Beef stew is a wholesome and rustic delicacy that is somewhat delicate to make but worth the effort. Filled with flavors and aromas, bursting with juicy ingredients, and rich texture and consistency, this savory dish can easily get you carried away and make more than a tad extra. When that happens, and believe me, it will; you need a backup option to preserve your beef stew and not have to throw it away. So, can you freeze beef stew?
You can freeze beef stew. In the freezer, it stays safe for up to six months. However, freezing soft or liquid food requires certain conditions. You can’t freeze it in freezer baggies, and you can’t freeze it straight from the stove.
Since discarding beef stew is a borderline crime, knowing how to freeze it is golden wisdom you must acquire. Therefore, in the following paragraphs, I will explain how to freeze your beef stew and have it waiting for you in the freezer whenever you feel peckish in the following six months.
Can You Freeze Beef Stew With Vegetables?
Yes, you can freeze beef stew with vegetables. However, you need to plan the freezing while you cook the stew. The vegetables need to be slow-cooked and thoroughly done.
Leaving the vegetables underdone could be detrimental to the freezing process. Therefore, ensure your vegetables are well-cooked before freeing the beef stew with vegetables. Moreover, let your beef stew with vegetables cool down before freezing it.
Can You Freeze Beef Stew With Potatoes in It?
In theory, you could freeze beef stew with potatoes in it. However, in practice, that doesn’t work that simply. Potatoes aren’t the best food to freeze, as they never return to their original state after defrosting.
Your beef stew will become overly starchy and significantly less flavorful. It will seem and feel as if you poured mashed potatoes inside, and not in a fun way. So, if you can avoid it, I recommend you don’t freeze beef stew with potatoes.
How to Freeze Beef Stew?
To properly freeze beef stew, follow a series of steps. Make sure you observe each of them, don’t skip any of them, and don’t rush the process.
The first thing you need to do is to thoroughly cook the beef stew. Beef stew is not only beef and broth but also contains additional ingredients, such as vegetables, rice, or noodles. It is usually thick, and you can use it as a pasta sauce.
Since the beef needs the longest to cook, you add the rest of the ingredients at a different time, as they need less time to cook. However, the problem arises if you think that all ingredients are fully cooked while some are not. You need to check if all the present ingredients are cooked before adding the new ones.
Freezing uncooked ingredients in the beef broth will result in an overly watery and runny broth texture, thinned consistency, and diminished flavor.
The second thing you need to do is leave the beef broth to cool down before freezing it. Freezing your beef broth while it is still hot, or at least warm, will result in a gooey broth when you defrost it.
The steam will be contained in the freezing container circulating around until the beef broth freezes. During this time, the beef broth will reabsorb the moisture, giving you an overly runny meal with a significantly diminished flavor.
The third step is portioning the broth. This is very important to do because freezing will make the broth expand. So, you may be able to pour all of the beef broth into a single container, but it will expand, and it may crack the container.
Another reason why it is impractical to freeze the beef broth in a single container is that you will have to defrost the whole thing in a single bowl. Therefore portion the beef broth and freeze each portion in an individual container.
The fourth step is to choose the right containers. Of course, they need to be airtight, but that’s not the only thing they need to be. The containers need to be a little larger so that they can fit a larger quantity than what you pour inside.
Because the beef broth expands while freezing, you need to use containers with more space so that it has where to go. Close the containers tightly and place them, ensuring nothing is pressing them down.
Frozen this way, your beef broth will be safe and sound for up to six months.
Can You Freeze Beef Stew in Freezer Bags?
Yes, you can freeze beef stew in freezer bags. However, if you can avoid doing this, you should. Freezer bags should be your last resort.
Since beef stew is liquid or, at least, soft, it needs a firm and stable container to keep it safe. Freezer bags are great for solid food but not so much for soft or liquid.
Also, freezing your beef stew in freezer bags makes it more difficult for you to handle it after defrosting. Things get messier this way, as you must squeeze the beef stew out of the freezer bag.
Still, if you do decide to use freezer bags, you need to let the beef stew cool down and portion it. You also need to be careful where you place the freezer bags. Do not put anything on top of them, and make sure they are flat-laid in the freezer, as tilting them may result in spillage.
Before pouring the beef stew into the freezer bags, check if they are damaged. Fill them with water and see if they have a nasty tiny hole.
How Long Does Beef Stew Last in the Freezer?
Beef stew lasts for a minimum of three months in the freezer, but often it is safe for up to six months. In the fridge, it will be good for up to a week.
How to Reheat Frozen Beef Stew?
Just like you shouldn’t freeze your beef stew straight from the stove, you cannot reheat it straight from the freezer. Before heating your beef stew, let it thaw in the fridge for about an hour.
The frozen beef stew will soften and become easier to handle. Pour the beef stew into a pot or a bowl and let it thaw for another 30 minutes before reheating.
Regardless of which appliance you use to reheat the beef stew, ensure you reheat it slowly and gradually. If you use the oven, don’t preheat it, but let the beef stew warm up as the oven heats up. Set the temperature to 150 °C, i.e., 80 °F, and heat up for about 15 minutes.
Check the beef stew and adjust the time accordingly.
If you reheat the beef stew in the microwave, make the first interval 30 seconds long and 10 seconds for each subsequent cycle.
If the stove is your weapon of choice, put the pot on the plate and reheat it slowly. Don’t preheat the plate, and stir slowly during the reheating process.
The starch and liquid may separate during the freezing if you reheat flour or starch-thickened beef stew. Therefore, you need to thaw the beef stew until they merge before reheating it.
Beef Stew Recipe
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ tsp ground pepper
- 1 lb beef stewing meat trimmed and cut into inch cubes
- 4 tsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ½ cup red wine
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 onion chopped
- 4 medium carrots cut into rounds
- 2 potatoes peeled and cut into cubes
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- Combine the flour and pepper in a bowl, add the beef and toss to coat well.
- Heat 4 teaspoons of the oil in a large pot.
- Add the beef a few pieces at a time; do not overcrowd. Cook, turning the pieces until beef is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch.
- Remove the beef from the pot and add the vinegar and wine.
- Cook over medium-high heat, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Add the beef, beef broth and tomato paste.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer.
- Cover and cook, skimming broth from time to time, until the beef is tender, about 1½ hours.
- Add the onions and carrots and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes more.
- Add broth or water if the stew is dry.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.