Cold Storage for Meat at Farmers’ Markets

The following is some shared wisdom by Hanne Tierney, of Cornerstone Farm and former MFFM Board member, on the best practices to keep meat frozen at market.

  1. Buy the most expensive cooler you can afford.
  2. Add additional insulation to all sides of cooler ( like a tinfoil bubble wrap that people buy to insulate hot water heaters) make sure to include the bottom heat rises cold sinks (don’t let it out the bottom of the cooler).
  3. Pack your meat as tightly and as well organized as possible so the farmer can quickly access desired meat and minimize time that the coolers are open. 
  4. Never use ice packs or literal ice as the freezing temp of these is dramatically higher than your meat and will actually cause your meat to thaw.
  5. If possible pack your meat cooler the night before and lower them into a freezer or place in a walk in freezer so there isn’t any warming during the packing process.
  6. Have a memorized description of your meat, how thick approximate units per package, approximate leanness to minimize the frequency you need to remove and replace meat to and from cooler. 
  7. Do not place coolers on pavement as this will warm the bottom of your cooler during the heat of the season.
  8. When consolidating meat, do it only once per market to ensure minimal heating of product and then add the additional insulation from now empty cooler to fill any extra space.