As with most meat, the safest way to thaw beef is in the refrigerator. Small cuts of beef can take up to 24 hours, while larger slabs can take a few days. If you’re in a pinch, frozen beef can be thawed in a bowl or container of lukewarm water. Place the bowl or container in the sink and leave under a running faucet. Never allow raw beef to thaw or sit on a counter or cutting board. Since it takes longer to thaw than most meats, it is more susceptible to bacteria growth.
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In order to effectively freeze beef, you’ll want to limit its exposure to air. This not only prevents the production of freezer burn, but also extends its shelf life to three months or longer. The best way to package beef is to wrap it tightly in freezer paper or plastic wrap. You should then wrap the meat in a layer of aluminum foil or place it in a plastic bag.
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For ground beef, keep refrigerated and use within one to two days. It can stay in its original container if the packaging hasn’t been opened. Steaks follow the same protocol, but can last a bit longer at three to five days. It’s actually best to allow a little airflow with stored meat, as tightly-adhered plastic like Saran wrap can make meat sweat and, as a result, less tender. Meat can be transferred to plastic containers, but should be covered loosely.
Never refrigerate raw meat if it’s been sitting out beyond two hours.
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Next: How to Store Corned Beef
How to Store Corned Beef
It’s important to always check the “sell by” date of uncooked corned beef, as it should remain in its pouch with pickling juices. You will generally be able to store it in your refrigerator for five to seven days.
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Next: How to Freeze Corned Beef
How to Freeze Corned Beef
Prolonged freezing will certainly affect the taste and texture of corned beef, but it will still be safe to eat for up to one month. First, drain the brine to rid the meat of its excess salt. Salt encourages texture changes and can increase the rotting process. Next, wrap the meat tightly (a vacuum sealer is preferred) with plastic wrap and ensure that the air content is minimal. Wrap the beef with another layer of plastic wrap and place into the freezer.
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Next: How to Thaw Corned Beef
How to Thaw Corned Beef
There is no need to thaw frozen uncooked corned beef before cooking, as it is typically placed in a slow cooker or a pot of simmering water.
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Liven up this classic Irish boiled dinner by curing the beef yourself. Our recipe takes less time than most (3 days instead of weeks), and you can tailor the seasoning to your own taste. You’ll likely have leftovers—use them up in a Corned Beef–Potato Rösti or our larger-than-life Reuben Sandwich.
What to buy: We use a whole boneless beef brisket for this recipe; you may need to special-order one from your butcher.
Game plan: If you want to make this for St. Patrick’s Day, plan ahead—you will need to let the beef brine for at least 3 days before you cook it. If you want the pickled flavor to be more prominent, you can brine the beef for up to 1 week. The color will be more gray than store-bought corned beef, which is often full of nitrates and curing salt, helping keep it pink.
This recipe was featured as part of our Make Your Own Corned Beef project.