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Tips for freezing cooked 1" cubed beef (in liquid or not?), best container, etc.

I'll be cutting a chuck roast into 0.5" or 1" pieces, cooking in my pressure cooker, and FREEZING for future meals.

1. Will it work better if I freeze the cooked beef cubes in broth, or dry?

2. Should I freeze each 5oz portion in a ziplock bag (having squeezed out all the air), or in those cheap glad re-usable plastic food containers (plenty of air inside). BTW, are ziplock plastic bags as safe from a BPA or chemical leaching perspective? My Glad containers are BPA free.

3. When I tried freezing a beef stew, the potatoes got pretty mushy, but the beef was fine when microwaving from a frozen state. Any other tips for bulk cooking, freezing, thawing beef and/or beef stew?

Many thanks,

Caveman Mike

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  1. potatoes don't freeze well, as you've learned. no way to fix that, so freeze stew without them.

    as for the chuck, i prefer freezing that sort of thing in its coking liquid because it reheats better that way.

    i use ziploc bags with all the air squeezed out. too many other things are going to kill me, so frankly don't worry about the bpa in them.

    4 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      me, too -- in bags, in the liquid.

      (saves space in your freezer, too)

      No BPA in Glad freezer bags: http://www.glad.com/faq/

      No BPA in Ziploc bags, either:

      http://www.ziploc.com/Products/Pages/...

      1. re: sunshine842

        Thanks for the link! I'm really plastic / bpa phobic, so that's particularly helpful.

        Mike

        1. re: mike2401

          We've noticed.

          Manufacturer's websites are always a good resource -- especially on a topic like this. They know there are concerned people out there, so they want you to know

      2. re: hotoynoodle

        I happened to have some beef broth in the fridge, which I added to the freezer-burned beef (which helped it from being terrible)

         
      3. If you are planning on reheating in the same container you've frozen, avoid the bags. Whether or not they LEACH, they often LEAK at the corners or seal. If there's too much air space in your Glad container, press plastic wrap or wax paper onto the surface of the food before freezing. I agree that it's best to freeze the meat in the liquid.

        2 Replies
        1. re: greygarious

          Will it be hard to get the beef out of the plastic bag in a frozen state without thawing it first? (would it be easier if there is liquid vs. no-liquid)?

          thx
          Mike

          1. re: mike2401

            you can put the bag in a bowl of cold water for about an hour before cooking to soften the freeze.

        2. My first choice would be to vacuum seal the pieces of meat dry ( foodsaver)

          Second choice would be in beef broth in plastic freezer containers ( I like the Ball plastic freezer containers and they come in sizes up to a quart). But I can my broth so I don't bother freezing it.

          1. In bags (zipper or otherwise), with cooking liquid (taste it first!). Squeeze out the air. Ensure that the packages are no more than 1" thick. Omit Potatoes. :)
            I prefer bags as this helps to optimize freezer space. If you choose to use containers, to reduce your use of disposables... you might still want to put a layer of plastic wrap or parchment directly on top of the food.

            2 Replies
            1. re: KarenDW

              I'm an anti-plastic bigot so I like the idea of parchment on the top layer.

              What did you mean about reducing use of disposable containers?

              Can potatoes be frozen separately (not in liquid), or do they simply not freeze/thaw well?

              How 'bout rice?

              Thanks to everyone for commenting on this thread. This is enormously helpful!

              Mike

              1. re: mike2401

                rice freezes very well, potatoes do not.

            2. Spread cubes even on a cookie sheet/ metal pan that will fit Temporarily into your freezer. Set the timer for 90min/3h.

              When the time expires, transfer into whatever container you desire. You could even just go with butcher paper?

              Freezing meals-- I love Love LOVE OAMC.
              I'll start a thread...in Home Coking.

              16 Replies
              1. re: Kris in Beijing

                The IQF method you describe is fine for certain fruits and veg but with meat, whether cooked or raw, it just allows more air space in the bag or container where the chunks wind up. That means more, and maybe faster, freezer burn.

                1. re: greygarious

                  i do this for meatballs, but for other meats, i just portion in bags, to reduce air, yes.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    Sorry: What's "IQF" mean?

                    So, if air is the enemy, is that why adding liquid is a good thing?

                    Thanks,
                    Mike

                    1. re: mike2401

                      individual quick frozen.

