There have always been questions regarding the process of freezing and unfreezing of the food. Which products are safe to defrost and which are not? Can you refreeze meat, for example?
In this article, we will talk about all the things you must take into account when refreezing meat and about how to refreeze chicken in particular.
Is It Safe to Refreeze Meat? What Happens When We Are Refreezing
Many of us often use refreezing when we, for example, take out some food from the freezer and it appears to be a bit too much for our needs. Of course, we want to know what we can do to preserve the products for the second time without ruining them, as well as whether it is safe at all to refreeze certain foodstuffs.
So what happens when I freeze something for the second time after the product has been thawed? Can I refreeze meat or any other products?
To begin with and to better understand the process, let’s figure out what is going on with the product when we freeze it for the first time. When any food is affected by the frost, its cells get broken under the impact of the low temperature.
That is why frozen food is far less tasty compared to the fresh products and also why frozen products usually cost less than the same ones only being fresh.
But what if we took the frozen food out of the freezer, defrosted it and then affected it by the frost again? If we do this, the number of cells that will get broken will be much more, besides, the natural moisture will be leached out of the product which will lead to the changes of its texture and integrity.
Nevertheless, this is not the only thing that happens when we refreeze meat or other food. During the refreezing process, different harmful bacteria speed up their growth because the food that was defrosted and then frozen again tends to produce more of those than the fresh one or the one that was frozen only once.
Because of all these issues, using refreezing, as well as food that was defrosted for more than one time, is under strict restrictions at the restaurants and canteens. We should also pay attention to this if we want to prevent ourselves and our family members from any disease.
Products You Must Never Refreeze
After all that you have learned, you may naturally ask yourself: “Is it safe to freeze anything for the second time at all?”
Well, whilst many products are safe to expose to the influence of low temperature, there are several items that you must never expose to any refreezing process!
When we talk about meat, we need to mind several essential moments.
First of all, remember that if the meat was defrosted in the chilled environment with the temperature level less than forty-two degrees Fahrenheit, then it is fine to freeze it again later.
Nevertheless, if the meat was thawed at room temperature or in case the meat has changed its color or smells odd, then you must throw it away immediately as it has already gone bad!
One more thing to keep in mind when talking about refreezing is that some of the seafood is already sold frozen so you don’t have to freeze it more after you bought it and brought home.
It will not get spoiled if you refreeze it, however, it will definitely change its texture and will become icy and may also lose some of its taste. So, if your ice cream melted on the table or on the counter, simply drink it as a milkshake or use it as a topping for pancakes.
As long as the process of fermentation happens much faster in the products that contain fruits or that are totally made of fruits, it is highly recommended to eat them till they are fresh.
Any food like pasta, casseroles, pies or stew shall be exposed to the impact of the frost and especially frozen for the second time as it will cause the spreading of bacteria and accelerate the deterioration of the products.
Cooked protein-containing food
If you happened to have some frozen roasted meat, you’d better not to freeze it once again after it was already defrosted.
If the previously frozen meat was defreezed once, cook it within the next couple of hours, otherwise just throw it away.
Refreezing Chicken Meat: Specifics of the Process.
So now we have come up to the very worrying question. Can you refreeze thawed chicken?
We all know that often some chicken meat is left after dinner or a party and of course, we toss it to the freezer to use later. But what if your cooked chicken has been waiting for you on the fridge shelf until now?
At that rate, you may wonder whether it is still normal to eat this meat or you’d better throw it away to avoid any problems with your stomach after you taste a piece.
Can you thaw and refreeze chicken?
If it is raw meat, it is acceptable to freeze such chicken once again. Only ensure that you unfrosted it under less than forty-two degrees Fahrenheit and it spent the longest of two days under this temperature. At that rate, it is allowed to freeze it and return it to the freezer.
However, even when following all the rules, your chicken meat will change its texture and qualities a bit after the second freeze.
One more issue that needs to be paid attention to is the following: when you use the microwave or cold water to unfreeze the chicken, it must be used instantly. If, after applying such an unfreezing manipulation, you want to freeze it again, you can do it only with cooked meat. Otherwise, bacteria will start to reproduce and the meat will become unsafe to eat anymore.
Can you refreeze cooked chicken?
In fact, it is completely safe to expose a cooked chicken to the frost again but only if it was stored properly. Refreezing chicken that is already cooked can take place only if you unfrosted it under less than forty-two degrees and you didn’t heat it up to more than forty degrees Fahrenheit.
On the other hand, in case you used a microwave or hot water for defrosting your chicken, you must not freeze it repeatedly!
So what steps shall you take to refreeze some chicken meat, cooked or raw, in a good way so that it will last longer?
