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Looks like storing all that beef in the freezer is my best option. No problem!
Now, let’s do it the right way. After all I want all the flavor and juiciness to stay inside every cut, so helping you to prevent the freezer burn is my mission this time.
Let’s wrap on!
What Is Freezer Burn And How To Prevent It
How to tell if steak is freezer burnt? Well, let’s find out what it actually is on the first place.
Freezer burn is induced by moisture evaporating from frozen food (not just steak). Hence every time it’s not packed properly (i.e. air can reach the food surface), there is a chance of food getting ‘burned’, which is really simple dehydration.
Now that water is leaving our steak (at a very slow pace), oxygen molecules are free to substitute them (and happily do), this is why meat color is often altered – it turns greyish. This change can occur on the entire surface or on a single spot – below we’ll see if it’s safe to cook.
Now, how do we prevent it from happening?
- As already mentioned, packaging the food correctly is vital – see more below.
- Don’t store the steak for too long. Even though it can last for 12 months in the freezer (I tried), it’s not the same steak you put inside – there is a tiny bit of moisture left inside and the texture is weird too.
- Check that your freezer is working properly. Temperature fluctuations inside the compartment will set in freezer burn. That’s part of the reasons why refreezing is not recommended.
To sum it up quickly – how do I know if steak is freezer burnt? The packaging is no good (e.g. parchment paper); it’s been frozen for longer than 6 months; the freezer thermostat is not functioning properly.
How To Wrap Steak For Freezer?
Now that we have our freezer checked and are not going to freeze the steak for longer than 6 months, let’s reduce the chance of ‘the burn’ and wrap beef properly.
We are going to use the freezer bag combined with the famous ‘Drug Store’ wrapping technique.
Here is how it goes:
1. Put the steak in the freezer bag.
I am using a special food-safe resealable plastic bag, which can be used for home freezing.
Do your best to let all the air out. You can use a bowl with water and gently place the bag (with steak inside) right into it – that way all the air will escape and you can carefully seal the bag.
Remember, the more air you leave inside, the greater is the chance of freezer burn.
2. Use freezer paper to keep the air out.
Technically this is not necessary, because the resealable bag should keep the air from getting inside. However plastic is porous and the seal is also not the guarantee. This is why I suggest to use the second layer of freezer paper (a.k.a. butcher paper). You will also need this paper if you are going to refrigerate the steak after you opened it.
Tin foil, which I am using here, is not the right choice, if you are not using the freezer bag too. When it gets in touch with meat surface, it might pass the metal flavor on to your steak, so it can taste rusty. No bueno. (It’s ok as a second layer though).
3. Connect the sides and roll them down.
Start wrapping the steak as if you were rolling up a paper bag (just like they do in fast food restaurants).
4. Roll and squeeze the air out.
Make sure that as much air as possible will escape our steak wrap. It’s especially important, if you are not using the freezer bag (since we already pushed all the air out of it).
5. Connect the corners and turn upside down.
Simply wrap the corners inside (I made the fancy triangles) and, if necessary, write down the date, so that you know how long you have been freezing the steak for.
Don’t forget to put it in the freezer – now it has much lower chances of getting the freezer burn.
And what if it happened?! Read on!
How Long Can You Store A Steak In The Freezer?
Once you are ready to go and all wrapped up, remember – it’s safe to keep fresh steak for up to 12 months in the freezer at a very low temperature. But its flavor, texture and smell will deteriorate significantly.
That’s why I recommend you consume it all within the first month and don’t keep it in the freezer for longer than 6 months.
How To Save A Freezer Burnt Steak?
First things first – freezer burn is not a food safety issue and is safe to eat. However this whole oxidative dehydration process couldn’t just not affect our steak.
Yes, flavor, texture and color are all ruined – I wouldn’t eat that steak!
What are the options? Once again, if it’s only a single spot that got burned just cut it off and it will be much better.
I would also recommend you try using a marinade to replenish the evaporated moisture – even though you cut that bit off, it’s likely that a lot of juices got evaporated from the entire piece anyway.
One caution though. Please do not overdo it with a marinade – steak is not a sponge and it won’t suck it all in, but you are risking to make the surface mushy and even less palatable.
Another alternative, if you are still wondering how to fix freezer burnt steak, is to brine it. Unlike marinating this method actually turns meat into a sponge-like matter, which sucks in the water and salt solution. I typically use a 60g salt per 1 liter concentration and leave it overnight in the fridge. As a result of osmosis, the steak becomes juicier and heavier. I would then recommend to cook this steak in oven at low heat followed by finishing it on the stove top.
I hope you are now ready to store any meat for long-term (but not too long) in the freezer.
Please share your experience – how do you keep steak safe for long-term? Any questions and comments are very welcome right below.
Find other useful tips for cooking steaks:
- How To Cook Healthy Steak In Skillet: 6 Tricks To Use
- Best Skillet For Cooking Steak: 6 Points To Remember When Buying One
- Top-7 Cheapest Places To Buy Grass-Fed Beef Online In The US
- How Do I Store Steak So It Stays Fresh & Flavorful
- The 7 Ideas For Saving Money On Beef – How To Get A Good Cheap Steak
- How To Store A Steak After Opening The Package & Keep It In The Fridge
- How To Store Meat Long-Term In The Freezer
- Why Grass-Fed Is Better For You & Your Health
- Should I Use An Oven Bag To Cook My Steak, Chicken or Turkey?