Can I Marinate Steak Then Freeze It?

If you've bought more steaks than you can possibly eat, it's safe to marinate the lot of them and then freeze anything you won't prepare immediately. Proper food handling is imperative, especially when dealing with meats and other perishables. How you marinate the steaks and how you freeze them will affect the finished product. If done properly, there's no problem to chucking your flavorful steaks in the freezer for a future barbecue.

There's no problem marinating and freezing a fresh steak. (Image: mythja/iStock/Getty Images)

Proper Marinating Procedure

To safely marinate your steak, put the steak and marinade in a glass or plastic container. Do not use metal, as the acidic ingredients of the marinade can react poorly with metals. Always marinate beef products in the refrigerator, because leaving steaks out on the countertop may expose them to dangerous bacteria. Do not leave the steaks to marinate for longer than their indicated refrigerated shelf life. The marinade does not extend a steak's safe shelf life. If you use the marinade as a sauce, boil it before serving it with the finished steaks.

Proper Freezing Procedure

How you freeze your steaks also affects their texture and determines whether they are safe to eat. Freeze steaks within three to five days of the "sell by" date indicated on the packaging. If a "use by" date is provided, freeze the steaks before the indicated date. Never re-freeze beef, as the repeated changes in temperature negatively affect the texture and increase the likelihood of contagion. After marinating steaks, wrap them for freezing with porous plastic, wrapped within aluminum foil, freezer paper or plastic bags designed for frozen storage. Properly wrapping your marinated steaks will prevent freezer burn. While your steaks can last indefinitely, they will begin to lose flavor and their texture will degrade after about nine months.

Proper Defrosting Procedure

How you defrost your frozen steaks is as important as how you marinate and freeze them. The basic principle of safe defrosting is that you do not want any part of the steaks to sit at room temperature for any length of time. Therefore, never let your steaks defrost out on the countertop. You can slowly defrost them in the refrigerator, usually over the course of several hours. To defrost beef more rapidly, set it in an airtight bag and submerge the bag in cold water, refreshing the water every 30 minutes. A steak may fully defrost in about an hour. A microwave is also useful for defrosting, using a special "defrost" setting. However, if you use a microwave, immediately cook the steak upon defrosting.

General Tips

When marinating steaks, you'll need to use an acidic ingredient such as vinegar, citrus or tomato, to soften the proteins in the meats. The acidic components of a marinade are responsible for the more tender texture. In addition, many marinades include some type of oil to provide additional moisture. Marinades for beef steaks rely less on oily marinades than leaner types of meat, such as chicken or fish. Finally, a marinade needs some flavoring element, such as herbs, spices, sweeteners or aromatics. The combination of ingredients should be relatively thin, so that it can easily seep into the meat.

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