It's inevitable that some things we put in our freezer will make their way to hidden recesses of the ice box, under a half-used bag of crinkle-cut fries and concealed in an unmarked wrapping of butcher paper. But once you unearth that rump roast you bought and froze so long ago, don't worry about a little freezer burn -- whether the roast is safe to eat depends on when you put it in the freezer and how you defrost it, not on how long it's been frozen. Proper wrapping before freezing and proper defrosting are essential for best results.
Freezer Life of Rump Roast
Anything kept constantly frozen at 0 degrees Fahrenheit will be safe indefinitely, but there are some guidelines to keep in mind for best quality. Cuts of raw beef, including rump roast, are best if defrosted and cooked within six months to one year of freezing. Cooked rump roast is best if frozen for only up to three months. In either case, it is essential to freeze the roast in a timely manner. Raw rump roast should spend no more than five days past the sell-by date in the refrigerator before freezing, while cooked roast should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking and frozen within four days.
Wrapping for Long-Term Storage
You can freeze meat in its original store packaging if you plan to use it within a few weeks, but since this packing isn't airtight, it's not ideal for long-term storage. Exposure to air and moisture will quickly deteriorate the quality of the meat, so if you plan to keep the rump roast in the freezer for several months, over-wrap the original packaging with plastic wrap or butcher paper followed by heavy duty aluminum foil. You could also place it an airtight freezer bag, removing as much excess air as possible.
Safe Methods for Defrosting
The ideal way to defrost your rump roast is to place it in the refrigerator and let it thaw gradually over a few days. This will allow you to keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook it, or to refreeze it if necessary. To thaw the roast quickly you could put it in the microwave, but this is not recommended because it's difficult to defrost a whole roast evenly and without actually cooking the outside. A quick but gentler method is to submerge the package of beef in cold water until thawed, changing the water every 15 or 30 minutes to keep it cold. Whether microwaving or using the cold water method, you must cook the meat immediately once it's thawed and you cannot refreeze it. Finally, be sure to cook the roast to an internal temperature of at least 145 F.
When to Discard
No matter how well-wrapped your rump roast may be, long-term freezing will likely result in some freezer burn. If you see a few spots of freezer burn, feel free to cut it off and cook your roast as planned. However, if a large portion is freezer burned, it's best to cut your losses and discard the whole roast for quality purposes. Other indications you should toss your roast include signs of spoilage upon defrosting such as a slimy texture or sour odor. Color changes are to be expected in frozen beef, so don't assume it's bad if your rump roast has turned from bright red to dull or dark brown.