Can You Freeze Ribs?

by Charlie

Ribs are a popular part of the American cuisine. Whether its barbecue pork ribs or beef ribs, ribs can be cooked with many different recipes. Most often, a plate of ribs would go along nicely with delicious barbecue sauce on top. Ribs are an excellent addition on the menu for a cookout event with friends and family. 

If you’ll be having a party or some gathering that requires ribs to be served, you may want to stock up on some ribs. You may prefer to get pre-packaged rib cuts from the store or get them directly from your butcher – whichever you choose, make sure the meat is fresh. 

Now, what do you do with a bulk supply of your favorite rib cuts? 

Can you freeze ribs? Yes, you can freeze ribs. The freezer easily serves as a means of long-term preservation for your ribs. Freezing can safely preserve ribs for up to 12 months; although it is best to consume the ribs within the first 6 months of freezing. The ribs may be frozen along with the bones or you could shred the meat off the bones for better results.

There are also a couple of important details that you should be aware of when you’re freezing ribs. 

The packaging process is very important because it is needed to keep the meat from making any direct contact with cold freezer air. Items like plastic wrap and aluminum foil are best used for giving the ribs a layer or two of protective wrapping.    

This article contains the simplest steps you can follow when freezing a portion of ribs. Keep reading to know more.   

Freezing Ribs

Once you’ve bought your large or small portions of ribs, you can actually keep them preserved in the refrigerator. However, preservation in the fridge is only done if you’ll be using the ribs real soon. Fresh ribs are able to remain safe for about 3 – 5 days in the fridge. 

Those who purchase pre-packaged ribs from the store should look out for its best before date. It is better to purchase meat that still has a long time away from the best before date; besides, the freshest meat will give the best freezing results. 

With your freezer set to 0⁰F, you can keep you supply of ribs for up to 12 months. If you have a batch of leftover ribs from a cookout, or any other event, make sure that the meat isn’t hot when you want to freeze it. You may have also prepared some barbecue ribs with the intention of freezing a portion of it till a later date – make sure it’s also cooled before freezing. 

Also, you should never leave your cooked or uncooked ribs sitting at room temperature for over 2 hours. Bacteria growth increases fast at room temperature, and any portion of ribs left at that temperature will spoil beyond 2 hours. 

How to Freeze Ribs  

Freezing ribs isn’t a difficult process. However, it is important that you follow the right steps if you want the best results. 

Step 1: Let the Ribs Cool to Room Temperature  

If you have some excess portions of prepared barbecue ribs, you should allow it to cool down before placing in the freezer. Hot food will increase the freezer’s temperature and cause other food items in the freezer to repeatedly thaw and refreeze; which spoils them eventually. 

Let the ribs cool down to room temperature, but don’t let them remain at room temperature for over 2 hours. Temperatures between 40⁰F and 140⁰F facilitate the rapid growth of bacteria that spoils food.  

Step 2: Wrap the Ribs in Plastic Wrap or Aluminum Foil   

Store-bought ribs would normally come in their own packaging. You should take the ribs out of that packaging and vacuum pack it for safe keeping in the freezer. You may decide to shred the meat off cooked barbecue ribs before wrapping it up for freezer storage. 

I would like to advise you to wrap your ribs in smaller individual portions that can be finished at once. Doing so will reduce the chances of being left with excess portions of ribs that need refreezing after being thawed. 

Grab your plastic wrap or aluminum foil and cover the ribs in a single or double protective layer. Poor wrapping will expose the ribs to cold freezer air and cause freezer burn.   

Step 3: Vacuum Pack the Ribs and Label  

After wrapping the ribs in protective material, grab a freezer-safe bag. The freezer-safe bag further shields the meat from harmful freezer air. Transfer the wrapped portions of rib into the bag and prepare to vacuum as much air as possible out of it. 

If you have a vacuum sealing machine at home, you can make use of that. Those who do not have a machine at home can make use of a straw. Simply push the straw into the bag through a small opening and suck out as much air as you can. After that, proceed to seal off the bag quickly before air can escape back into the plastic freezer bag.   

Using a marker, label the freezer-safe bag with the present date.  

How to Thaw and Reheat Frozen Ribs 

One of the best methods of defrosting frozen is ribs is to keep the ribs in a fridge. Because this method can take several hours, it I best to do it overnight. Simply take the ribs out of the freezer and leave it in the fridge overnight. 

After the meat has thawed, you’ll need to reheat before consuming it. You can add some broth to regain some of the ribs original moist and juicy texture. Preheat the oven to a temperature of 250⁰F and get the ribs ready in aluminum foil wrapping. 

Place the wrapped ribs in the oven and let them heat to a temperature of 165⁰F – this should only take a few minutes.  

How to Tell if Ribs Have Gone Bad

When ribs are exposed to room temperature for more than 2 hours, they’ll go bad. It is best to discard of such meat immediately. Spoiled barbecue pork ribs or beef ribs will have an off smell. When you touch the ribs, there’s a good chance that it will also feel slimy. In addition to all that, there may also be a visible change in color.   

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