Along with beef tenderloin, prime rib is one of the top three choices for a traditional Christmas dinner! For those looking to save a buck or two this holiday season, you may be wondering how long can you freeze prime rib? We have the meaty details!
Prime rib is an amazing main course that can easily feed an entire family. Thus, if you find it on sale, you can freeze it until your big event! The suitable time frame for freezing prime rib is up to twelve months for raw prime rib and up to six months for cooked prime rib.
However, in order to reach this maximum storage time, it is imperative that you package the prime rib properly before you freeze it. This includes an initial layer of vacuum seal plastic or freezer wrap. Then, aluminum foil should be applied. Finally, if a vacuum seal is not used, then a third and final freezer bag layer is an important step.
The Composition Of Prime Rib
“Most commonly referred to as ribeye roast, beef rib roast or standing rib roast, prime rib is typically sold as both bone-in or boneless in stores.” Interestingly enough though, while this is considered a roast, if it is sliced prior to cooking, then it is classified as a ribeye.
Both cuts of meat are extremely marbled, and therefore, contain an ample amount of fat. This is what gives it that rich, juicy, and meaty flavor that you come to expect with beef products.
This detail plays a big factor in the proper storage of this savory dish. Although you will not want to remove the fat and bone when freezing this meat raw, once cooked, meat experts recommend cutting away any excess fat and the bone as well as sectioning off individual portions.
This will help to expedite the freezing process of the prime rib, allowing for more of a flash freeze. It will also help you save on storage space and diminish the time it takes to defrost your next meal. Finally, by dividing out portions, you can help to limit food waste.
Fat And Salt Do Not Mix
Additionally, when salt is a part of the seasoning, it is extremely important that you follow the advice to remove the fat. Why? The American Meat Science Association notes that “salt in the packaging will draw out moisture and will oxidize the meat fat, giving it a rancid flavor and shortening the period the meat can be left in the freezer. Therefore any meat that is further processed, or contains added salt will stay fresh for a shorter amount of time in the freezer.”
What this also means is that you should never season your prime rib before you freeze it! Salt is in a surprising number of meat rubs and marinades so it is always best to wait until the days leading up to cooking to apply these accouterments.
How To Freeze Uncooked Prime Rib?
When the prime rib is raw, make sure to leave everything intact. This will ensure that the savory flavor of the beef will be present when you serve this signature dish. An average roast will weigh anywhere between six to twelve pounds and have up to five ribs, with a whole roast reaching up to 16 pounds. This means that flash freezing is not an option.
Therefore, your first step is to make sure that there is plenty of room in the freezer. This will provide for ample airflow around the prime rib, which will allow it to freeze faster. Remember that the main reasons for the spoilage of frozen meats are oxygen, moisture, light, and the bacteria that can form when the three other factors are in play.
Therefore, it is always best to freeze quickly and double or triple down on your forms of protection.
As mentioned, it is ideal to ensure that you get all of the oxygen out of the packaging to better guarantee the freezer shelf life of this expensive item. The best way to achieve this is by vacuum packing the meat. This will eliminate the issues of oxidation and moisture. A bonus is that is also prevents freezer burn! Make sure to label the plastic with the date of packaging. This will keep your meat fresh for up to 12 months.
This time frame is dependent on temperatures consistently remaining below zero degrees Fahrenheit as well as the light exposure that the meat endures. In fact, with enough illumination, you will see noticeable changes in the coloring and flavor of the meat.
In order to avoid this, you should apply another protective layer around the vacuum seal using heavy duty aluminum foil. Just tightly overwrap the prime rib with the foil, ensuring that no light can get through, and then freeze. By taking these precautions as well as freezing the meat prior to the “Best Buy” date, you can rest assured that your meat will stay good for the next year.
If you do not have a vacuum sealer on hand, freezer wrap is another fantastic alternative. Tightly wrap the meat and then apply a second layer of aluminum foil. Finally, place the packaged prime rib into a freezer-safe ziplock bag. Make a point to remove as much of the air as possible. Lastly, label the package with the date. Freeze your prime rib anywhere from four months to a year with this method.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not use aluminum foil directly on the meat. During the thawing process, the aluminum will break off easily, sticking to the prime rib. This can create quite a headache for the chef. Thus, always use the freezer wrap or a ziplock bag first.
Your third option is to keep the meat encased in its original packaging and apply a layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Then, just as you would with the freezer wrap method, place it in a ziplock bag. Then, remove the air and place it in the freezer with a label.
How To Freeze Cooked Prime Rib?
The same freezing methods will apply for cooked prime rib as well, but there is one crucial step that you must take before you freeze it. Allow it to fully cool. Remove the meat from the cooking tray and place it on a cookie sheet or platter. Cut it into individual slices, removing the fat and the bone as detailed above.
Allow it to cool in the fridge or on the counter. If cooling in room temperature conditions, make sure that it is for less than two hours, otherwise, spoilage can occur.
Then, follow the same packing instructions as above. Both vacuum sealing or freezer wrap are suitable storage methods. However, unlike the raw product, this will only last up to six months in the freezer. Thus, label your packaging and store promptly.
How To Heat Frozen Prime Rib?
Allow It To Defrost
The first step in cooking meat that was previously frozen is to pull it out at least 24 hours in advance, but no more than four days before cooking. This will give it plenty of time to cool, without giving it time to go bad.
Cook It Low And Slow
Prime rib should be cooked low and slow. This helps to reduce the shrinkage of the meat and keep it moist throughout the cooking process. This is extremely important for preparing the prime rib that you chose to freeze since cold storage can cause products to dry out.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises that you “cook all raw beef steaks and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F (62.8 °C) as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow the meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.” This applies to both raw and previously cooked options.
For a raw six-pound roast with the bone in, this can be achieved by cooking the meat at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 2 hours and 18 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes (23 to 25 minutes per pound). These times can fluctuate based on how you want your roast cooked. Finally, once cooked, these products will only last between three to five days in the refrigerator. Moreover, previously frozen food items should never be refrozen again.
Health Benefits Of Prime Rib
This exceptional cut of meat is a fantastic source of protein! In fact, one three-ounce serving has almost 20 grams of protein! It is also brimming with zinc, iron, niacin, phosphorus and vitamins B-6 and B-12. While health experts advise limiting your consumption of this fatty red meat, on occasion, it can be a delicious way to get your daily value of these necessary vitamins and minerals!
Before cooking any meat, always look for changes in color, texture, and smell. These are clear signs of spoilage. If this is the case, err on the side of caution and throw it out. Thankfully, if you freeze your prime rib in optimal packaging and temperature conditions, you are not likely to come upon any issues!
Moreover, go through your freezer once a month. This will help to eliminate food waste, saving you time, money, and a headache down the road. The last thing you want is to spend a pretty penny on an exceptional cut of prime rib only to see it go to waste!
Heidi is a wife, mother, Newfie owner, writer and Meteorologist. She was born and raised in Texas and has worked in the broadcast industry for over a decade.