If you buy a steak, how long can it be frozen RAW in an airtight container and still keep well (taste and texture) in the freezer? VERSUS?
I am going to take the last part of your question first as that is the easiest. Freezing in as large a portion as possible is best. This is because there is less of the product exposed to the air. Even wrapping it if you take 1 steak and wrap it you have top, bottom and sides. Cutting it in half you now have double the surface that you are trying to protect. The more you cut the more surfaces to protect. When you freeze a piece of cooked food when you heat it up you will be driving off more moisture and essentially cooking it again so your medium rare steak will be medium or medium well by the time it is heated through. Less moisture = drier Reheating might be fine if you are going to be using the left over, frozen roast for a soup, hash or other dish where there will be other components that will add moisture. But if you want to serve that roast as a roast it will be drier and maybe tougher. It might be perfectly fine if you are going to slice it for sandwiches though. The frozen raw meat and the frozen cooked meat should have the same "shelf life" in the freezer it is the quality of the product once it is take from the freezer and you do with it what you are going to do. But properly re-heated the cooked meat should be just fine. If you take a look at the frozen meals most have sauces that help retain moisture. There are no frozen meals that have a steak as a solid piece in the package. There is sliced beef, Salisbury steaks, meatloaf but not "steak". I just do not think it will re-heat well, evenly giving a good result.
heart o' gold
Both will be fine for 3-6 months in a proper freezer with NO air at all inside packaging. The more air in the package, the faster the meat will be not good. I buy frozen New Zealand steaks from Trader Joe’s that are commercially packed, I’m sure some of them have been in my freezer for 6 months and I have never ever had one not be excellent. My preference would be to freeze the raw meat, then thaw, cook and eat it. To cook and then freeze...it won’t be quite so good when you eat it.
Supermarket meats are shipped frozen. Re-freezing them after they have been thawed for your convince in the store is the problem. They have already had some of their cell walls broken, like how cryogenics will never work. So you just keep beating the crap out of them if you freeze them again, thaw and cook, then freeze the stew leftover, etc. All but the most boutique butcher who has a shrink budget of 30%, i.e., $12/lb chuck comes pre-frozen and thawed. We are used to the conventional system, taste-wise and frankly it works given established economical scales (aka I dare you to pay $50 for every meal). So anything other than cooked from "raw" as you know it and eaten then will be dragged through the mud 10 times over crap.
A lot depends on where you freeze it and what you wrapped it in. Ideally any raw meat should be wrapped in freezer paper and frozen at 0 degrees or lower. That means not the fridge freezer which doesn't usually get cold enough. Raw meat, wrapped tightly in a deep freezer will last a year or more without any change in flavor or quality. Cooked is another story. I have never frozen cooked meats for long term so maybe someone else has the answer to that one.
First, I've had bad luck with freezing cooked meats. It kinda works, but you usually have to sauce them or add some kind of moisture to make them really right. I've had great luck with freezing raw meats, and letting them thaw naturally (put them on a heavy griddle or skillet at room temperature). I vacuum seal any meat I freeze, unless it's already packaged vacuum sealed. Using this process, I've eaten steaks that were frozen three years ago, and they couldn't have been better. These were in our seasonal home, and somehow got overlooked for a couple of summers. My choice is a Food Saver brand, and it just works (as long as the electric power doesn't go down, but that's another story).
Freezing any good cut of meat- raw or cooked- should be a crime.