Steak is a much-loved dish that can be served in many excellent ways. Its rich flavor, texture, and juicy tenderness make it a favorite for any occasion. But if you have leftovers or want to stock up on steak to save time and money, how long does steak last in the freezer?
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the answer to this question and provide some tips on how to freeze steak best.
While you can store steak in the fridge, there will be times when you need to freeze it. The key to freezing steak is to do it properly so that the quality of the meat is maintained. However, certain factors, such as whether you’re freezing raw or cooked steak, can affect how long it will last in the freezer.
How Long Does Raw Steak Last in The Freezer?
Whether you got an awesome deal at the grocery store or have reared your own steak, one of the easiest ways to ensure you don’t waste any is to freeze it.
So long as your freezer is kept at a constant temperature of 0°F (minus 18°C), your steak can last between 4-12 months in the freezer as per USDA guidelines. If your steak is minced, then ground beef should be frozen for just 3-4 months to ensure food safety. It is also a good idea to freeze your raw steak as soon as possible, as this will help keep it safe for consumption.
To ensure your raw meat freezes well, it is essential to prepare and wrap it correctly. Don’t worry; I have provided a breakdown of how to do just that below!
How Long Does Cooked Steak Last in The Freezer?
Cooked steak is slightly different, with the ideal time for freezing cooked steak being about 2-3 months if frozen properly. The same preparation techniques should be followed when storing cooked steak in the freezer.
The main difference between cooked and raw steak is that with leftovers, your steak can dry out, altering the texture of the meat. This is why the total length of the time cooked steak can last in the freezer is shorter than raw steak – to ensure you get the best results possible once defrosted. These guidelines also apply to meals that include steak, such as casseroles.
How to Prepare A Steak For Freezing
Regardless of if your freezing raw or cooked steak, you must take time to prep it properly. This doesn’t take long at all but can make all the difference.
- Cool it Down
You do not want to place hot or even warm food in a freezer. The higher temperature can cause other frozen food items to thaw, which can be a potential health hazard. Before you freeze, allow your steak to cool down thoroughly. You can place your steak on a plate and put it in the refrigerator to cool it down quicker.
- Divide Into Portions
You will find that your steak is easier to thaw if it is separated into portion sizes. If you have a pack of steaks, it’s a good idea to wrap the steaks individually. Alternatively, you can cut a steak into smaller portions if needed.
- Wrap Them Up Well
You can place an unopened steak straight in the freezer, still in the original packaging – unless it is only wrapped with a thin plastic film. You want to ensure whatever you wrap your steaks in for freezing does not allow as much air to pass through, as this can create freezer burn.
Freezer burn occurs when cold air dehydrates the surface of the meat, causing it to lose flavor and become dry. You will know if your steak has freezer burn as it will have a layer of ice crystals on it. To avoid this, wrap your steaks first in a layer of plastic wrap and then create a second layer over that with either heavy-duty aluminum foil, freezer paper, a plastic bag, or an airtight container.
While not every home cook will have a vacuum sealer, vacuum sealing is a great way to prep steak for freezing. Vacuum-sealed meat not only keeps out all of the air but also compresses and seals your steaks, preventing oxidation – a process where oxygen molecules react with fats in your steak, which can change its bright red color.
Of course, if you don’t have a vacuum sealer, wrapping your steak as instructed above is the next best thing!
- Label and Date
It is easy to forget when you have frozen your steak, so labeling and dating each steak will help you remember when to eat them by. For raw steak, include the sell-by date and the date frozen. This will help give you an idea of when it should be eaten by once defrosted.
When freezing cooked steak, you’ll want to include the date frozen and what dish the steak was from. This will help you avoid any confusion when you get your meal out of the freezer. For either raw or cooked steak, noting the amount of steak in each wrap and if it has any rubs, seasoning, or marinades will also be helpful.
How Do You Defrost Steak?
When you’re ready to enjoy your steak, defrosting it is easy! The safest way to thaw steak is to move it from the freezer to the refrigerator and let it sit for 12-24 hours until thawed. You want to avoid unnecessary bacterial growth, so defrosting in the fridge is a good choice for avoiding potential food poisoning!
When defrosting, it is a good idea to put your frozen steak on a plate or tray at the bottom of the fridge. Even though it is tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, a freezer bag, or similar, there is still a chance of any liquid or juices dripping off. Doing this will help to avoid contamination of other foods in the fridge with the uncooked meats.
However, there are two other defrosting methods that are USDA approved. If you’re in a pinch, submerging your frozen steak (wrapped in a plastic bag) into a bowl of cold water works well. You must change the water every 30 minutes, so your steak continues to thaw.
Alternatively, you can also thaw your steak in the microwave. You must then immediately cook your meat to ensure it stays out of the ‘danger zone’ – as some areas of the beef may begin cooking in the microwave. Do not leave your frozen steaks at room temperature to thaw, as this can welcome the growth of bacteria.
You can cook steak from frozen, but it can take longer and may cook unevenly. So, if you have the time – always defrost thoroughly before cooking!
How Long Does Thawed Steak Last For?
Your defrosted steak is good for 3-5 days when stored in the fridge (so long as the temperature is 40°F/ 4°C or less). Pay attention to the expiry date of your frozen raw meat, which is why it is a good idea to include this information during the labeling process.
For example, if you freeze your steak 2 days before expiring, it is likely best to eat it within 1-2 days of defrosting.
Can You Refreeze Steak?
If you thaw a raw steak and then decide you no longer want to use it, you can place it back in the freezer – so long as it was thawed in the refrigerator and has not been more than 3-4 days. You can also refreeze steak that has been previously frozen if you have cooked it first. This is a brilliant way to make sure that nothing goes to waste!
Can Steak Go Bad While in The Freezer?
If your steak has not been stored properly or has been in the freezer for longer than recommended – it can go bad. Yes, even in the freezer! If your steak has been stored correctly and used within the advised timeframe, then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
If you are unsure, use your sense of smell to help determine whether you have spoiled steak. If your steak smells like ammonia or eggs – discard it and start afresh. The same goes for a slimy texture; this is a sign that it has gone bad, and no one wants to eat slimy steak anyway!
Now you are all clued up on freezing and defrosting steak, why not get creative and make some delicious meals with it? Enjoy your yummy steak dinners – and remember to label, date, and store your frozen steaks correctly.
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