frozen vs fresh brisket

Discussion in 'Meat Selection and Processing' started by up musky hunter, Aug 24, 2015.

  1. I need to smoke a brisket in a few weeks for a birthday party. In the past, I have always used a fresh brisket but due to some business travel, I will not be home in time to pick up a fresh brisket. I can get one now, freeze it, and then move it to the refrigerator for a slow thaw having it ready when I get home.

    Question is - Is there a loss of flavor; issue of tender vs tough; or other issues if I use a previously frozen brisket?

  2. smokerjim

    smokerjim Meat Mopper

    i wouldn't worry to much about using a frozen one,go with it, my opinion is you won't tell the difference.
  3. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    How long will it have to sit? If you buy a cryvoc untrimmed whole brisket it can stay in its packaging for up to 4 weeks from the packing date. Just make sure you look before you buy. The last one I bought didn't have the packing date on it. 
  4. I am guessing my window to buy will be 7-10 days from the actual time I can get it on the smoker.
  5. trippy

    trippy Smoke Blower

    If you ask Arron Franklin he says freezing a brisket wrecks them. Makes them tougher then fresh to the smoker.  He has videos on how to check to see if they are fresh or have been frozen. If fresh they are pliable and will double over easy. If they have been previously frozen they don't want to double over easy. This also could be something about fat content becoming hard. If you have a store that gets brisket in talk to the butcher and have him order in a fresh choice brisket for the day before you want to smoke it. Even if he has it in the cooler for a day or so prior you will be fine. For as much brisket Arron Franklin does I think he would know best.

    I would be more inclined to cook a brisket and then freeze it to reheat it later. 

    Now if you have no other choice you have to live with how it is. You might be able to do the texas crutch on it to over come the toughness you created with freezing.  I don't know... I am going to do 2 briskets here soon for a party and plan on fresh.

    One other thing you could do is Dry Age it for a week too. You would have quite a bit off trim off. I have heard of some tasty stuff coming from dry aging meat.  Not something I would try for a party on my first try if it was me.
  6. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I'm sorry but I have to disagree with this. I would never want a brisket that was just cut and packed the day before. Brisket that is vac sealed whole will wet age in the packaging. Since you reference Franklin, in his book he says he prefers brisket about 3 weeks after it is packed. 
  7. Thanks Trippy - that is all good counsel. I'll do some research on Aaron as well. My goal is to go for fresh, but timing could be an issue.

    Thanks again.
  8. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    As I mentioned in previous posts, with your 7-10 day window you should be fine if you can confirm the packed on date and stay in the 3 week window from packing to cooking. In fact, that window will actually help age the meat and give you a better brisket. 
  9. trippy

    trippy Smoke Blower

    Just so you know. Most good butchers have hung beef for more then a week and up to 3 weeks prior to being cut. Now if you feel you need wet aged longer thats a personal choice. Dry aging is another choice too. Given that said there is hardly ever a cryovac piece of meat that hits the butcher/retailer in much less then a week from the time it left the butcher house. Thats just common transportation time from where shipped to where it gets warehoused to final deliveries. That would give any of your bagged beef at least 2 to 5 weeks aging.  I will not denie aging beef can help with flavor and tenderness. But it comes at a cost too. The loss of weight and significant trimmings. There is many that say wet aging of beef does not increases flavor or tenderness of the beef to any large degree like dry aging. 

    Your reference that that I was saying get a fresh cut off the slaughter was mistaken for retail butcher. I was only saying its better to get a cut that is not weeks at the store. Get a fresh pack that come in to the store so you have time to do as you need. I would not leave a cryovaced meat wet aging in my fridge for more then 2 or 3 days. Temp is critical on them and opening and closing the fridge makes that hard to maintain. 
  10. humdinger

    humdinger Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Another good tip from Aaron Franklin's book (I'm currently reading it now) is if the packing date is not found on the cryovac packaging, it should be located on the box the brisket was shipped in. Asked the butcher to check the box assuming they still have it.
  11. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    UP Musky, to answer your question, you may freeze the brisket (just start the thaw at least 3 days ahead of time) with no side effects at all, or if you have room in the fridge and you are cooking it within 2 to 3 weeks from purchase, just leave it in the fridge.  Either way you will be fine.  If it does wet age for a couple weeks, there might be a little off smell when you cut open the cryovac, that's ok, just rinse it off, trim any brown areas off and get it cooking. 

