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Can You Freeze Pastrami? – The Best Way

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If you love a good sandwich, you are most likely familiar with pastrami. It’s a delicious meat that is added to many specialty sandwiches but can be used for a lot of different things. Maybe you’re a fan of pastrami on rye or a good California pastrami sandwich. 

No matter what you choose to do with your pastrami, you need to know what your options are when it comes to storing it properly. There are several things to know for proper storage, particularly if you need a long-term storage option. 

Can you freeze pastrami? Yes, you can freeze pastrami for up to 3 months. The longer the pastrami is in the freezer, the more likely it is to start drying out. Dry pastrami is perhaps the biggest challenge to avoid. However, if you are careful about wrapping and sealing it tightly, you can freeze pastrami successfully.

In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know in order to freeze your pastrami. You can freeze it whole or cut, depending on what you have. We think you will be pleasantly surprised at just how simple it is to freeze pastrami

Keep reading to learn how to freeze pastrami and more. 

A Complete Guide to Freezing Pastrami

Pastrami is red meat that originated in Romanian culture. You can make your own pastrami at home quite easily using corned beef or beef brisket.

The end result of pastrami tastes and looks quite a bit like corned beef, but it also has some sweet and savory flavors.

When pastrami is made, it typically comes from a beef brisket but it also can be made from turkey or lamb.

When the meat is cut, it is brined and then partially dried and seasoned. Once it has aged slightly with the seasoning, it is smoked and steamed to create pastrami. 

What’s the difference between pastrami and corned beef? Don’t be fooled by the comparison to corned beef. Pastrami is not corned beef. They are prepared from slightly different cuts and they are also cooked in different ways. Corned beef is boiled while pastrami is smoked.

Let’s talk about how to freeze pastrami properly and then we can move on to some other information. 

Proper Freezer Storage of Pastrami

If you make your own pastrami at home, we recommend that you freeze it without cutting it. Or, if you need to cut into it, you can just cut off what you need and leave the remaining portion whole and uncut. 

On the same note, it won’t hurt it if it is cut or if you purchased cut pastrami. The good news is that you can freeze it either way and it will freeze just fine.

We have found that freezing uncut pastrami makes it less likely to dry out in the freezer. If it is cut, just be sure to get it wrapped tightly. 

If your pastrami is cut, this is a prime opportunity to split it into portions so that when you pull some out of the freezer, you only have to pull out what is needed at the time. 

Freezing pastrami requires a double-wrap method. Here are our recommended steps for the process:

  1. Start by wrapping the pastrami tightly in plastic wrap. Be sure to use a plastic wrap that is graded as freezer-safe. Most plastic wrap options are made for the freezer but there are some that aren’t. Your food requires freezer protection so take a look at your box to be sure. 
  2. Once you have pre-wrapped the meat, place it into a heavy-duty freezer bag or an airtight container. We like these freezer bags because they are simple and designed for freezer storage. 
  3. Eliminate as much air as possible from your container or bag and seal it tightly. Getting it sealed is one of the most important steps of the process.
  4. Label and date your packaging. 
  5. Store pastrami in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

Please note that pastrami will stay good beyond the 3 months if properly stored. However, we share this timeframe as this is the maximum amount of time recommended for the best quality maintained. 

The key to having good pastrami after freezing it is to be sure it is double-wrapped and wrapped well. 

Now let’s discuss the pros and cons of freezing pastrami. 

Pros of Freezing Pastrami

  • A good way to store extra pastrami
  • Preserves pastrami for up to 3 months with good quality
  • Easy to use the pastrami once it has been frozen
  • Freezing is not overly complicated for pastrami
  • The flavor of the pastrami will still be great after it’s been frozen
  • You can freeze pastrami uncut or in cut portions (uncut is the best)

Cons of Freezing Pastrami

  • Pastrami can dry out in the freezer
  • 3 months is slightly limiting on time for freezing pastrami
  • Pastrami should be frozen within 1-3 days of making or purchasing for best results

As you can see, freezing pastrami is so easy. It’s also plenty simply to work with pastrami after the fact. The pros and cons of freezing pastrami show us that if you follow the process right, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. 

It is possible for your pastrami to dry out a bit in the freezer but if you follow these tips, you shouldn’t have any major issues. 

Let’s talk about storing your pastrami before or after the freezer. 

Proper Storage of Pastrami Outside of the Freezer

Pastrami should not be stored at room temperature for an extended length of time. It is fine to be at room temperature for short time periods, particularly while you are making sandwiches or serving sandwiches to your guests. 

The recommended time frame for pastrami being at room temperature is 2 hours or less. This is because it is meat and bacteria can grow on it and cause it to go bad or spoil. If your pastrami is left out for more than 2 hours, we recommend you go ahead and toss it out. 

If you’re not quite ready to freeze your pastrami, you can store it in the fridge for a few days. You can store pastrami in the fridge for 3-5 days.

If you are going to freeze your pastrami, be sure to do it before the 5th day. The sooner you decide to freeze it, the better it will be. 

Using Pastrami After Freezing

To wrap up this guide, we have some quick tidbits on how to handle your pastrami after you have frozen it. 

We aren’t going to get too deep into cooking it when it has been frozen but we have some basic information on how to handle pastrami when it has been frozen

When you remove it from the freezer, if you plan to cook it, you can boil it immediately.

Some instructions would tell you to boil it from frozen or even to toss the entire package into a large pot of boiling water. These are options for you. 

You can also put your pastrami in the fridge and let it defrost overnight. Your pastrami can still be used for cold cuts and sandwiches after it has been frozen so if you aren’t planning to cook it at this point, we recommend just thawing it in the fridge and then going from there. 

Once you thaw the pastrami, it should only be kept in the fridge for 3-5 days. We don’t recommend re-freezing pastrami after it has frozen and thawed once. 

Related Questions

We hope that you have found this guide to freezing pastrami to be a valuable resource with all of the relevant information that you need. It’s super simple to do and it freezes rather well if you do it correctly. 

We invite you to review the following question and answer section for some additional information that could be useful to you. 

Is Pastrami Unhealthy?

In terms of calories and fat, the pastrami is not considered bad for you. Pastrami is rather high in sodium but it also offers quite a bit of protein to your diet.

Pastrami is not considered bad for you when it is consumed in moderate portions. How you serve it can also make a difference. 

How Can You Tell When Pastrami is Bad?

The best way to determine whether your pastrami has spoiled is by smell and sight. If it smells off or has a strong, unpleasant odor, you should probably throw it out.

As far as looks go, if the meat is slimy, it is probably turning bad and should be thrown out. 

Does Homemade Pastrami Last the Same Amount of Time?

For the purposes of storage, both freezer and non-freezer, we recommend following the same guidelines laid out in this guide for both homemade and store-bought pastrami.

The processes should work the same. 

Up Next: Can You Freeze Swiss Cheese?

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