How to Tell If Frozen Sausage Is Bad (Explained!)
Many people have issues with frozen food, especially meats, used in cooking.
But storing sausage in the freezer is a great way to save money and have something you can quickly whip up into a meal when pressed for time.
If you want to freeze sausage, you should learn how to tell if frozen sausage is bad before filling up the freezer.
Fortunately, too many things must go wrong simultaneously for frozen sausage to even spoil in the first place. Read on to learn more.
Can Frozen Sausage Go Bad?
Knowing how to tell if frozen sausage is bad first requires defining the term “bad” in the context of frozen food.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that food such as meat can be stored indefinitely in the freezer. Sausages can also be refrozen.
But bad can refer to a few things, with the most common definitions being:
- Loss of nutrients
- Poor taste
- Bacteria growth
Frozen sausage can spoil under specific circumstances.
For example, an extended power outage that thaws the sausage and keeps it at over 40° Fahrenheit for a few hours may cause bacteria growth and make it unsafe to eat, even if cooked.
Improper freezing techniques and poor packaging can release moisture and change the frozen sausage’s taste, texture, and smell, making it less tasty.
The meat used in sausage also contains various enzymes that can alter its quality. However, freezing slows the enzymes, thus extending the shelf life of sausage.
How Do You Know If Frozen Sausage Has Gone Bad?
You can use a few methods when you don’t know how to tell if frozen sausage is bad.
Check the Date
If you froze pre-packaged sausage, its best-by or expiration date should still be visible. Check the date to determine the condition of the frozen sausage.
Freezing sausage can give you an extra half a year of top quality.
However, while the sausage is still safe to eat after six months, it will gradually lose its taste, and some nutrients and its texture might be altered.
It could be a bad sausage, even if it is safe to eat.
Of course, opinions differ here as USDA mentions sausages maintain top quality for up to two months after freezing.
Thaw the Sausage Links
Not everyone records when they put the food in the freezer. So, here’s how to tell if frozen sausage is bad if you can’t remember when you froze it.
Thaw one sausage while leaving the rest in the freezer. Leave it overnight in the fridge, preferably away from other foodstuff, and check on it in the morning.
If the sausage has a bad odor, its color is entirely different, or you even see bacteria growth, it’s safe to assume it’s spoiled, and you can probably throw out the rest as well.
Check if the Sausage Is Cooked
You can freeze raw, pre-cooked, smoked, and cooked sausage. But cooked meat doesn’t hold as well as raw meat when frozen.
Therefore, if you know the date the sausage was frozen and how it was prepared, you should be able to tell if it’s bad.
How to Tell If Frozen Ground Sausage Is Bad?
Storing frozen sausage and ground sausage are no different. Frozen ground meat keeps just as well as whole chunks or emulsified sausage meat when frozen properly.
To determine if your frozen ground sausage is bad, simply do the following:
- Check the date on the packaging
- Check the texture, smell, and moisture content after thawing
- Check if the ground sausage was cooked before freezing
How Long Does Sausage Stay Good If Frozen?
Frozen sausage will stay safe to eat for years as long as the freezing process is uninterrupted. But being safe to eat doesn’t necessarily mean the sausage is good to eat.
Even though freezing slows down the enzymes that naturally deteriorate sausage quality, frozen sausage might lose much of its nutritional value and taste once thawed.
Typically, frozen sausage stays good for up to two months. In this case, good means that sausage retains maximum flavor, nutrients, and moisture.
Tips for Freezing Sausages
Leave Vacuum-Packed Sausages As Is
Vacuum-packed sausage can easily be frozen without repackaging or cooking.
In fact, this will also reduce the chances of freezer burn, thus retaining the sausage quality for longer.
Overwrap Raw and Cooked Sausage
If you’re buying sausage from the butcher or simply avoiding vacuum-packed processed products, you’ll want to overwrap sausage before freezing.
Tightly wrapping sausage keeps the air out, retains moisture, and prevents freezer burn. This isn’t necessary for vacuum-packed products.
Freeze Fresh Sausage Quickly
The longer the sausage sits uncooked, the more time it has to develop bacteria or for the enzymes to lower its quality.
Freezing raw sausages within two days after buying them is recommended if you don’t plan to cook them.
It keeps them from going bad before freezing and will maintain their freshness, quality, and taste much longer.
Freeze Raw Sausage When Possible
You can freeze both raw and cooked sausage. But cooked sausage may go bad after two months in the freezer.
Frozen raw sausage maintains its flavor, nutrients, and overall quality longer than cooked sausage.
Therefore, if you have to choose between the two, stocking the freezer with frozen raw sausage is better.
Use the Quick-Freeze Shelf
Some freezers have quick-freeze shelves.
If you have one, prioritize it when freezing sausage. The faster you freeze sausage, the longer it stays good. It will also lead to less moisture loss during thawing.
Don’t Stack Fresh Sausage in the Freezer
Avoid stacking when freezing multiple packages or sausage batches simultaneously.
It’s best to rearrange the food in your freezer to give each sausage package enough cold air circulation to accelerate the freezing process. You can always restack them later.
As long as your freezer keeps working, freezing food is a much safer way to store cooked or raw sausage than other methods like pickling or canning.
However, if you want to know how to tell if frozen sausage is bad, you have to start dating your packages and use the proper prepping methods.
Unless you froze spoiled sausage or your freezer broke down for more than half a day, odds are your frozen links are still safe to eat.