can you freeze ground beef after cooking

Once the meat has been fully cooked, it can be refrozen. Transfer the cooked meat to an airtight, freezer-safe container or bag, and label and date before freezing. Plan to use the meat within two to three months for the best quality.

While the financial news of the day has us scratching our collective heads in confusion, theres one sound bit of financial advice you can count on: Buying ground beef in bulk and freezing some of it for later is a great way to save money. When following this great money-saving habit, its important to consider how much room you have in your freezer and how much youre saving by buying a larger pack. If youre crowding out your fridge to save a couple of bucks, you may want to stick to smaller portions.

When considering buying in bulk, its also important to remember that it can be good for the environment. If more people bought food in bulk, it would significantly reduce the need for landfill space (via NPR). On top of that, bulk buyers take fewer trips to the supermarket, which can mean lower carbon emissions.

If youre going to freeze ground beef, you should be aware of some of the more common mistakes that people make. There are also a few common missteps when it comes to storage, thawing, and cooking of frozen beef.

Three Safe Ways to Thaw Ground Beef

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recognizes three safe methods of thawing for frozen foods. The best way to safely thaw ground beef is in the refrigerator. It is essential to keep meat (any meat, not just ground beef) cold while it is defrosting to prevent the growth of bacteria. Cook or refreeze ground beef within one to three days.

If you are pressed for time, you can defrost in the microwave or in cold water. When using the microwave, cook the ground beef immediately because some areas may begin to cook during the defrosting. To thaw frozen meat in cold water, put the meat in a watertight plastic bag and submerge, changing the water every 30 minutes. Cook immediately. Never refreeze raw ground meat thawed in cold water or in the microwave oven unless you cook it first.

How To Refreeze Thawed Ground Beef

According to the USDAs Food Safety and Inspection Service, if you thawed your ground beef in the refrigerator and it has only been in there for a short time (three days or less), its perfectly OK to refreeze it. Keep the meat in the original packaging, but wrap it once more in aluminum foil or a freezer-safe plastic bag. Keep in mind that when you freeze, thaw, refreeze, then thaw again, the meat loses moisture at each step and you might find that the texture changes. Reserve this meat for soups and weeknight casseroles, where texture isnt as important as it is in other dishes, such as a grilled burger.

Thawing raw ground beef for several hours at room temperature

The recommended method for thawing raw meat is to allow it to slowly defrost in the refrigerator over the course of 24 hours. You should also place your defrosting meat on a large sheet pan or plate that can catch any potential leaks of raw meat juices. This plate or pan should then be placed at the bottom of the refrigerator in case it happens to overflow.

While this process is largely foolproof, sometimes we forget to pull frozen meat out of the freezer one day in advance. In these situations, it may be tempting just skip the recommended method and completely defrost frozen ground beef at room temperature. However, this is one of the biggest mistakes people make when defrosting meat. A refrigerator keeps defrosting meat outside the dangerous temperature zone that facilitates bacterial growth, which ranges from 40 F to 140 F. According to the National Agriculture Library, it is safe to jump-start your defrost at room temperature, but you should only do so for less than two hours. After two hours, you should move your defrosting meat to the refrigerator to complete the process.

Once the meat has been fully cooked, it can be refrozen. Transfer the cooked meat to an airtight, freezer-safe container or bag, and label and date before freezing. Plan to use the meat within two to three months for the best quality.

FAQ

Can you refreeze ground beef that has been cooked?

If the meat is already cooked, you will lose a lot of the texture and flavor if you thaw and refreeze it again, so we do not recommend refreezing cooked meat. You should also not freeze (or refreeze) any meats that have been sitting at room temperature for longer than 2 hours or at a 90˚ or higher for more than 1 hour.

Can you freeze cooked ground beef twice?

It’s generally not recommended to freeze and thaw ground beef multiple times, as it can increase the risk of bacterial contamination and spoilage. Each time meat is thawed and refrozen, it can lose moisture and quality, and the potential for bacteria to grow increases.

Can you freeze beef after cooking?

This results in discolouration of the meat, such as brown spots on your beef. The meat is still perfectly edible, but it can affect the taste, so you may want to trim off any affected areas. It’s fine to freeze cooked meat, including meat leftovers and meals cooked from previously frozen meat.

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