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Beef Tenderloin - a bit of a disappointment.

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Back when whole tenderloins were on sale for $3.99 US, I bought an extra one and froze it to see how it would hold up. They came sealed in plastic (cryovac I think is the name for that packaging.) I thawed one out today and as before, I cut several slices out of the middle to cook like fillets. They had been frozen since November for a total of about 3 months and there was no sign whatsoever of deterioration.

I prepared them with cracked black pepper, garlic and some peanut oil and seared them in a cast iron pan, leaving them fairly rare. The ones I prepared fresh like this were really tender. These were a little chewy. It's possible that I just got a tougher piece of beef, but I'm more inclined to blame the freezing process. I know that cooking beef well can toughen it and I wonder if freezing results in similar results.

I put the rest of the beef in a mini-WSM and smoked with box elder, black walnut and a little hickory and mesquite. It took 2 hours to get to 142° whereupon I took it out and it's resting. Here are pictures before it went on and after it came out (prior to resting.)

I'll be curious to see how this comes out compared to the tenderloins I prepared fresh. If it's chewy like the fillets, I probably won't freeze beef again.

Edit: Update with picture of beef after it has rested about an hour:

post #2 of 12
Wow it looks fantastic!
Sure looks tender.
I freeze a lot of meat and have never had an issue. Never beef tenderloin, but I have had venison backstraps frozen for over 6 months and it seems just as tender as when cooked fresh.
I would have to guess, like you mentioned, it was that particular piece and not the freezing, but I could be wrong.
post #3 of 12
$3.99! What year or maybe I should ask what decade! Anyway, don't blame the freezer.

post #4 of 12
I buy on sale and freeze meat a lot and I don't find that freezing it makes it tough. I agree with Bigslick and think it may have been that particular piece of meat
post #5 of 12
All my beef is frozen solid when I get it from the processors. Never had an issue with tenderness. Doesn't matter if its thawed as soon as it gets home and cooked or left frozen for 9 mos. and then done up. Still good. I've never had cryopac beef so I first gotta wonder about that. Second, tenderloin at that price makes me wonder what kind of animal it originally came from. An old hamburger bull will have gravy you have to grind to chew, not to mention the cuts of meat.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi folks,
Thanks for the info. I actually bought three of these. And the first one was $2.99/lb. I bought them about a week apart from the same store. The first and last I prepared w/out freezing and they were both so tender I could cut them with a fork. The middle one is the one I froze to save for later and it is not as tender. So price doesn't seem to have anything to do with it. Since they came from the same store and the same packaging, and the other two were so tender, I expected the same form this one. I guess if I hadn't had the other two, I wouldn't be disappointed about this one.

post #7 of 12
We have a place that sells tenderloin once a year for $3.99-$4.99 a lb if you buy the whole loin. I have done two years in a row and have eaten right away and later on after freezing. I have not been impressed. It tastes gamey and not good at all. Won't be doing it again.

I get fresh cut from butcher or sams at $8.99lb and it's all good. Guess you get what you pay for... An old horse for $4 or decent Filet at $9...

Just my .02 cents

post #8 of 12
I too purchased whole tenderloin for around $4 a lb. and was not happy with what i got. I actually viewed these for several months (they are that price everyday at one local store) before i decided to purchase one. I will definitely fork out the extra dough for a better piece of meat.
post #9 of 12
As you well know, liquid expands when it freezes. When that liquid is encased inside a cell wall, when it freezes it will expand and rupture the cell wall. When the liquid thaws as well as the cell, the liquid will seep out of the cell that would normally encase it. This is the liquid you find on your plate after thawing a piece of meat (it's called 'purge'). So, freezing and thawing definitely has a detrimental effect on the quality of meat of any kind, be it beef, pork, chicken, lamb, squirrel, bobcat, alligator, werewolf (sorry, just watched "Wolf Man" at the theater, lol!). Loss of internal cell moisture makes the meat drier, less juicy. Heat will not pass from liquid to liquid as easily. Breakdown of connective tissue slows. Final result: meat is drier, less moist, less tenderized by breakdown and likewise 'tougher'. This is overcome to some extent by the marbling (internally threaded fat lines between cells) of the meat, as it supplants the juiciness and tenderness of the cells as it renders out. Cuts such as round, tenderloin, etc. have little marbling in some cases, making them drier, if culled from less fatted and penned animals, such as free range beef that is driven hard and meager granging (New Zealand, Australian beef is a good example). Cutter and Canner grade, tenderloins from them are sometimes akin to eye rounds instead.
So, many factors supplant tenderness, not just freezing. The cheaper price of the tenderloins lead me to believe they were cut from lower graded beef, then freezing and thawing had it's detrimental effect amplified by the lower quality of beef and less marbling; all factors resulting in tougher and drier meat overall.

Here's a link explaining a lot of this for you:


with picture examples also.
post #10 of 12
Freezing meat actually helps to tenderize it, through expansion and contraction.
post #11 of 12
true, but the break down from freezing is very small, theres a larger factor going on there it could have been injected with a tenderizer.
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Wow! Interesting site. Did you know that you should not use a shotgun to collect the herd?

I did not know that!

I also saw that beef prices are at their lowest in the annual cycle in November and that's when I bought these. I'll also refute the claims that these were in any way inferior. They were very good. Just not as good after being frozen.

Thanks all for the additional comments.
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