How to Properly Store and Thaw Frozen Beef

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A big part of your monthly grocery budget goes to the purchase of meat, therefore it is imperative to know how to properly store and thaw frozen beef properly and safely. Below I‘m sharing tips and tricks I have learned to make the most of your beef purchases.

This post is sponsored by The Beef Checkoff.  As always, all opinions are my own.

No one likes to waste money, but unfortunately, Americans waste up to 31% of our total food purchases each year. That translates to billions of dollars a year. So what can you do? Lots.

I am going to share with you the best way to handle, store, thaw and cook your beef to help you:

  • Save Money: Following these steps will save you money.
  • Save Time: If you have the ingredients on hand it will save you time.
  • Stay Safe: It is important to handle meat correctly for the safety of your family.

What You Need to Get Started

Supplies:

Beef being sealed using a vacuum sealer.

How to Handle Beef – Step by Step

  • Purchase Last: Make the meat cases your last stop at the market, keep packaged meats away from other groceries.
  • Sealed and Dated: When you purchase beef, inspect the package to make sure that it is sealed properly and that it is dated on or before the sell by date.
  • Bagging: Package beef in separate bags from your other groceries and utilize cooler bags if possible.
  • Preparation: When you bring your beef home, make sure that it is refrigerated immediately, if not preparing for that day or the next, freeze beef properly until ready to use.

How to Properly Store Beef

  • Store you beef in the fridge in the coldest part, which is usually the lower back shelves. It will be good for a day or two but no longer.
  • If not using right away, freeze your beef.
  • Separate: It is important to avoid cross contamination, use separate cutting boards, knives, etc and make sure that you clean properly with hot soapy water.
  • Air is the enemy. So if the original package is damaged, discard and rewrap in foil or place in an airtight bag or container.

Common Questions About Beef

HOW DO I STORE BEEF IN THE FREEZER?

There are several ways to store your beef for long term. For example:
> Double wrap, you beef in parchment, freezer paper or plastic wrap and then wrap in foil, this will protect it from the air, which is the enemy.
>Food Sealers: A vacuum sealer has really come down in price and are a wonderful way to freeze beef.

WHAT IS FREEZER BURN? IS IT SAFE TO EAT?

If meat gets freezer burn, it loses moisture from its surface and takes on a gray, brown, or gray-brown color. This will affect the color, texture and taste of the meat. Meat and other foods with freezer burn are still safe to eat. Freezer burn draws out moisture and flavor. This affects the quality, but is still safe to eat.

HOW TO PROPERLY DEFROST BEEF?

The best and safest way to defrost meat is overnight in the refrigerator, this keeps it safe from bacteria. You can also use the microwave or a cool water bath. Never, allow your beef to sit out on the counter to defrost.

CAN YOU COOK FROZEN GROUND BEEF?

A great way to cook beef from its frozen state is by using an instant pot, find out how here.

WHAT TEMPERATURE SHOULD BE BEEF COOKED TO?

Ground beef should be cooked to 160 degrees, to find out more beef temperatures, check out the Beef it’s What’s for Dinner page here.

Thawed frozen beef packets on a counter top.

Expert Tips

  • Invest: The proper tools are key, invest in a good meat thermometer to insure that your beef is done at the correct temperature. They are not that expensive and can be a real lifesaver.
  • Planning: It takes about 24 hours to thaw a pound of ground beef in the refrigerator, so plan ahead to use this method.
  • Date: If you are going to freeze your beef, make sure that you mark and date it, freezer tape and a sharpie will allow you to know what is wrapped inside and when it was frozen.
  • Flatten: Feel free to flatten the ground beef before storing in the freezer, this allows for a nice flat stackable storage solution.
  • Choosing beef: Select beef with a bright red color, that is firm to the touch and without excess liquid.

BEEF RECIPES TO TRY

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