to throw away freezerburned meat or treat it as fundamentally degraded, but actually there are a bunch of thins you can do with freezerburned meat where little to no loss of quality is detectable. My favorite is stews (and for fish that would include fish chowders too), so i think part of the strategy however you do it is addressing losses in this way.

  • As an aside, one thing they used to do in the Middle Ages to preserve chicken was to boil it into broth and then use the broth to make beer (along with malt of course!). This sounded really sketchy to me until I came across commercially avaialble beer made with oysters so evidently the use of brewing with animal products has continued to this day. – Chris Travers Feb 17 '13 at 6:33
  • We have pretty good luck without a vacuum machine. They aren't necessarily "perfect", but basically any type of braised dish hides any freezer burn. – bstpierre Feb 17 '13 at 12:49
  • ` any type of braised dish hides any freezer burn...` 100% agreed with that. – Chris Travers Feb 17 '13 at 12:51

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