How to Cold Pack Beef for Freezing: A Step-By-Step Guide

Freezing beef is a great way to save money and make your grocery budget stretch further Cold packing, also called raw packing, is an easy method for freezing beef at home. With some simple supplies and these step-by-step instructions, you’ll be on your way to having high-quality frozen beef ready to defrost and cook anytime.

Why Cold Pack Beef for the Freezer?

Cold packing or freezing raw beef without cooking it first has several advantages

  • Maintains freshness and texture – Freezing beef while raw helps it keep a tender, juicy texture when thawed and cooked later.

  • Saves time – Skip lengthy cooking and cooling steps before freezing. Just portion, seal and toss in the freezer.

  • Uses less energy – No need for pre-cooking beef before freezing it, which saves energy.

  • Lower cost – Buying larger bulk packs of raw beef and freezing in meal-size portions saves money.

  • Control portions – Weighing or eyeballing portions before freezing allows you to package beef into planned meal sizes.

Overall, cold packing is a fast and convenient system for freezing beef correctly. Follow these tips for high quality results.

Step 1: Choose the Right Beef Cuts

You can cold pack most beef cuts for freezing, but some hold up better than others. The best choices include:

  • Steaks (ribeye, sirloin, strip, tenderloin)
  • Roasts (chuck, rump, round)
  • Ground beef
  • Stew meat
  • Beef tips

Avoid freezing very lean cuts like eye of round or cuts with bones, as they become dry or lose flavor when frozen raw. Also avoid pre-formed patties, as they can crumble.

Choose fresh beef within 2-3 days of purchase and make sure it’s cold when packing. For ground beef, use the 15% fat ratio recommended for burgers.

Step 2: Portion the Beef

Portioning beef into planned meal sizes before freezing makes it easy to defrost just what you need later. Here are some tips:

  • Trim steaks and roasts of any excess fat or silverskin for best flavor.

  • Cut roasts into 2-3 inch chunks for stew meat or kabobs.

  • Separate ground beef into patties or crumble into recipe-size portions.

  • For stir fries, slice roasts very thinly across the grain before freezing.

  • Use a food scale or visual comparisons to estimate 3-6 oz portions.

Wrapping individual steaks or patties separates them for quick future use. Overall, divide beef into the meal amounts that work for your recipes.

Step 3: Package the Beef

Packaging beef properly is key to avoiding freezer burn. Use materials designed for freezing:

  • Freezer bags – Choose thick, moisture-proof bags made for freezing to protect beef. Remove as much air as possible before sealing.

  • Freezer paper – Use multiple layers of plastic freezer wrap or paper, pressing tightly against beef surfaces.

  • Vacuum sealer – For the best protection, a vacuum sealing machine removes oxygen and seals in moisture.

  • Containers – Only use containers designed for freezing and leave no headspace.

Make sure to label freezer packages with the cut, weight and date before freezing.

Step 4. Freeze Promptly

For safety and quality, freeze beef as fast as possible after packaging.

  • Place packs close together on freezer shelves or in stacks to freeze quickly.

  • Avoid overloading the freezer, which slows freezing.

  • For quickest freezing, set the temperature at 0°F or below.

  • Use a blast freezer if available.

Frozen beef should feel completely solid in 12-24 hours. Arrange packages neatly so you can identify contents.

Step 5: Store at 0°F or Below

For long-term storage, maintain an ideal freezing temperature of 0°F or below. Monitor your freezer temperature periodically. At proper temperatures, beef should stay frozen for 9-12 months before quality starts declining.

Place newer beef in the back of the freezer and move older packs up to use first. Do not refreeze beef once thawed.

Thawing and Cooking Frozen Beef Safely

Always thaw beef correctly before cooking for food safety:

  • In the refrigerator below 40°F

  • In cold water, changing water every 30 minutes

  • In the microwave using defrost setting

  • During cooking process in oven or on stove

Cook to an internal temperature of at least 145°F for medium rare or 160°F for well done. Discard any discolored portions after thawing.

Let defrosted beef stand 5-10 minutes before carving for juiciness. Add marinades after thawing rather than before freezing for food safety.

Tips for Freezing Other Types of Beef

Follow a similar raw packing method for these beef items:

  • Stew meat: Dice roasts and freeze in recipe-size portions.

  • Kabobs: Cut beef into 1-2 inch cubes. Freeze cubes spread out on a sheet, then package.

  • Ground meat patties: Form patties slightly thinner than desired cooked thickness before freezing individually or in stacks separated by parchment paper.

  • Meatloaf mix: Combine ground beef, pork and veal. Portion into recipe amounts, flatten slightly and freeze.

With some preparation, almost any beef cut can be successfully frozen using the cold pack method. Freezing beef in planned meal portions saves time and reduces waste later. Follow these guidelines for properly packing, freezing and storing raw beef for maximum quality and convenience.

How to can meat / Canning meat


How do you cold pack meat?

Place the cut meat directly into clean, dry canning jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace at the top. Do not add any liquid, as the meat will release its own juices during the canning process. Use a bubble remover or plastic spatula to remove any air pockets.

How do the Amish preserve meat?

For generations, Amish families have prepared for the winter and spring seasons by canning, a method by which they seal food in glass jars to preserve it for future use.

What is the cold or raw pack technique?

In the cold pack or raw pack method, fresh, uncooked vegetables are packed into the jar (leaving the recommended headspace; see fig. 3), covered with boiling water, placed in the pressure canner, and heat-processed.

How to can meat for long term storage?

Fill jars with pieces. Add boiling meat broth, tomato juice, or water, leaving 1 inch (2.5 cm) of headspace. Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart to the jars, if desired. Adjust lids and process per the recommendations in the tables on the following pages, according to the canning method used.

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