One of the most frequent concerns related to storing sausages in the freezer is the color change that often occurs.
Sausage discoloration doesn’t always point to something negative, though. For example, if your sausages turned grey in the freezer, it could result from one of several natural processes that occur when meat products are frozen.
In this article, I’ll discuss why your sausage turned grey in the freezer and cover how you can tell if your sausages have gone bad.
Does Sausage Change Color When Frozen?
Sausages don’t necessarily turn grey when they are frozen. There could be many factors that influence sausage discoloration.
For example, the degree and speed at which sausage discoloration occurs depend on the type of meat and the time they’ve spent in the freezer.
The USDA provides a shortlist of the expected effects freezing has on different types of meat. For example, if the sausages contain beef, they will turn grey after a certain time.
On the other hand, if they contain poultry, the meat should not change in color.
Additionally, if the sausages have a greyish color, it could indicate that they’ve spent an exceedingly long time in the freezer.
Even though freezing food is the best way to preserve it, the longer you keep it in the freezer, the more taste it will lose as time goes by.
They’re at their best quality for about two months in the freezer. After a couple of months, they’ll still be safe to eat; they just won’t taste as good.
You don’t see grey frozen sausages too often because the meat industry mixes preservatives, like sodium nitrite, into the meat.
Sodium nitrate is curing salt and is a common ingredient used for color preservation in meat. The reason sodium nitrate is added in the first place is to enhance visual appeal.
Many people prefer sausages that have a pink, reddish color to brown and dark-colored sausages.
Meat that hasn’t gone through excessive processing and is of high quality can become grey, too. It doesn’t mean that it has gone bad. As mentioned before, it may simply mean that it’s spent too long in the freezer.
What Does It Mean if My Sausage Turned Grey in the Freezer?
Sausages turn grey because of oxidation. The oxygen-delivering protein, called myoglobin, found in meat sausages, gives them their red color.
However, when exposed to air for long enough, the pigment of the meat can turn from an appealing red to a dull greyish brown.
One of the reasons why some of your sausages may be slightly grey before placing them in the freezer could be due to oxidation during the packing process.
If you notice that the sausage is greyer near the edges of the packaging instead of the middle part, you’ll know that it is becoming grey due to oxidation.
Oxidation is a natural process that happens to various types of food, but it doesn’t make the food bad. For example, when you leave your apple on the kitchen counter, you will notice that it has become browner after a few minutes. However, it’s still edible. The same applies to sausages.
It’s best to place your sausages in the freezer as soon as possible to preserve their taste and quality. While grey is a common color for oxidized sausages, it can also turn brown for the same reason.
Can Sausage Go Bad in the Freezer?
According to the USDA, no matter what type of food you put in your freezer, it can stay there indefinitely. Therefore, your sausages can’t go bad in the freezer.
Furthermore, if the temperature is 0° continuously, it should remain perfectly edible no matter how prolonged its stay.
To safely store sausages in the freezer, keep them wrapped in butcher paper or a plastic zipper-lock bag. You can also use freezer paper, plastic wrap, or airtight heavy-duty aluminum foil to store your sausages in the freezer.
If you plan to place an unopened package of uncooked sausages, keep them in the original packaging and only open it when you want to cook some.
When you decide to cook your frozen sausages, first place them in the fridge for about 24 hours. Doing so will allow them to thaw properly while exposing them to the cool air.
While it’s safe to place raw sausages in the freezer and leave them there for a while, it’s not the same for cooked sausages. Cooked sausages should stay in your freezer for three months at the most.
How Can You Tell if Frozen Sausage Is Bad?
If you place your sausages in the freezer, they rarely go bad. However, certain scenarios can shorten a frozen sausage’s freezer life.
For example, if you constantly move your sausages from the freezer to the fridge to room temperature and vice versa, the constant temperature change can cause them to go bad.
Check out my complete guide on how to tell if frozen sausage has gone bad for more information.
Proper Sausage Storage Is the Key to Prolonging Its Edibility
Raw sausages shouldn’t sit at room temperature for too long. Instead, you should put them in the fridge if you don’t plan on cooking them any time soon.
Also, always check the expiration date on the packaging. If your sausages have gone bad in the fridge, you will be able to notice the pungent smell they produce.
Aside from the odor, you can also tell if your sausage has gone bad if it has a slimy texture. However, sausages can go bad without showing any clear signs. That’s why it’s essential to always keep them in the fridge or the freezer.
Just because your sausage turned grey in the freezer does not necessarily mean that it has gone bad.
While discoloration is usually a negative sign when it comes to other food, grey-colored sausages are frequently a sign of oxidation.
As a result, you can keep your sausages in the freezer indefinitely without having to worry about them spoiling.