    All the above points have their merit concerning Franklin and his thoughts on brisket and cooking, and I fully respect him for his knowledge and what he has done to elevate the popularity of BBQ these past few years, but keep in mind that a large part of his brisket success comes from cooking high quality, aged beef, Prime beef that is, and cooking it right every time.  He has also had another great Texas pitmaster that worked under him as his night guy prior to going out on his own, John Lewis of La BBQ.   

    I cook competitions and when I buy my Prime briskets from the same supplier Franklin does, I do not age them, as they have already been aged, but I do freeze them.  These briskets have already been flash frozen and shipped to me in dry ice as well.  If I buy from local supermarkets when I find a good deal on Primes or find just that right, can't pass up Choice, I'll throw it in the extra fridge for up to 28 days to age, then freeze.  Wet aging can turn a decent brisket into a great brisket, much more tender and flavorful.  Dry aging takes a bit more effort and daily dedication, but is also worth it for those that can spend the time caring for meat.  
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2015
    up musky hunter and trippy like this.
  12. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Studies have found that there is Insignificant to No Differences in tenderness between Frozen and Never Frozen Beef using the Warner-Bratzler Shear Force test parameters. The Longissimus Thoracis (LT) is the Eye Muscle of the Rib Subprimal. the Longissimus Lumborum (LL) is Strip Loin Eye side of the Strip Loin Subprimal and the Glutius Medius (GM) is the largest muscle in the Sirloin Subprimal. Granted, this was tested on Wet Aged, all relatively tender cuts to start with, but it is likely there would be similar results with Brisket..JJ

    Details of the study...

    The objective of this study was to evaluate processing methods for frozen beef subprimals; the effects of freezing and thawing rates on tenderness, sensory properties, and retail display were evaluated. There were 6 treatments: fresh, never frozen 14 d wet aged (14D); fresh, never frozen 21 d wet aged (21D); blast frozen–fast thawed (BF); blast frozen–slow thawed (BS); conventionally frozen–fast thawed (CF); and conventionally frozen–slow thawed (CS). All frozen beef subprimals were aged for 14 d before freezing. Three beef subprimal cuts, rib eye roll (n  = 90), strip loin (n  = 90), and top sirloin butt (n  = 90), were used with 3 replications of 5 samples per treatment per week (total of 9 wk, n  = 270). Blast freezing occurred by placing spacers between the boxes of meat on pallets at −28°C with high air velocity for 3 to 5 d. Conventional freezing occurred with boxes of meat stacked on pallets and placed in a −28°C freezer with minimal air movement for at least 10 d. Fast thawing of subprimals (to an internal temperature of −1°C to 1°C) occurred by immersion in a circulating water bath (<12°C) for 21 h, and slow thawing of subprimals occurred over a 2-wk period by placing individual subprimals on tables at 0°C. Steaks (2.5 cm thick) were cut from the longissimus thoracis (LT), longissimus lumborum (LL), and gluteus medius (GM) for Warner-Bratzler shear force (WBS), trained sensory evaluation, and retail display. For LL and GM beef steaks, frozen treatments were equal or lower in WBS values to 14D and 21D beef steaks. No differences were detected in WBS among the treatments applied to GM beef steaks (P  = 0.08). There were no differences in sensory tenderness among the LL, LT, and GM (P  > 0.05). All LL and LT beef steaks had approximately 4 d to 40% discoloration, and all GM steaks had over 3 d to 40% discoloration. Steaks from the LL and LT began to discolor at about 3 d, and the GM began to discolor after 1 d. For all beef subprimals, purge loss during storage and thawing was significantly greater for the slow-thawed subprimals (P  < 0.01), and all fast-thawed subprimals were equal or superior to 14D and 21D (P  < 0.01) in storage and thawing purge. During retail display, the greatest purge loss occurred in fast-thawed treatments (P  < 0.01). Overall, freezing rate did not affect purge loss, and neither freezing nor thawing rates had significant meaningful effects on WBS, and sensory properties were comparable with fresh, never-frozen subprimals.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2015
  13. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    Thanks for the info Chef...
  14. WOW - I am amazed at the broad range of knowledge on this board. I appreciate all of it. Just knowing there are good viable options when purchase time is an issue helps a bunch.

    Thanks for all the good advice. Much appreciated.

Share This Page