Is it OK to Freeze Marinated Meat ?
I marinated some short ribs overnight, but only used about half of them. Is it ok to freeze the rest, and, if so, should the meat be drained first, or left in the marinade? The marinade consists of soy sauce, garlic, ginger, green onions, mirin, sesame oil and rice vinegar.
By the way, I got this recipe from Epicurious, and it is great served over spinach. I can post a link for anyone interested.
"It is not recommended to freeze meat that has been previously frozen and thawed."
I think this deserves a little more commentary, so there isn't any confusion.
There are two reasons one might worry about refreezing meat. First, the meat tends to dry out each time it is frozen and then defrosted. Second, if the meat is defrosted and goes above 40 degrees (F), bacteria can begin to develop and spread. Freezing the meat will not kill all of the bacteria. If, however, the meat is defrosted and kept under 40 degrees (for example, if it was refrigerated), contamination is not an issue.
So, like hungryann said, if the meat wasn't previously frozen, go ahead and refreeze it.
If it was previously frozen .... I wouldn't worry about short ribs drying out, the first concern. Second, if the meat was marinated in the fridge, I wouldn't worry about refreezing it.
You can definitely refreeze it in the marinade. As it defrosts, it will continue to marinate. Defrost in the refrigerator.
In addition to those reasons, I think another reason not to refreeze previously frozen meat is that it really starts to screw with the texture. things start to get really mushy. Probably has to do with water crystals, when frozen again, playing havoc with the cell structure of the meat. Kind of like when you freeze then thaw a strawberry. Just not so much. That said, I'm not sure why that doesn't happen more when you freeze it the first time...
Correct. The process you described contributed to the change in texture and the moisture loss you described. For some dishes, this isn't that big of a deal (such as braised short ribs), while others it would be (such as steak).
I think it does happen to some degree when you freeze it the first time, it just isn't enough to notice that much. Each time you refreeze it, it happens a little more.
After my sister had her second baby, I spend a week with her to stock up her fridge. Her husband is a true carnivore, got a lot of chicken, pork and beef, portioned the meat for meals for 2, put them in ziptop bags with marinade, squeezed out as much air as possible and froze them. The meals lasted her for at least 6 weeks. I started with fresh meat, not previously frozen.
Two tips to pass on from that experience:
1) If possible, lay plastic bag flat on a sheetpan in the freezer until it is completely frozen. Then, remove sheetpan and stack with other bags in a flat tupperware container (no lid necessary. This helps keep things organized, and keeps the bags from breaking if they are bumped around.
2) When you thaw the meat, make sure you put it in a glass or plastic bowl in the fridge. Sometimes the bags get little holes in them, so if you just set it in the fridge you may wake up to marinade and raw juices all over the shelves!
So go ahead and freeze your short ribs, TerriL. When you thaw them make sure you cook them the same day, or they may overmarinate.
I "part out" chickens all the time when they go on sale. I portion them out; rub, or marinate in liquid, and freeze in slide-lock bags. While they defrost, they marinate. I usually do jerk, teriyaki, chipotle/raspberry, and honey dijon. Works well with boneless pork sirloin strips as well. That way I have a wide choice when taking out the night's dinner before heading off to work for the day.
Meat frozen with a salty marinade might actually have less damage from freezing than unmarinated meat due to salt's freezing point depression capabilities. Salt will prevent less water from freezing/expanding. That, in turn, should result in less damage to the protein framework.