Each year, as Saint Patrick’s Day rolls around, cooking channels and social media are flooded with recipes and pictures of corned beef dishes. Chances are, you buy some during this time, make a few sandwiches, and you’re stuck with a pound of corned beef you don’t want anymore.
Instead of pretending your corned beef doesn’t exist, why not try for a long-term solution. Can you freeze corned beef? Well, in this article, you will learn all about freezing corned beef. But that’s not all. I’m going to unravel the mysteries surrounding corned beef and even go into other things you cook with it!
Corned Beef: The Stuff No One Tells You
Corned beef has always been shrouded in a bit of ambiguity. Most people rarely eat corned beef, and so they don’t know much about it.
What is corn beef? What meat is corned beef? How long does corned beef last?
For starters, as the name suggests, it is made from beef. More specifically, corned beef is made from a tough cut of beef, like brisket. The brisket is salt-cured, sometimes in a brine solution in a long process, not unlike pickling.
The only difference between corned beef brisket vs regular brisket is that regular brisket is raw and unprepared, while corned beef is cured.
After the meat is cured, the brisket becomes soft and tender, so it is easy to slice or cut. What does corned beef taste like?
Corned beef has a rich, savory, umami flavor, with added saltiness from the brining. This flavorful taste makes it great for many different recipes.
Corned beef in Jewish preparations is often used as a sandwich filling. On the other hand, it is cut into long slices and consumed with cabbage for a more traditional Irish meal. However, there are other ways to cook corned beef.
But what about health concerns? Is corned beef bad for you? People are often wary about cured meats because of the high salt content and nitrates used in the process. While opinions about this vary, you can try using uncured versions of corned beef if you are concerned about this.
Now, let’s talk shelf life. How long is corned beef good for?
Uncooked corned beef can last for 5-7 days in the fridge when wrapped and stored correctly. Cooked corned beef is edible for 3-4 days in the fridge when kept in an airtight container.
But for long-term storage, freezing corned beef is your best bet.
Freezing Corned Beef
If your corned beef is nearing its expiry date, you can freeze it to prolong its life. Can you freeze cooked corned beef? Yes, you can cook and prepare corned beef in advance, freeze it, and then use it when needed.
Here is how to tell if corned beef is bad. As soon as you think your beef smells ‘off’, it is time to discard it. You may also notice areas of discoloration, as well as a general sliminess to the corned beef.
If this happens, throw out your meat instantly; don’t risk tasting it first. The idea is to freeze the corned beef before it gets to this stage. Uncooked corned beef will last up to 8 months in the freezer, while the cooked beef can be eaten within 6 months.
Freezing an Entire Block of Uncooked Corned Beef:
To freeze a large uncooked chunk of corned beef, start by draining the excess liquid from the beef. The salt in the meat can draw out moisture, and moisture is the key enemy when preserving food. You can leave the meat on a colander over a bowl for an hour or so, and then pat dry with paper towels to get it dry.
Then, wrap the block of corned beef in two layers of cling film or plastic wrap. You need to ensure that there are no exposed parts, as this can cause freezer burn.
Lastly, put the wrapped corned beef in a heavy-duty freezer bag. Push out as much air as you can, then seal and label with the date. Place the freezer bag in the coldest area of your freezer.
Freezing Slices of Uncooked Corned Beef:
Slicing corned beef in advance can save you some prep, especially if you just use it for sandwiches. This also makes defrosting easier.
Cut your corned beef into slices after draining all the liquids and patting it dry. Wrap each slice of beef with cling film twice. Then, pack the slices into an airtight container or freezer bag. Label with the date and then put it in the freezer.
Freezing Cooked Corned Beef:
Freezing cooked corned beef is a little harder because the added ingredients can affect the meat’s flavor and shelf life. If you really want to prolong the shelf life of cooked corned beef, you should use a vacuum sealer.
Place your leftover corned beef in a heavy-duty, freezer-safe plastic bag and vacuum seal it. Label with the storage date then put in the freezer. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, follow the instructions mentioned above for uncooked corned beef.
If you don’t vacuum seal cooked corned beef before freezing, your meat may change in flavor and texture when thawed and reheated.
How to Make the Most Out of Your Corned Beef
People who dislike corned beef often do so because they don’t know how to cook it right. Can you overcook corned beef? Overcooked beef tends to become rubbery and flavorless, and this can happen to cured meats as well.
On the other hand, undercooked corn beef is safe to eat as long as it reaches 145F/63C, but the meat won’t be fork tender. If you want to know how to tell when corned beef is done, cook until it is just over 145F with 3 minutes of resting time. The meat should take on a brown-grey color.
If this is the internal temp of corned beef, you can go ahead and use it in your dishes. There is no consensus as to what temperature corned beef should be for it to be cooked to perfection, so you should cook it to your preference.
How to Reheat Corned Beef:
The best way to thaw corned beef is to keep it in the fridge overnight. For faster thawing, place the plastic-wrapped meat in a bowl of cool water and let it thaw on the counter. Defrosting trays also speed up the thawing process.
After defrosting, the uncooked corned beef can be cooked or added to other dishes. Meanwhile, if you are dealing with frozen cooked corned beef, you can add it to the dish during cooking, as no defrosting or reheating is needed.
Using Up Leftover Corned Beef:
There are many ways of preparing corned beef, so you can use your creativity when cooking.
Here’s the best way on how to buy corned beef: get ready-to-cook corned beef in a vacuum-sealed pack in the meat section of a grocery store. You can also check farmer’s markets for freshly made versions, or use canned corned beef.
You can use corned beef in omelets, as a pizza topping, in soups and stews, and even as a filling in wraps and tacos. Because corned beef cooked temperature is more forgiving, you can add it to the very end of the cooking process.
Even if you aren’t celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day, you can try making traditional corned beef and cabbage. Together with roasted potatoes and soda bread, it makes for a simple, yet hearty dish. Best of all, you can prep and freeze all the ingredients in advance.
Can you freeze cooked cabbage? Does cooked cabbage freeze well? The answer is yes, just place them into airtight freezer bags first. Microwave to reheat and you are good to go. In case you are wondering: Can you freeze uncooked cabbage, blanching it first is a better option.
If you still have queries about freezing corned beef, you’ll find answers here!
01. Why is Corned Beef Called Corned Beef?
Corned beef uses chunks of salt which resemble corn kernels. This is where the name corned beef was coined and this was done during the 17th century.
02. How Long is Cooked Beef Good in the Fridge?
Cooked beef can be safely stored in the fridge for 4-5 days when covered and kept in an airtight container.
03. Where to Buy Fresh Corned Beef?
Fresh corned beef can be found in most chain grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and even gourmet meat shops.
04. What Temperature is Corned Beef Done?
Corned beef is ready to eat as soon as it reaches a temperature of 145F.
By now, you know if you can freeze corned beef or not. With that knowledge in mind, you won’t have to force yourself to eat corned beef sandwiches each year for weeks after Saint Paddy’s Day. Instead, freeze your meat, and use it in a myriad of dishes throughout the year!