Freezing food is a great way to cut down on waste, or just to preserve unused portions for later. Compared to other methods of preservation it doesn’t get much simpler than freezing, but nonetheless some foods don’t freeze very well, and even those that do usually require a proper preparation for both safety and quality.
All kinds of meats can be frozen, but every kind of meat also takes a little know-how if you’re going to freeze it correctly. How about beef brisket? Can you freeze brisket?
Yes, you can freeze brisket whether it is raw or cooked. Raw brisket will keep up to a year, but cooked brisket will keep several months assuming proper handling and packaging.
There’s hardly anything more delicious than slow smoked beef brisket, and the process takes so long it is very common for people to buy or make too much of it.
Freezing it can save you a bundle of money, and ensure you have some choice cuts on hand the next time you are craving it.
Keep reading and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about freezing brisket.
Nutritional Value of Brisket
Beef brisket, like other cuts of beef, is very high in protein, and relatively high in fat.
A 3 1/2 ounce serving contains about 250 calories, 24 grams of protein, 16 grams of fat- 6.2 grams of which are saturated- about 90 milligrams of cholesterol and 41 milligrams of sodium.
The micronutrient profile is somewhat lacking, with only iron and potassium being present in abundance along with a little bit of calcium.
But what high-quality and delicious protein it is! Beef is now, as always, a very popular meat, and you can do a lot worse than brisket so long as it is prepared properly.
Freezing Your Brisket
If you’re going to freeze brisket, your first choice is whether or not you are going to freeze it while it is raw or after it has been cooked, one way or the other.
Both are viable, but only freezing it while it is raw will yield a tremendous shelf life of up to one year.
Consulting the National Center for Home Food Preservation guidelines, freezer paper is recommended for wrapping raw cuts of meat, brisket included, though aluminum foil or heavy-duty freezer bags can be used if most of the air can be excluded.
Once properly wrapped or packaged, the meat should be frozen as quickly as possible with the freezer temperature as close to 0 °F (-17 °C) as achievable.
If cooked, the brisket can be packaged the same way and frozen after it has cooled down.
Make sure to check out the link above for detailed instructions on prepping, handling and packaging brisket prior to freezing. You won’t regret it, and their guidelines are time tested and proven for maximum food safety and longevity.
Can You Freeze Brisket When Raw?
Yes, brisket can be frozen raw, and this is the best way to ensure maximum shelf life from it while in storage.
Can You Freeze Brisket When Cooked?
Yes. Cooked brisket, be it smoked, roasted, grilled or otherwise can also be safely and successfully frozen after it has cooled down, assuming that it is properly packaged.
Remember: never, ever try to freeze cooked brisket that’s still warm! This will lead to huge problems with moisture that will ruin it.
How Long Does Brisket Take to Freeze?
The amount of time that it will take brisket to freeze is largely dependent on the size of the cut.
The NCHFP recommends that you have no more than three or four pounds of beef, of any cut, per square foot of freezer space.
Assuming this is so, depending on the temperature of the freezer, your brisket will freeze solid in about 4 hours, perhaps longer.
How Long Will My Brisket Keep When Frozen?
How long your brisket will keep while it is frozen is dependent on whether it is cooked or raw.
Cooked brisket will last anywhere from 3 to 4 months, while raw brisket will last up to a year while frozen according to the foodsafety.gov website.
It should also be pointed out that brisket is among the longest lasting meats for freezer storage, beef, chicken, lamb, or anything else. If you want to store a lot of meat long term, brisket is probably going to be on the menu!
Will Brisket Get Freezer Burned?
Yes, brisket can get freezer burned both when it is raw and when it is cooked.
Once again, careful attention to handling, preparation and packaging can minimize the chances of freezer burn and also reduce the severity should it occur. See the next section.
What’s the Best Way to Prevent Freezer Burn?
The best way to prevent freezer burn of your brisket is to eliminate as much air space as possible in the packaging.
If you are using freezer paper, aluminum foil or similar sheet style wrapping then employing a proper butcher or drugstore wrap is important.
If you are using a plastic bag, make sure you squeeze out all of the excess air before sealing it. If you have a vacuum sealer appliance, you’ll definitely want to use it.
Also, make sure you keep your freezer set as cold as it can go, and ideally the temperature should stay right around 0 °F (71 °C).
Colder temperatures help to prevent freezer burn, and to that end you’ll also want to avoid opening the freezer as much as possible since that lets warm, moist air in.
When you do open the freezer, know what you are looking for, grab it and then shut it again as quickly as possible.
By following these simple steps you’ll minimize the impact of freezer burn on your delicious brisket.
How Can You Tell When Brisket is No Longer Good?
If you take your brisket out of the freezer and thaw it only to notice that it has a distinctly unpleasant sour, tangy or foul odor, don’t eat it.
Keep in mind that freezing does not sterilize your meat, freezing only slows or halts the processes of microorganisms that are already present and working on it.
Similarly, if your brisket appears discolored, slimy or has any other odd appearance, don’t trust it. Be safe and trash it.
Can You Refreeze Brisket Safely?
It is possible to refreeze your brisket, raw or cooked, but I’d advise against this. Simply put, the quality of the meat goes way, way down after being refrozen.
The next time you bring it out, it will probably be a mushy, nasty mess and even though it could still be safe to eat it is going to be very unpleasant.
What is the Best Way to Defrost Brisket?
The best and pretty much only two ways to safely defrost brisket are in the fridge or the microwave.
The problem with using your microwave for the purpose is the same old problem that microwaves have with anything: uneven heating leads to some parts of the meat being thawed before others are even defrosted, and then those parts will start to cook while others are still frozen.
This can lead to a wonky finished produce when you go to finish cooking it.
Putting your brisket in the refrigerator to thaw slowly at a relatively higher temperature compared to the freezer also totally works, but takes much longer and, depending on the size of the cut, perhaps as long as two days, maybe more.
Whatever the case, keep an eye on it using both methods and be ready to cook it when it is thawed.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.
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