Raw beef steak freezes better than cooked beef steak because raw meat still has all of its juices, and its natural moistness helps maintain the quality of the meat in its frozen state. Freezing is a good way to preserve raw beef steak because the meat has little to no nutrient loss while it is in the freezer. Freezing also prevents the growth of bacteria and other microbes that lead to both spoilage and foodborne illness when meat is not properly stored. Guidelines and methods address freezing, thawing, cooking and refreezing raw beef steak to help ensure its safety and quality.
If you plan to freeze raw beef steak, start with the freshest meat possible. A raw beef steak that was fresh when you froze it will taste better than a steak that was past its prime when it went into the freezer. Look for raw beef steak that is bright red and check the "sell by" or "use by" date on the package.
To avoid the graying and hardening of meat known as freezer burn and maintain the overall quality of a raw beef steak, you must wrap your meat in an airtight package. While you can throw a piece of raw beef steak into the freezer in its original packaging, the quality of the meat will be better preserved if you rewrap it in a freezer-safe wrap or bag sold in grocery stores, or use these products to over-wrap the original package. Package raw beef steaks individually for faster freezing and thawing. Always wash your hands before and after handling raw beef steak.
If you are freezing more than one raw beef steak, spread the packages out in a single layer on your freezer shelf to allow for quick freezing. You can stack the packages once they are frozen solid. Most food can be kept frozen indefinitely and still be safe to eat, according to the Food and Drug Administration. For the sake of quality, however, freeze raw beef steak at 0 degrees Fahrenheit for no longer than 12 months.
To defrost frozen raw beef steak, transfer the steak from the freezer to the refrigerator. Place the steak on a deep plate or in a bowl to catch any juices that are released during thawing. It is best to thaw a raw beef steak on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so raw juices do not accidentally spill onto other foods when you remove the meat for cooking. If you don’t want to wait the full day or two it takes to thaw a steak in the refrigerator, you can put your steak in a plastic bag and submerge it in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the meat is thawed, then cook at once. You can also use the defrost setting on your microwave oven to thaw a frozen raw beef steak just before cooking. Do not thaw beef steak by letting it sit out at room temperature.
If you defrost a frozen raw beef steak in the refrigerator but end up not cooking it, or cooking it but not eating it, you can repackage it and put it back in the freezer, according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. If you thaw a raw steak by removing it from the freezer and letting it sit at room temperature, you cannot refreeze it unless you cook it first.
Molly McAdams is a writer who lives in New York City. She has covered health and lifestyle for various print and online publishers since 1989. She holds a Master of Science degree in nutrition.