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Frequently Asked Questions about Beef

Every day, we receive lots of emails from people asking for answers to general questions. For a glimpse of this dynamic exchange of ideas and tips, and for answers to questions about food that you may have had yourself, please have a look at this FAQ! You can also browse other answers at other FAQs pages or look for answers in articles in the services page.

If you still have questions, post it in the recipe forum where other visitors may respond to your request.


Q. How long can uncooked meat be frozen? How long can it be refrigerated?

A. Depending on the cut, uncooked meat can be stored up to 12 months in the freezer. However, we recommend eating the food within a reasonable time period for quality's sake. Larger cuts, like steaks and roasts, can be safely stored for up to 6 months. Smaller cuts, such as veal chops, should not be frozen for more than 4 months, and ground meat should not be frozen for more than 3 months. Remember, meat stored in the freezer should be kept at 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C).

Roasts, steaks and chops can be stored in the refrigerator from three to five days. Ground meat should be used within a day or two of purchase.

Q. Would you please tell me if it is safe to freeze leftover meatloaf?

A. You may freeze leftover meatloaf; however, don't wait until all the after-dinner dishes are done before you wrap it up and place it in the freezer. Make plans to freeze the leftovers as soon as possible. Place the meatloaf, uncovered, in the refrigerator until it is completely cool. Then, wrap tightly, and use airtight containers or bags made especially for freezing to ensure the quality of your foods. Foods frozen in inferior packaging run the risk of leaking or absorbing smells from other foods in the freezer. Once frozen, meatloaf can be stored up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator, oven or microwave -- never at room temperature.

Q. What is the best method for thawing meat?

A. There are several methods to thaw food safely -- in the refrigerator, under cold, running water, and in the microwave. To ensure that your food is safe to eat, follow one of these methods:

In the refrigerator: Plan ahead as this is the slowest thawing technique. Small frozen items may thaw overnight in the refrigerator, while larger items will take significantly longer.

In cold running water: Place the frozen food in a leak-proof bag and place it under cold running water.

In a microwave on the defrost setting: Plan to cook the food immediately after it has thawed in a microwave, because some areas of the food may have begun cooking during the defrost cycle.

Q.  I see a lot of recipes for grilling. We don't have a grill, so can I broil these recipes instead?

A.  Yes, you can use the broiler for recipes that call for grilling. Grilling and broiling are basically the same cooking method -- cooking within several inches of a heat source. Keep in mind your broiler is probably not capable of attaining the heat of a hot grill. The food will need to be placed closer to the heat source when broiling, usually within 1 to 3 inches.

Q.  Could you tell me what "stew meat" is?

A.  Traditionally, tough, inexpensive cuts of meat are used to make stew. Meat cut from the chuck portion contains a lot of connective tissue, particularly collagen. Collagen melts during cooking, making the meat intensely flavorful. Stewing, or cooking in liquid for several hours, makes this otherwise tough meat tender, and adds all those wonderful flavors to the stew. You can use more tender cuts of meat in a stew. However, more tender cuts tend to not only be much more expensive, but also not as flavorful.

Q. When roasting a large piece of meat, do I need to use a roasting rack? Do I need to cover it?

A.  We recommend that you use a roasting rack, but you don't have to cover it. Roasts placed directly into a roasting pan may cook unevenly. A roasting rack allows the heat to circulate around the meat, cooking and browning the meat uniformly. Covering the roast is generally not recommended, because this interferes with the browning process.

Q.  I often find myself adjusting recipes in order to make enough for my family, but it doesn't quite work for some recipes. Do you have any advice for me?

A.  Changing recipes in order to make more or less servings is called "recipe scaling." Whenever you alter the amounts of ingredients for a given recipe, you may also need to adjust the cooking temperature, cooking time, pan size and seasonings. But for food chemistry reasons, recipe scaling simply does not work well for some dishes: delicate foods such as soufflés, baked items requiring yeast such as breads, and recipes for a single large item that is meant to be later divided into smaller portions such as cakes, pies, breads and whole turkey.

Our Recipe Scaling Page will give you a reliable framework for successful recipe scaling: It offers detailed guidelines for recipe scaling.


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