Not all food items can be put in a freezer, but the ones that can should be frozen when possible. Fortunately, one of the most freezer-friendly kinds of food is meat. Actually, there are benefits to freezing meat, including:
- Prevents spoilage by stopping harmful microorganisms from turning the meat bad.
- Helps save money by preventing food waste and allowing bulk purchases to be stored for later use.
- Allows the refrigerator section to have more room for foods that can’t be frozen (creamy dairy products, watery fruits and vegetables, or anything else that could get soggy and gross).
- Doesn’t compromise the nutritional value of the meat.
So, if you’ve got glorious slabs of uncooked ribs that you don’t want to waste or are saving to cook for another day, you’re in luck.
Trying to figure out how to freeze uncooked ribs is a smart thought. Uncooked ribs freeze beautifully and can be cooked to tasty perfection when the time is right.
Before you freeze uncooked ribs, there are a few things to consider.
What Kind of Ribs Are You Freezing?
If you were to walk up to a butcher’s counter and ask for ribs, the first question that may get bounced back to you is “what kind?”.
When you go to the meat department of any grocery store, look carefully at the selections. You’ll notice that there are different cuts of ribs and different types of rib meat.
One of the most popular types of rib cuts are pork ribs. In fact, pork ribs account for 21 percent (including chops and roasts) of the types of pork meat that most people buy.
Wallet-wise, this makes a lot of sense. Pork is one of the least expensive meats on the market, allowing consumers to buy bulk cuts for a lot less money. Tummy-wise, it doesn’t hurt that pork ribs can be absolutely delicious.
If you’ve gone to a cookout or had dinner where ribs are the main entree, the odds are very high that those ribs were pork. Different cuts of pork ribs include:
- Loin, Baby Back, or Back Ribs
- Rib Tips
- St. Louis Style Ribs
There is a reason that you will find a healthy supply of pork ribs available during traditional holiday seasons all over the world.
Typically, holiday meals take longer to prepare and pork is a tasty meat that is highly associated with a low-and-slow cooking approach, ribs included. When cooking pork ribs, it generally takes hours to yield a chef-level dish for this very reason
You’ll find that few people will complain when those ribs are properly cooked. So, whether you celebrate holidays or not, when you see plentiful supplies of ribs in the meat section, a special occasion is afoot.
Commemorate the day or don’t. Grab the pork ribs, freeze them and cook them later anyway. Pork isn’t the only type of meat that can be frozen for succulent ribs.
Almost as popular as pork, beef ribs are another option for you to consider freezing. Beef is a go-to choice for people that take barbecuing very seriously.
If you know someone that considers themselves a pitmaster and they’re cooking & seasoning ribs, don’t be surprised if it’s beef. The flavor of beef is different from pork, so choosing beef ribs is really a matter of personal preference and taste.
Cows are much bigger than pigs, so beef ribs are always bigger, packing a lot more meat than pork ribs.
There are three essential cuts of beef ribs:
- Back Ribs
- Short Ribs (also called Plate Short Ribs)
- Chuck Short Ribs
Back beef ribs will be the smaller cut of the beef options. Depending on your freezer, keep in mind that when choosing beef ribs, you will need more storage space than you would with pork ribs.
In the U.S., lamb is not as widespread a rib option as pork or beef. However, it is extremely popular in other parts of the world – especially in countries where lamb is a major meat staple.
Still, it is still a viable and tasty option for freezing if you like the taste of lamb.
Lamb ribs without the bones are made from the belly or breast portion of the sheep. The other option you can choose is the large connected portion of ribs, commonly known as a lamb rack.
Remember that when you freeze it, you should consider how much space your freezer has because racks of lamb can take up a lot of room.
The Process of Freezing Uncooked Ribs
After you bring the uncooked ribs to your kitchen, you’ll want to freeze the meat as soon as you can. Doing it quickly will help the meat keep its moisture content intact.
If you are pressed for space, try removing any unnecessary fat or bones from the meat. However, keep in mind that fat also imparts great flavor to the ribs when you cook them.
If you can, invest in freezer-proof containers or packaging. You’ll want to limit air pockets when freezing the ribs so that the meat doesn’t get freezer burn (like shrimp, ice cream and other foods).
Freezer plastic wrap and freezer paper are fantastic because both hug the meat closely, preventing excess air and ice crystals from forming around the ribs. Airtight and properly wrapped keeps uncooked ribs safer in the freezer.
Should You Add Salt and Other Seasonings Before Freezing?
Despite what some people may believe, certain meats, such as pork, are not naturally salty. However, you should not add salt to fresh meat, like uncooked ribs, before you freeze it.
Adding salt can actually speed up the degradation process of the ribs’ composition, even when it’s frozen. So, wait to add salt and other seasonings after you pull the ribs out of the freezer.
How Long Can Uncooked Ribs Stay Frozen?
Uncooked pork ribs can be left in the freezer for up to six months if packaged correctly. Uncooked lamb ribs can stay in the freezer anywhere from six to nine months.
Uncooked beef ribs have the longest freezer shelf life and can be frozen for up to a year.
Using these tips, you should be able to take your uncooked ribs out of the freezer, thaw them, cook them to perfection and enjoy one of the most sumptuous cuts of meat on the planet.