- If you have some cooked leftovers
If it so happened that you are going to refreeze some leftovers, let them stay in the fridge and cool down a bit before you send them to the freezer but don’t keep them there for more than twenty-four hours!
Split the meat into smaller pieces to make it freeze easier and use later (you can chop it or slice, or divide it into strands).
Put it to the proper box and freeze.
Remember that, after being unfrosted in the fridge, the cooked chicken can be heated only once. If you heat it up and cool again more than one time, it may cause different food-borne diseases after such meat is eaten!
And here come several more useful tips for you to remember:
- Freeze your cooked chicken repeatedly in the airtight container only to prevent air from getting in and causing the growth of bacteria.
- If you have some leftovers that were unfrosted under the forty degrees, put them to freeze at once. Like that, you will reduce the risk of bacterial infection.
- When being preserved correctly, cooked chicken meat can be exposed to the frost for about four months.
- Among all the dishes made of chicken, chicken soup, dumplings, chicken breasts, and fried chicken feel themselves being frozen perfectly.
What Kinds of Meat Are OK to Refreeze at Home?
Perhaps, you wonder what will happen to the other kinds of meat and whether they can be frozen repeatedly. Here are the answers to the most frequent questions regarding this issue.
Can you refreeze ground beef?
This meat can be exposed to frost repeatedly. Nevertheless, ensure that you unfrosted it under less than forty degrees and it spent a maximum of three days at this temperature.
Can you refreeze thawed meat?
Unfrosted meat is allowed to freeze repeatedly only in case it was unfrozen under the same conditions as described above and didn’t spend more than a couple of days in such conditions.
Can you refreeze pork?
Pork is easily frozen repeatedly. All that is required is to return it to the freezer within several days after you unfrost it.
Can you refreeze hamburger?
Feel free to refreeze hamburger only in case you unfrosted it and it remained at the temperature level under forty degrees.
Can you refreeze bacon?
Bacon, whether uncooked or used, can be frozen once again within only three days after defrosting. Feel free to use any container suitable for freezing for it.
Can you refreeze a turkey?
Turkey can be safely sent back to the freezer within three days after you defrosted it. Only ensure that its container is airtight.
Can you refreeze steak?
Steaks can be refrozen easily if you defrosted them in the fridge. However, you may notice certain loos of texture which is normal.
As you see, almost any kind of meat can be refrozen under one circumstance only: if you froze it and unfrosted it correctly.
So simply pay attention to the temperature regime you keep your meat at and ensure that you don’t keep it at room temperature for too long. When being affected by the temperature lower than forty degrees Fahrenheit, the meat will start producing harmful bacteria that will only expand if the food will be reheated or improperly stored in the future.
What Else You Need to Remember When Refreezing Meat?
There are several more significant features of meat refreezing and thawing that everyone must be aware of in order to be able to tell if everything is going right.
- If you unfreeze the meat in the fridge, it is acceptable to freeze it repeatedly no matter whether it was cooked or not.
- After defrosting, you may notice some loss of texture characteristics because a part of natural moisture leaves the meat after thawing. It is absolutely normal and there is nothing to worry about.
- It can also happen that, after the second defrosting, the meat can taste a bit dry or hard to chew.
- If you cook raw meat that was previously frozen, feel free to freeze the dish you have made of it.
- It is allowed to repeatedly freeze meat that has been cooked previously and later unfrosted in the fridge. Leftovers can remain frozen for three to four days.
- If meat remained outside the fridge for more than two hours, don’t refreeze it again!
- Never defrost meat at room temperature as it causes the growth of harmful bacteria!
How to Thaw Chicken Meat Properly?
To defrost chicken meat and avoid losing its taste and texture, simply put it to the fridge overnight and let it stay there and thaw.
The temperature in the fridge will allow the meat to defrost safely without producing harmful bacteria on its surface.
If you defrost chicken in a microwave or by using hot water, ensure you will cook that meat at once as it is unsafe to refreeze and reuse it afterward.
What you must always keep in mind when it comes to refreezing chicken meat (or any other meat whether it is cooked or raw) is that this product has to be frozen and defrosted correctly under the right conditions and temperature.
If you follow those recommendations when freezing and defrosting your chicken, it will allow you to preserve the meat longer and avoid any harmful results that may affect your health.
In case you notice anything suspicious after defrosting your chicken, for example, any changes of color, weird smell, slimy surface or any other signs of spoilage, it is better to throw that piece of meat away.
Even cooking will not save it and eating spoiled meat will definitely lead to severe food poisoning.
Be careful and attentive to your products in the kitchen and take care!