Q. When there is a sale on roasts such as prime rib, is it okay to freeze it if you plan to eat it in a week or so? Does freezing affect the taste or juiciness of the roast? How long can you safely freeze it? Is it best to defrost in the fridge or in a baggie in cold water?
A. If you buy beef in vacuum-pack plastic bags–the way most large pieces of beef are sold these days–there’s no need to freeze it if you’re going to use it within the next week. Or even in the next two or three weeks. Indeed, leaving beef in the cryovac pouch is the way most steakhouses “wet-age” their beef.
This advice doesn’t apply to packages of beef which have clearly been wrapped in the store–just to the original plastic packs with a perfect vacuum.
Freezing, I think, doesn’t affect the juiciness, but does affect the texture of beef, making it soft and–if the freezing and thawing were done badly–kind of mushy. I avoid freezing beef whenever possible.
However, if you must freeze, the rule is this: freeze it as quickly as you can (find the coldest part of the freezer. and put the beef there), and thaw it as slowly as possible. The best place is in the refrigerator. A big piece of beef will take several days to that that way. Meat thawed more quickly–in water, for example–has much more danger of texture change.