Can You Season Meat Before Cooking? (Days Before & Freezing)

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Here we will take a look at what happens when meat of any kind is seasoned a day before and kept in the refrigerator (or longer). We will also see what happens when meat is seasoned and then frozen. There is a such thing as marinating raw meat to give it more flavor and a juicy texture (brining). This is similar to seasoning the meat for an extended period of time, but without actually adding the meat seasoning directly to the meat.

However, here we will see what the results are for adding seasoning directly to meat for an extended period of time. Some might think that doing so will yield the same results as it would if it wasn’t, but it actually doesn’t sometimes. Since salt is a soluble, it is able to dissolve into the meat when moisture is present. It doesn’t take long for this to happen when the meat is cooking, but it does take some time when it is just sitting on the surface of the meat.

Can meat be seasoned before cooking?

Yes. Meat can certainly be seasoned before cooking without ruining it.

Pre-seasoned meat.

This is chicken that has been seasoned days before it was supposed to be cooked by a grocery store. They did this in advance for individuals that don’t know how to season chicken to the right amount needed to make it taste good. I bought the chicken, cooked it, and ate it. It wasn’t bad at all. The chicken had been set to be seasoned like this in the package for about 4 days. This is the same time that other experts say that meat should be seasoned for, to enhance its flavor and to tenderize the meat.

Other experts agree that seasoning the meat with salt for 4 or 5 days would make the meat more tender, and enhance its flavor after it was cooked. They say that it should be seasoned and then refrigerated after it is seasoned. It should be placed into a container with a lid on it, instead of wrapped in plastic wrap. However, I found no difference in placing the seasoned meat in a container, or wrapping it in plastic wrap.

Also, seasoning the meat with salt prior to refrigerating the meat helps to preserve it, as this is what salt does to meat besides making it more tender. When the meat is seasoned, it should be seasoned with the same amount of seasoning that you would if intending to cook and eat it. Don’t put on piles of it as if you are trying to kill it with salt.

Can you season meat before freezing it?

Yes. Not only can meat be seasoned before it is placed in the refrigerator, but it can be frozen afterwards too. To confirm this, I decided to test it myself to see what the results were after I refrigerated seasoned meat.

The meat had the same amount of seasonings that it would if it was intended to be cooked on the spot. The meat was seasoned prior to freezing it, and it was placed in the freezer until it was frozen. The meat had to be thawed prior to freezing it so that the seasoning stuck to the meat while it was wet.

Seasoned frozen meat.
Seasoned frozen meat.

After the meat was frozen, it was removed from the freezer and cooked. This same experiment was done with refrigerated meat first, then the same meat type was eaten. The refrigerated meat came out delicious, tender, and juicy. After the frozen meat was cooked, it came out more tender than the refrigerated meat to my surprise. The meat was so tender that it almost felt as if was going to melt in my mouth.

seasoned frozen meat cooked
Cooked meat pre-seasoned before freezing.

It didn’t have any changes to how juicy it was, it was just a lot more noticeable tender than the refrigerated meat. At first it appeared as if it would be dry, since it didn’t have juice seeping from it while it was cooking like the refrigerated meat did. The juice was still there though, just locked away in the meat, which is probably why the seasoned frozen meat had more tenderness. Once the frozen seasoned meat was opened after it was cooked and ready to eat, the juice started sneaking its way out. The cooking times for the frozen meat and the refrigerated meat were the same times. Both had the same flavor from being pre-seasoned before cooking.

Meat that is seasoned before freezing can be wrapped or placed into a container with the lid on it.

Can you season steak before refrigerating/freezing it?

Steak can be seasoned before it is refrigerated to give it a wonderful crust after it is cooked on a grill. This is called dry brining. It makes the outer layer of the steak brown more easily.

Individuals that are using sous vide (vacuum sealing their steak, then cooking it in water), find this method useful since it saves them time when they buy a lot of meat at once. They buy their steak, season the steak, then vacuum seal the steak before freezing it to sous vide later.

Individuals that haven’t actually tried seasoning the steak before freezing it theory that the steak will be more tough and chewy if it is done this way. However, individuals that have done it, say that it doesn’t actually effect the quality of the steak as much, either in a good way or a bad way. They find it more convenient to season the steak first, then freeze it for later.

Another thing, meat is always pre-seasoned and frozen in grocery stores all the time. This can be seen by simply going down the frozen foods section. All of the frozen foods are pre-seasoned and frozen, including the meats that are there. A lot of them contain excellent flavors, texture, and even some juiciness when they are reheated.

Not to mention the flavor that is held in the meat that we save after cooking and saving the leftovers. Brining and marinating meats are also examples of meat that has been, and can be, seasoned before they are refrigerated or frozen. Some meats are brined, then refrigerated, and some meats are marinated while they are refrigerated.

Refrigeration doesn’t effect the quality of meats, since they have to be refrigerated anyways to maintain their freshness if they are seasoned. Freezing the meat may be a little different, but its prime job is to keep meats fresh for years to come, not ruin the food in most cases.

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