From a quality standpoint, frozen roasts keep for up to 12 months before taste and texture begin to deteriorate. Quality aside, the same frozen roasts are safe to cook and eat indefinitely, thanks to freezing temperatures too cold for bacteria to multiply inside the freezer. When removed from the freezer, bacteria that is naturally on the meat becomes active again. Cooking a thawed roast within the recommended time frame ensures that bacteria does not grow to dangerous levels, making you sick if you consume the meat.
It is a common misconception that defrosting a roast on the countertop is safe. Unfortunately, this is not the case. When the temperature of the defrosting roast reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit, any bacteria on the meat that freezing rendered inactive begin to multiply at a heightened rate. Since these bacteria are responsible for food-borne illnesses, consuming a roast that contains high levels of these dangerous bacteria can cause you to become seriously ill.
Refrigeration thawing is the safest method for defrosting roasts because the low temperature within the refrigerator slows the growth of dangerous bacteria as the meat thaws. Simply transfer the roast from the freezer to the refrigerator the day before you plan to cook it to allow ample defrosting time. In the refrigerator, the roast remains safe to eat for up to five days. If it's not cooked in that time frame, throw it away.
Microwave or Cold-Water Thawing
Microwave defrosting is a safe alternative to defrosting in the refrigerator, as is cold-water thawing in a large bowl or sink of cold tap water. The cold-water method of defrosting requires a fresh water change every 30 minutes to prevent bacterial growth. Because microwave defrosting tends to partially cook the meat and cold-water thawing exposes the meat to bacteria in the air, both methods of defrosting require immediate cooking of the roast when thawed.
It is possible to cook a roast while it is still frozen. Transferring a roast from the freezer directly to the oven, adds 50-percent more cooking time to the usual. Checking the internal temperature of the roast with a meat thermometer prior to removing it from the oven to ensure it's safe to eat. For beef, lamb, pork and veal, the internal temperature of a fully cooked roast is 145 F -- chicken roasts must be 165 F.
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