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Oct 6, 2012 03:38 PM

Is It a Sin to Freeze Beef?

I frequently hear references to the idea that meat (especially beef) should NEVER be frozen. I hear this both from high-end TV chefs and on TV commercials for national chain restaurants. I grew up eating prime beef hindquarters that my family would purchase and freeze. I own a freezer now and often freeze meat when I find something that is special or just a great bargain.

What negative impact, if any, is freezing supposed to have on meat?

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  1. The only negative impact for me is if the beef is not wrapped carefully and it gets freezer burnt. My parents bought all their beef on sale, stocked up, froze it and cooked it often, no damage was done. And I wish I could have one of those great roast beef dinners with yorkshire pudding that my Mom would make with that roast from the freezer.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Ruthie789

      I bet you also remember when beef had both fat and taste.

      1. re: sandylc

        Yes, in fact I think some marbling in meat is good. My mom used the fat for the Yorshire pudding. It is much maligned these days. We had roast beef almost every Sunday for years and years. I eat beef once a week I think this is reasonable.

      2. re: Ruthie789

        vacuumed sealed there is little chance of freezer burn and it would be hard to tell the difference between fresh and frozen. I'm not sure I could tell the difference.

        1. re: scubadoo97

          Agreed. The biggest factor is exactly how the beef is frozen. Vacuum packed and frozen very quickly to very low temperature, there is minimal effect on the meat. Loosely wrapped and frozen slowly (or frozen only marginally) and you run several risks - freezer burn, off smells and flavors, the formation of large ice crystals that perforate meat cells and lead to losing more juice resulting in a poor texture.

          Meat that has been frozen badly is easy to tell apart from meat that has never been frozen. Meat that has been frozen well can be very difficult to tell from never-frozen meat.

      3. I don't freeze beef, chicken or lamb unless it is for stock. I find the texture is better with fresh, it isn't watery and there is no risk of freezer burn which means I never have to throw out meat I paid good money for.

        3 Replies
        1. re: escondido123

          If you pack it with tender loving care there will not be freezer burn.

          1. re: Ruthie789

            Yes, but if you don't freeze it at all you can be sure there will be no freezer burn.

            1. re: escondido123

              In an ideal cooking situation fresh is always better and if that works for you so be it. For others a little wiggle room is fine as well, as others have said as well, freezing is fine as long as the meat is well wrapped. I buy produce on sale, and yes do bring home to freeze.

        2. In my uneducated opinion, freezing meat is a 1-point deduct on a 10 scale. But sometimes that is the best that circumstances allow. In contrast, some fish lose 3 points from freezing, cooked lobster meat loses 5.


          9 Replies
          1. re: Veggo

            All fish bought commercailly in the Unites States has been frozen.

            1. re: jpc8015

              No, not all fish. But some is... and frozen-at-sea may be better than unfrozen bought days after being caught. An interesting article:

              1. re: drongo

                Yep. A lot is, but, certainly not "[a]ll fish bought commercially . . . has been frozen." Recently,* I have purchased monkfish tails, fluke, and whole blackfish that were never frozen. When there is a commercial fleet less than a mile from your house, there is a lot of "never frozen" fish available.

                Moreover, there are also quite a few Asian markets around the Nation - H-Mart, for example - where you can have them take the still swimming fish from the tank. Clearly, they have never been frozen. At bottom, sweeping generalizations, especially when demonstrably wrong, are particularly not advisable.

                *By "recently" I mean the last week or so.

              2. re: jpc8015

                Most, but not all - Copper River salmon for example, and in Florida I get fresh, fresh of many types. For the reason you cite I plan many trips with the deliberate purpose of eating fresh, fresh seafood, as I recently did and often do in the Caribbean. There is no other way to score 100%, and it is just dreamy deliciousness when it comes together. Not everything can be delivered to your door, or your town or city. Part of my personal creed, with inspiration and reinforecement from CH, is ....go get it, wherever it is.

                1. re: jpc8015

                  That's true where I live, and I would say all fish I've ever paid for was at least three points below any fish I've eaten on a fishing trip.

                  1. re: jpc8015

                    That's just not so. Go to the market in Seattle and they'll be happy to throw a fresh caught salmon at you. There are fresh unfrozen fish available everywhere in the US and Canada.

                      1. re: jpc8015

                        Even the ones swimming around in the tank? They made an amazing recovery from being frozen :o

                    1. The original comment has been removed
                      1. There are certain cuts I don't mind freezing, like skirt, top round, etc.

                        But for things like ribeye, strip or a filet, I try to eat them as soon as I get them from the butcher, unless I plan on dry-aging them.

                        8 Replies
                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Same here, I have a stock of roasts in the freezer, but steaks are bought the day they are eaten, or the day before. In fact, I spent the last week eating Italian beef sandwiches that I made from a roast that I had kept in the freezer. They were so enjoyable that I'm seriously thinking about taking another roast out to do a second batch.

                            I find that as long as I wrap things carefully, and store them in my upright freezer (seems to keep a more stable temp than the freezer on the refrigerator), then I don't have any problems with freezer burn. And of course, date the packages in large print - first in, first out.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              I spent 20 minutes today explaining to a customer of mine why he shouldn't "dry age" his own meat. Please don't do that. You aren't improving the cut and you are risking food born illness.

                              1. Been doing it for years, and will be continuing to do so for years from here on out.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Same here. If done right, there is no potential harm.

                                  1. re: The Professor

                                    Same here. If done right, there is no potential harm.

                                    This is true for food preparation (e.g. cooking, baking, brining, BBQing, etc.) in general.

                                    1. re: The Professor

                                      You are correct. "Done right" are the key words.

                                      "Done right" requires an intact primal with a full fat covering (there is a reason you don't see dry aged filet mignon), and an constant and unchanging temperature and humidity. Most professionals (myself included) don't have the proper facilities in our commercial setups to do this. It is very much like a cigar humidor.

                                      If "dry aging" was simply allowing a cut, fabricated piece of meat to get old and brown I would lose a lot less product than I do.

                                      Most home "aged" beef is simply exposing the cut surface of the meat to the inconsistent environment of of a household fridge. A fridge that very likely has many unexpected opportunities for cross contamination. Most DIY "dry aging" is akin to trying to make prosciutto out of a pork chop; Great motivation, improper execution.

                                    2. re: ipsedixit

                                      AND ME

                                      We eat our own beef and I have no problem with home dry ageing or freezing any properly wrapped cut in a cold enough freezer. -10* to -17*f