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Packaging, Freezing and re-heating Left over cooked meats

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    Packaging, Freezing and re-heating Left over cooked meats

    Hello All, I'm looking for some best practices for storing/freezing left over meats, particularly pulled pork and brisket. I tend to cook far more than the gathering can consume in one sitting so we always have left overs. I don't have a vacuum sealer. What's the best method of packaging and then freezing these meats for future meals without creating freezer burn and preservation of their 'right of the smoker' taste? Reheating tips would be helpful too. If an article already exists on this website, maybe someone can forward me a link. Thanks in advance!


    A vacuum sealer is probably the best method, but if you don't have one, you can try this:

    Portion the leftovers and place them in a freezer zipper bag. With the bg unsealed, place it carefully in a container of water. This will force most of the air out of the bag. Once the air is removed, seal the bag and then remove from the water.

    I do think that a vac sealer is worth the $$ though. You will remove close to all the air, and the bags are made of thicker material and will keep your product fresh much longer that a zipper bag.


      If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, this is the next best thing. Glad Press n’ Seal. In fact, I’ve had a vacuum sealer for years and rarely use it anymore. This stuff is great for sealing any type of meat. It’s very sticky and a lot thicker than Syran Wrap. After wrapping the meat in this, it’s best to then place them in regular freezer bags. Squeeze all the air out. I’ve never had freezer burn using this stuff and it’s a lot cheaper than sealer bags.

      Click image for larger version  Name:	59BB91AE-E9A5-4497-BED1-7CEC4137A5B4.jpeg Views:	1 Size:	54.7 KB ID:	1106249
      Last edited by Panhead John; October 7, 2021, 06:56 AM.


      • GolfGeezer
        GolfGeezer commented
        Editing a comment
        I haven't counted, but this must be the 5th or 6th useful post from PJ! Out of over 2,000! I am in awe!! 😎

      • Panhead John
        Panhead John commented
        Editing a comment
        2 more useful posts and we’re even! 🥸

      Panhead John Glad Press n’ Seal you say, Perhaps I will get some today, I will look for a coupon to seal the deal.

      Do you use scented or unscented?
      Last edited by bbqLuv; October 7, 2021, 07:01 AM.


        Another option beside a true vacuum sealer is little gem off Amazon. I’ve used it a lot this year and works well with my Sous Vide I got for Father's Day. I can confirm the bag in the water trick is a good one. Haven’t tried Press n Seal, but will.

        Sous Vide Bags Kit 20 Pcs For Anova and Joule Cookers, 15 Reusable BPA Free Food Vacuum Sealer Bags, 1 Hand Pump and 2 Sealing Clip and 2 Sous Vide Ba https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XC8GNNY..._WMFHp2xI9uosK


          I agree that a vacuum sealer is worth the cost. The longer you will be storing the meat, the more important the absence of air and heavier bag are.

          For pulled pork, I pull the entire butt when I cook it and then freeze individual meal sized packages. With brisket, I've found it best to slice when you are going to eat it. That means packaging meal sized portions, reheating, then slicing. For both pulled pork and brisket, I use sous vide to reheat. If you don't have a sous vide, you can reheat on your smoker. If you want to avoid firing up the smoker, you can warm a pot of water on the stove to around your target eating temperature and immerse your meat in there.


            Another vote for a vac sealer. I have a Cabelas brand and it works great. Meat purchases from Costco trips get split up right away into my meal cooks. Love being able to store thicker soups, green chile stew using the vac seal bags.

            for your pork and brisket - easy to seal up and freeze. Then for reheat, others have mentioned great ways. All are gentle reheats.


              For reheating, I prefer to use either my pellet smoker, or oven first and slowly bring it back to temp. Depends on the what I am reheating. I don't have a SV system and don't anticipate getting one but I hear good things about those. I basically try to avoid using a microwave if possible but sometimes that's just not an option.


                What is the downside of using a microwave?


                • Draznnl
                  Draznnl commented
                  Editing a comment
                  In the past, I've found that meat reheated in the microwave tends to come out rubbery and chewy.

                • Murdy
                  Murdy commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I do not use it for meats cooked to rare, but I've never noted a problem on things like pulled pork, sloppy joes, chili, and such. If my pork dried out a little, a little BBQ sauce would fix it just fine for a left-over meal. Personal preference (or laziness) I suppose.

                • bbqLuv
                  bbqLuv commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I have found no downside to reheating meat using a microwave using low power and only heating to warm it up.

                (1) chill and freeze food promptly after making, (2) use a heavy duty container (freezer bag, plastic container, freezer-safe canning jar, etc.) for durability when knocking around in the freezer, (3) eliminate as much of the air in the container as you possibly can to minimize freezer burn, and (4) get frozen foods rotated back out of the freezer and eaten within a reasonable time.

                I use a vacuum sealer, but the water displacement method (see RonB's post) works in a pinch. Having lived for years without a vac sealer and years with one, The benefit of the vac sealer outweighs the costs if a person likes to preserve garden produce, buy in bulk during meat sales, or prepare and freeze meals for eating later. If food doesn't stay long in a person's freezer, then a vac sealer probably isn't worth it.

                If I don't use heavy duty vac sealer bags, I use the heavier zipper top freezer bags. The only time I use regular zipper top bags for freezer storage is for bakery goods that (ideally) are in the freezer for a couple of weeks at most.

                I also have learned to label every package with a description and date, despite how tempted I am to be lazy and not do this. That helps the food get eaten in a timely way.

                edit: Oh, and if possible, freeze foods as flat and thin as possible so the food freezes quickly.
                Last edited by IowaGirl; October 7, 2021, 08:03 AM.


                • tbob4
                  tbob4 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Label +1. Can’t tell you how many “what is is?” Experiences I have had. While I do label now, I wouldn’t have thought to add it as advice. Great job.

                • Draznnl
                  Draznnl commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Yes, labeling is crucial. Everything tends to look the same when it's in freezer bags.

                I use the vacuum sealer all the time and it has many uses. Avid Armor is what we have and have been very pleased. If not, then you have received some great advice above as well.


                  Ron's post covers it. The key thing is to get as much air out as possible and to use freezer bags which are designed to be less gas permeable. The reason to get air out is freezer burn which ruins the texture.


                    I can only add that you need a vacuum sealer. It’s a game changer.
                    Half of my freezer is stuffed with vac sealed bags.
                    Trust me on this one. You won’t look back.


                      Thanks everyone. Great take always from this discussion. Fortunately I have a brisket coming up this weekend I’ll be able to experiment with. Sounds like the vacuum sealer might be a good future investment.


                      • rickgregory
                        rickgregory commented
                        Editing a comment
                        ON brisket, don't slice it before freezing. Just portion it into about as much as you'll need for a meal, then seal/bag and freeze. Slice after reheating.

                      Originally posted by spaterno12 View Post
                      I don't have a vacuum sealer.
                      Seriously? Hello - buy one.



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