                      ~~~

                      "So, if air is the enemy, is that why adding liquid is a good thing?"

                      ~~yes.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        Thanks! This makes all perfect sense to me now. There was a IQF meal that has started growing ice crystals inside the gladware container.

                        It sounds like adding liquid is cheaper & easier than buying a foodsaver vac pack machine and buying all that plastic.

                        Thx
                        Mike

                        1. re: mike2401

                          Here's some beef I did in the gladware (3 or 4 weeks ago).

                          I just added some broth and nuked it. Not terrible, but I suspect it could be better.

                          Thx
                          Mike

                           
                          1. re: mike2401

                            yes, you've got some pretty hardcore freezer burn going at the top of the picture, and all those ice crystals are moisture that was supposed to be in your meat. Not much doubt at all that it could have been better.

                            Even putting it in a freezer bag and squeezing out the air would have been better -- and the stock will help keep it from getting dried out.

                            Get a soda straw -- stick the straw into the bag, leaving most of the straw sticking out of the bag. Now zip the top of the bag, right up to the straw. Put the straw in your mouth and suck the air out of the bag, then pull the straw out and sip the bag in one quick motion -- yes this takes a time or two to perfect, but it's not difficult. Then you have bags with a minimum of air (and they take up a lot less space in your freezer than that Glad container did)

                    2. re: greygarious

                      Can you explain how IQF adds air?

                      Really, for me, this is the only way I can individually portion out bulk meat purchases with a minimum of raw meat handling/ raw meat at room temperature.

                      You are, then, suggesting that with, say, pork chops, I should add a layer of butcher paper between and freeze in an airfree-as-possible bag?
                      I'm trying to use as few Other things as possible-- butcher paper and bags all get expensive after a while.

                      1. re: Kris in Beijing

                        It's not a matter of adding air, really -- but it certainly is a matter of leaving an enormous amount of surface air exposed to the air of the freezer, which will absolutely, positively, dry out the top layer(s) of meat, and quite possibly leave with with nasty, freezerburned product (which isn't saving money, either)

                        I quick-freeze meatballs, because they do freeze very quickly - but then into an airtight bag as soon as they're frozen enough to not stick together in a huge mass.

                        Chicken breasts get wrapped in plastic wrap, then chucked into a big, heavy freezer bag.

                        Pork chops and similar get stacked with a layer of waxed paper in between.

                        Things like roasts get wrapped in plastic wrap, and then in a layer of heavy foil.

                        All the extra packaging has a price....but so does dried-out, freezer-burned, inedible food.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          I'm sorry, but I'm actually still confused.

                          In my original post, the idea was "open to the air in the freezer" IQF for 90m to 3hours, then "package."

                          Would that really increase the likelihood of freezer burn?

                          Your meatball description:
                          ~~an airtight bag as soon as they're frozen enough to not stick together in a huge mass~~
                          is pretty much what I do with everything.

                          1. re: Kris in Beijing

                            but meatballs have moisture added, by definition -- so there's a little more room for error. And mine are not frozen through -- they're literally just frozen enough to not clump together.

                            The more air reaches your meat, the more moisture evaporates, and the more chance you have of freezer burn.

                            To me, the pennies for a piece of cling wrap or waxed paper is nothing aside of losing $10 worth of meat.

                    3. re: Kris in Beijing

                      I had never heard the term OAMC before.

                      Thanks to the miracle of Mr. Google, I discovered that means: "Once a month cooking"

                      And, at this site, I also got an answer that I needed: egg whites don't freeze well:

                      http://www.realfood4realpeople.com/fr...

                      Thanks again everyone!

                      Mike

                      1. re: mike2401

                        Mike -- I did start an OAMC thread

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/896919

                        1. re: mike2401

                          Unless you mean beaten whites, egg whites DO freeze well. Yolks do not. They solidify and will not reliquefy when thawed. If you want to freeze BEATEN eggs, you should add a pinch of salt or sugar. Then, when thawed, they are fine for scrambling or baked goods.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            I have raw egg whites in my freezer (like 3 dozen because I've been eating only yolks lately, and can't bring myself to throw out the whites).

                            Will raw egg whites (after thawing) be good to use as if they were never frozen?

                            Thx
                            MIke

                            1. re: mike2401

                              Yes