Corned beef gets its name from its original method of preparation. In the 17th century, people used to preserve their meat using salt crystals that were the size of corn kernels, hence the name.
Today, corned beef is prepared using a salt brine and spices instead of “corn” salt. It makes a savory sandwich filling and pairs great with a side of hash.
But despite the curing process, it goes through, corned beef doesn’t last very long compared to other cured meats. In fact, uncooked corned beef can only last for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.
If you’re trying to stock up on your cured meats, 3 to 4 days is obviously not good enough. So, can you freeze corned beef?
The good news is yes, you can freeze corned beef for up to 1 to 3 months! However, since the beef is still technically raw, there are some important tips to keep in mind to prevent spoilage.
Let’s find out more.
Can You Freeze Corned Beef?
Yes, you can keep corned beef in the freezer for a few months. Cooked corned beef can last up to 2 to 3 months in the freezer, whereas uncooked corned beef will keep well for around 1-2 months.
Since cooked corned beef still contains a significant amount of moisture, the risk of spoilage is high in comparison to other cured meats (e.g. pepperoni). More than that, it doesn’t undergo drying like other preserved meats.
So, how do you go about freezing corned beef to make it last longer?
Here is the best method that we found:
How Do You Freeze Corned Beef?
There are two methods of freezing corned beef, depending on whether it’s cooked or not. First, let’s talk about how to freeze uncooked corned beef:
Freezing Uncooked Corned Beef
- First, you have to drain all the brine and other liquids away from the beef. Getting rid of the excess moisture will help extend its lifespan as well as prevent major texture changes.
- Unless you plan to use the whole slab, cut your beef into portions.
- Transfer the beef to freezer bags or airtight containers. If you are using bags, make sure to remove as much air as possible before sealing them.
- Label each bag with today’s date. Then, put them in the back of the freezer where it is coldest. Store it for 1 to 2 months.
Freezing Cooked Corned Beef
- Drain as many juices away from the beef as possible. If you have cooked your corned beef dry, skip this step.
- Separate your beef into portions, if needed. This will make it easier for you to thaw just the right amount of corned beef in the future.
- Put your beef into a freezer bag or airtight container. We highly suggest removing vegetables (if there are any), as they can cause faster spoilage.
- Label the container with today’s date then put it in your freezer. Store for 2 to 3 months.
As long as you follow these steps correctly, your corned beef should undergo minimal changes in flavor and texture while in the freezer.
For best results, however, we recommend freezing corned beef raw. In this way, the internal juices of the meat will remain intact and won’t be lost to another round of cooking.
Now that you know how to freeze corned beef correctly, you can always have stock of a hefty piece of protein in your freezer. So, what next?
How Do You Thaw Frozen Corned Beef?
For both uncooked and cooked corned beef, the best way to thaw is to put it in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 24 hours (if you have frozen a whole slab).
We do not recommend thawing frozen corned beef in the microwave. Doing so can dry the meat out and make it tough.
After you defrost your corned beef, use it within two days for optimum texture. Never refreeze corned beef that has already been thawed; bacterial growth may have already set in.
For cooked corned beef, you can reheat it in the microwave or stove after it has been thawed completely.
Important Tip: Make sure that the internal temperature of the meat has reached at least 145°F to ensure that your corned beef is safe to eat. (*)
1. How Do You Cook Corned Beef?
After you thaw uncooked corned beef, it’s best to cook it as soon as possible.
To cook your corned beef, put it in a container with an inch of water, fat-side up. Cover the container and cook it at 350 degrees (1 hour per 1 pound).
You can also cook it on the stovetop by bringing the water to a boil and then simmering the beef for 1 hour per pound. Alternatively, you can use a slow cooker (10 to 12 hours is the best cooking time).
2. Why Is Corned Beef Pink?
Corned beef may appear pink in the middle even after it has been cooked. However, this doesn’t mean it is still raw.
Today’s curing process involves sodium nitrite, which makes meat pink. So, your corned beef is not raw, it’s just the pigment from sodium nitrite. (*)
3. Can You Freeze Dishes With Corned Beef?
Yes, you can freeze corned beef hash, corned beef with cabbage, and other dishes with corned beef. However, its lifespan will become indefinite due to the different ingredients present.
To be safe, check your cooked dishes for signs of spoilage before you eat them. If foul odors, weird tastes, or discoloration is present, better to toss the whole thing than risk getting sick.
Can you freeze corned beef? Yes! And as you can see, corned beef holds up surprisingly well in the freezer.
However, there are still a lot of risks to avoid. To make sure your corned beef is frozen properly, drain as much liquid as possible; use an airtight container, and store it a the very back of your freezer where the temperature is lowest.
And that’s all you need to know! For more informative guides like this, visit our blog where you can find more articles on food, nutrition, cooking, drinking and so much more!