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Sep 14, 2011 08:09 AM

Why is fresh beef better than frozen?

It has always been a big no no to freeze beef because it destroys the quality of the beef...but how? Is there an actual taste difference? If so, what kind? What about other kinds of meats (chicken, pork, etc)? Tried finding the answer on google to no avail.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Depends on how it was frozen. If beef was well wrapped, frozen quickly using very low temperature, and held well, the difference in texture will be fairly minimal.

    On issue with freezing is freezer burn. This can be avoided by packaging the beef well. Vacuum sealing is preferred.

    Another issue is that freezing creates ice crystals. Large crystals that form when meat is frozen slowly, or partially thawed then refrozen, or repeatedly frozen, or held at not-quite-low-enough temperature - these crystals tear meat cells and lead to more fluid leaking out of meat when it cooks. The end result is a steak that is more prone to quick oxidation and less juicy than a steak that's never been frozen.

    1. It really depends on how its frozen. Freezing things in your home freezer degrades the quality of food because it takes a long time to freeze things which allows large ice crystals to grow and damage the flesh of whatever you are freezing. Flash freezing in an industrial freezer is a much faster process and minimizes the damage.

      1. Fast freezing can be done with any freezer that is sub-zero. Place your meat on a Silpat sheet on a pre-cooled aluminum cookie sheet and leave it in the freezer for 2 hours and then place it in a vacuum bag and seal. The cookie sheet will provide rapid temperature transfer, and the Silpat will keep the food from sticking and allow you to remove and bag it quickly. Do not use any other wrapping while freezing, it will only slow down the freezing process.

        2 Replies
        1. re: NVJims

          Cool tip. Thanks.

          Any reason to think parchment paper wouldn't work in lieu of a Silpat?

          1. re: cowboyardee

            You can try it, but it is more likely to stick to the meat.

        2. According to Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking, beef fat differs from the fat in pork, poultry, and seafood, in such a way that beef fat, unlike the others' fats, is slower to turn rancid while frozen. That's worth keeping in mind in meal planning, if you tend to keep a variety of frozen proteins on hand.