Whether you purchase deli meats whole or pre-sliced, freezing helps extend their shelf life. Typically, deli meats only remain safe to eat for as little as five days once the package is open, or up to two weeks when refrigerated in an unopened package. You can quadruple that storage time by placing unused meats in the freezer. The cold temperatures prevent the growth of bacteria, and most deli meats retain much of their flavour and texture once thawed.
Repackage the deli meat if desired. Place a sheet of wax or parchment paper between each slice so that you can remove and use one slice at a time, leaving the rest stored in the freezer for a later date.
Wrap the deli meat packaging in a layer of heavy-duty cling film. Wrap a second layer of plastic around the meat, in the opposite direction, to make an airtight package. Alternately, place the meat in a freezer bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, then seal it closed.
Write the storage date and contents on the outside of the package. Place the package in the freezer. Store the meat for up to two months before using it.
Remove the deli meat from the freezer 24 hours before you plan to use it. Place it in the refrigerator and allow it to thaw. Single slices thaw in as little as one hour in the fridge.
Freezer burn is caused by air touching the food. Keep the deli meat wrapped tightly at all times during freezer storage.
Never thaw food at room temperature, as this can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria.