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I bought some meat to make a stew sometime in the future. Is it best to brown the meat before I freeze it, or should I freeze it raw?

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    If you brown it first, you've eliminated some options. What if you change your mind and decide to do kebabs instead of a stew? – John Feltz Dec 7 '16 at 19:50
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It might save you a few minutes when you decide to use it. Meat that has been frozen takes a bit longer to brown, since it will exude a bit more moisture.

But it's probably not worth it. Browning meat, then cooling it to freeze, is a huge hassle. Plus, you'll lose the fond on the bottom of your pan (unless you de-glaze and save that too.) That's a huge amount of flavor loss. You might as well just make the stew and freeze that (which is also good).

If you're going to freeze the meat, freeze it in the form that you got it. Defrost carefully (in the fridge, not the counter) and dry it thoroughly (e.g. paper towels) before browning.

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    Cooling to freeze is not huge hassle. – paparazzo Dec 7 '16 at 21:01
  • I guess compared to the hassle of browning meat at all, it's not. But it's yet another thing you have to do: take the meat, put it on a plate, let it sit out for at least 15 minutes, then put it in a container. I suppose you don't even have to do that: as long as it's not an enormous amount it'll get cool-enough-fast-enough in the freezer. But that does strike me as a way to get more freezer burn, as well as potential harm to the other things in the freezer. – Joshua Engel Dec 7 '16 at 21:19
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A single portion is not really worth it but a few possible advantages

  • You don't want to take the time to brown when it comes time to make the stew
  • Browned you would not need to wait for it to fully thaw before adding to the stew.
  • You are prepping multiple stews. Put each batch in a freezer bag and reuse the pan. You only have to clean the pan once.

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