Oxtail is a unique cut of meat that was originally prized for its cheapness. Now that the price has increased as the ingredient is becoming more beloved, you’ll likely find yourself reticent to throw any away… So, what’s the best way to store it?
Can You Freeze Oxtail?
Yes, you can freeze oxtail for a long time. If it’s fresh and uncooked, you can wrap the oxtail in airtight packaging, before freezing for an almost indefinite period. If it’s cooked in a stew, it can be frozen in an airtight container for up to three months.
Does Oxtail Freeze Well? Yes
Can You Refreeze Oxtail? No
How to Freeze Oxtail
When it comes to freezing oxtail, you have two options. You can either freeze whole pieces of oxtail, uncooked or you can freeze cooked oxtail in a soup or stew. The methods for each are different so we’ve covered them both for you below:
How to Freeze Uncooked Oxtail Pieces
If you’ve managed to bulk buy chunks of oxtail then, chances are, you won’t use it all before it goes off. So, here’s our method for freezing pieces of oxtail:
- Clean: Wash and trim the oxtail, making sure that there’s no dirt or detritus to the meat. A butcher should be happy to do this for you before you purchase it.
- Wrap: Wrap the oxtail in baking paper or butcher’s paper tightly, ensuring that it’s well wrapped, with no gaps around it.
- Seal Further: Around the paper, seal with several layers of foil – this will prevent too much air from being close to the meat, which would lead to freezer burn.
- Label and Freeze: When it’s completely wrapped with no gaps or openings, label the package with the contents and the date you’re adding it to the freezer, before placing it in the freezer.
Fresh meat should store indefinitely when kept below -18C/0F. In the real world, though, we would recommend storing for a maximum of six months.
How to Freeze Oxtail Soup or Stew
If you’ve made a stew or soup, then this is the method to use. If the stew isn’t at room temperature, allow it to cool before sealing to prevent condensation within the tubs then you can freeze:
- Prepare Containers: Oxtail soup or stew can be stored just like any other beef stew or soup, so a good first step is to prepare as many clean containers as you’ll need for what you’ll be freezing.
- Portion Out: Then, decant the stew into the containers that you’ve prepared, ensuring that each container has a small amount of headroom to allow it to expand a little.
- Seal: Seal the tubs all the way around the rim, pressing out excess air if you can. Then, when sealed, double-wrap the containers in foil to prevent air from causing freezer burn.
- Label and Freeze: Label the containers, and place them in your freezer – they’ll keep fine for up to three months.
3 Tips for Freezing Oxtail
Now you know how to freeze it, we’ve got our 3 top tips which we strongly recommend following when freezing oxtail to have the best results:
Fresh Oxtail Freezes for Months!
Fresh oxtail meat should freeze very well, potentially indefinitely if it’s kept below -18C/0F. Despite that, we’d still recommend storing frozen tail for a maximum of six months.
Start With Baking Paper
Make sure that the first layer touching meat that you freeze is baking paper, butcher’s paper, or something similar – foil can lead to moisture collecting in one spot, which can lead to spoilage. Butcher’s paper will not.
Expect Some Fat to Separate
After being frozen, a layer of fat may separate from the oxtail stew and rise to the surface. In that situation, you can either scoop off the layer of fat or mix it into the rest of the stew when it’s all reheated.
How Long Can You Freeze Oxtail?
Oxtail can be frozen for quite a while just like all meat. Oxtail soups and stews can be frozen for three months or so. It freezes for this long because the other ingredients in the soup make the mixture liable to freezer burn, which will degrade the food.
In theory, plain oxtail meat can be frozen indefinitely – provided the freezer is kept below -18C/0F, and the temperature doesn’t fluctuate very much.
Since domestic freezers can fluctuate quite a lot, we would recommend not freezing plain oxtail for that long – a six-month maximum is sensible.
How Do You Defrost Oxtail?
To defrost oxtail in soups and stews, remove the lid from the container and microwave it on high power for minute intervals until the mixture is steaming hot all the way through – that is when it is safe to eat since any bacteria will have been killed.
To defrost oxtail meat, the best bet is to defrost it in a colander in your sink overnight, or over a long period of time. When the meat is at room temperature, it should be cooked until steaming hot throughout to ensure it’s safe to eat.
Can You Refreeze Oxtail?
Yes, you can… Sort of!
Throughout this article, we’ve been talking about freezing oxtail when it’s in the form of a stew or soup and in an uncooked form.
If you have frozen fresh oxtail, thawed it and then cooked it into a stew or soup that you then want to freeze then this form of refreezing is fine.
If, however, you have thawed uncooked oxtail and decided you don’t want it then we would err on the side of caution when refreezing it. The same can be said for a stew that has been thawed.
Does Oxtail Freeze Well?
Oxtail freezes very well! The thing that typically makes foodstuffs not freeze well is the water content, and oxtail doesn’t contain much if any, nascent water.
For that reason, the chemical and molecular structure of the oxtail isn’t damaged during the freezing process, leading to meat that freezes well.
If you’ve still got questions about freezing oxtail or oxtail in general, then these may help:
Uncooked pieces of oxtail can only be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days or up to the use-by date, whichever comes sooner. Freezing it will allow you to keep it for months and months.
Yes, both oxtail soup and stew can be frozen. Once cooled, portion it out into Tupperware containers, seal and freeze. Make sure you write a clear label on each container.
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