What better way is there to put a twist on your meaty recipes, besides marinating? I’m sure there’s plenty of options, but marinating really gives a lot of personality to your dishes, and the best part is that marinated food is equally enjoyed by kids and adults. Marinating, for those who are not familiar with the term, is a method by which you soak food in a seasoned liquid prior to cooking. These liquids, called marinades, can be made using acids (such as lemon or vinegar) or sweets (mango, brown sugar, or papaya), each providing a different and surprising effect on taste and texture. As much as you like marinated meat, you may sometimes prepare too much. And these questions start hovering in your mind. Can you freeze marinated meat? How long can you keep marinated meat in the fridge?
Yes, you can definitely freeze marinated meat. And you should do so as it is a great way to save time in the future, since you’ll have already-marinated meat handy for a special occasion.
If you have not marinated the meat yet, you can actually pour the marinade into the bag where you’ll place the meat (it should be a resealable and airtight bag). You should be careful not to fill the bag nor leave it too empty. Liquids usually expand upon freezing, so there is a danger that it might jeopardize the bag. On the other hand, if you don’t pour a sufficient amount, air will fill up the rest of the bag, exposing your meat to freezer burn. The ideal space between the content and the lid should measure approximately 1 inch, and it should be measured after the meat has been placed inside the bag.
Lastly, after you’ve sealed the bag, shake it to make sure that the meat is drenched in the marinade and lay it to rest in the freezer for a few hours, in a way in which you’re able to see the meat in full contact with the liquid. Right after the meat has frozen with the mix surrounding it, store it normally as you would any other item.
You shouldn’t have to worry too much about possible damages to the meat’s outer texture (particularly if the marinade is acidic), as the marination process is delayed drastically while it’s frozen.
Meat such as chicken and beef is surprisingly very amicable to the freezer, and the marination should not affect it in any significant way. It might actually be argued that the marinade provides an extra layer of protection to the meat, but that could be debatable, of course. It still won’t last forever, though, so you should keep track of the time you leave it in the freezer.
This is absolutely not recommended, as the temperature changes will definitely affect the overall quality of the meat, as well as produce the dreaded ice crystals that destroy its tissue. If you absolutely need to freeze it again, make sure it has not been left out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours, as it will also get contaminated, with the risk of foodborne illness.
Marinated meat or beef can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days. After that time, the meat will start to go bad. The refrigerator should be set to 40º F or lower when keeping marinated meat in the fridge.
In the freezer, marinated meat won’t go bad. However, it should be consumed within 3 months after freezing, since it will decrease considerably in quality after that point in time. The freezer should be set to 0º F or lower.
To thaw marinated meat, the best and most common resource is the refrigerator. Leave the bags in the fridge to thaw overnight and cook away the next day.
The faster route consists of submerging the unopened airtight bag in a bowl of cold water, remembering to change the water every 20-30 minutes. It should not take more than 1 hour to defrost.
Even faster, you can push it in the microwave and set it to defrost. It’s important to have everything ready to heat the meat after thawed with this technique, as meat can easily catch bacteria that way.
Do not thaw over the counter at room temperature as the meat can develop bacterial growth at this temperature and causes food poisoning.
The best way to cook frozen marinated meat directly from the freezer is in the oven, as the oven cooks the meat faster and more evenly than most other methods. Some people recommend placing the bag under cold running water and preheating the oven preferably to 400º F at the same time.