How to Defrost Corned Beef

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Corned beef is served with potatoes and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day.
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Can you freeze corned beef? Yes, you can, and this is a good thing because stores may sell it in large pieces that lead to leftovers. Alternatively, you might choose to buy or cook one and not make it or eat it until a few weeks later. What if you bought sliced corned beef from the deli counter? There are essential guidelines to follow for all of these situations.

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The Importance of Food Safety

Food safety is always the most crucial concern when it comes to freezing corned beef or thawing any kind of meat, so this is not something to be taken lightly. You can freeze uncooked corned beef, but you will want to remove it from the package, drain it, wrap it in plastic or aluminum foil and seal it in a freezerproof bag or container. All of that salt could make the meat taste bad and might also change the texture.

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Once it is in the freezer, you'll need to cook and eat it within two months. You'll be able to keep it a bit longer if you cook it first; you can freeze cooked corned beef for up to three months. It's always wise to mark the packages once you seal them. Finding something in the freezer but not knowing what it is can be very frustrating, and leaving it in there for too long is just as bad.

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Freezing Corned Beef

Corned beef is also called corned beef brisket since that is the kind of meat from which it is actually made. It is cured in a salt solution, but this does not preserve it forever. Whenever you buy meat, you should always check the expiration date before you make the purchase. Stores often leave out things that are too close to or beyond that date, and they will often reduce the price. However, it is not worth the savings because the meat may not taste right or may make you sick.

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How long does corned beef last in the fridge? You can store unopened, uncooked corned beef in the fridge for up to a week. If you can't finish your cooked corned beef within three days, it's best to freeze it.

For corned beef meat from the deli, start by removing it from the original packaging and lay out the slices on paper towels or wax paper. Stack these in a small pile and place them in freezer bags; press out the excess air before sealing. You can take as many slices as you'd like at once as long as you seal it carefully afterward.

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How Long to Thaw a Brisket

It is always safest to thaw raw and cooked beef inside your refrigerator instead of out on your countertop. You'll need to remove it from your freezer and place it in the fridge in the original packaging about 24 hours before you want to use it. This time is about right for a 3- to 4-pound brisket; larger portions may take longer, so give it an extra day if you aren't sure. Also, remember to put the package in a dish or bowl to catch any drippings. If it is uncooked, you can cook it without thawing it; it will take longer, though.

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Uncooked, frozen corned beef can be cooked in a slow cooker for eight to 10 hours without thawing as long as the meat is wrapped correctly and has no freezer burn. To cook it faster, use the higher setting and estimate the cooking time at 34 minutes a pound. It's also possible to thaw corned beef in a microwave using the correct time and weight defrost settings.

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