Bratwurst, the popular German sausage, only stays fresh for 2 to 3 days in its raw state. After it is cooked, it can keep for 5 days, but can be stored for up to 3 months in the freezer. This long freezer life makes it easy to prepare a large batch and keep extra ready for easy meals when needed. The freezing process is the same whether raw or precooked.
Allow bratwurst to cool to room temperature if cooked. You can place them in the refrigerator to speed up the process.
Arrange fresh or cooked bratwurst on a baking tray with a space between each piece. Set the tray in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours or until the bratwurst are partially frozen. Skip this step, if desired, but freezing them individually keeps them from sticking together so you can easily remove a single sausage from the freezer when needed.
Place the bratwurst in a freezer bag with at least 2 inches of head room between the top of the bratwurst and the bag's seal. Squeeze out the excess air and seal the bag closed. Place raw and cooked bratwurst in separate freezer bags.
Label each bag clearly with the contents and date they were packaged and the use-by date two to three months from the storage date. If using store-bought bratwurst, it helps to include the storage date as well as the use-by date on the original packaging so you know how long the bratwurst will last when thawed.
Arrange the bags of bratwurst against the freezer walls where they will freeze fastest. Move them to their designated storage spot after 24 hours or when the bratwurst is frozen solid.
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- National Center for Home Food Preservation: Refrigerator/ Freezer Approximate Storage Times
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: Safe Home Food Storage
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: Food Storage for Safety and Quality
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: Freezing Animal Products
- Instead of packaging all the bratwurst in a single bag, you can divide them into individual portions and bag them separately before placing them in a larger freezer bag. For example, freeze groups of three bratwursts in quart-sized freezer bags. You can label and freeze the quart-sized bags separately or place all of them inside a gallon-sized freezer bag.
- Packaged bratwurst can be left in the original packaging whether unopened or opened. The clear plastic wrap commonly used to package meats isn't moisture and vapor resistant, so you must insert the original package in a freezer bag.
- Never place hot, cooked bratwurst directly in the freezer because this can raise the temperature inside the freezer and put other frozen foods at risk.
A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.
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