Can you freeze and refreeze meat?

In this guide, we’ll explore the query: “Can you freeze and refreeze meat?” Also, we’ll explore what meats can be frozen and then refrozen, what happens to meat when you refreeze it, what are some precautions for defrosting meat, and how to tell if meat has spoiled. 

Can you freeze and refreeze meat

Yes, it’s possible to freeze both raw and cooked meat, defrost it for use, and then refreeze it to preserve it.  

However, this can only be done under certain conditions, and the effects of a second cycle of freezing and defrosting may negatively affect the meat’s quality. Regardless, if done properly, the meat will remain safe to eat after refreezing. 

It’s important to note that freezing does not restore freshness, and if meat that is slightly past its peak freshness is frozen, once it has thawed, its quality may diminish even more. This will occur due to the loss of moisture that comes with each freezing and defrosting cycle. 

Below, we’ll describe how meat can be frozen and then refrozen. 

What meats can be frozen and refrozen

Meats that have been stored raw in the freezer can be refrozen after being thawed out, so long as they were defrosted in the refrigerator, and were not left at room temperature. 

Cooked meats can also be frozen and refrozen similarly, by following the guideline that advises against defrosting at room temperature or by heating in a pot, oven, or using the defrost option in a microwave. 

Meat that has been defrosted in the refrigerator can be stored for up to 4 days before freezing it again, although it is advised to refreeze it as soon as possible, to preserve as much of its freshness as possible. 

As temperatures higher than those found in refrigeration units favor the growth of microbes that cause spoilage, meat that has been thawed on the countertop must be heated to a suitable temperature for it to be safely consumed.  

What happens to meat when you refreeze it? 

In each cycle of freezing and defrosting, meat loses moisture and some of the proteins denature (breakdown). 

This occurs because the water content in the cells that makes up tissues freezes into minuscule ice shards, and as a result, when this water expands, it ruptures the tissues  

Each cycle exposes the cells that make up meat portions to this damage, and by extension, the meat may have a much drier texture after one or two cycles. 

What are some precautions for defrosting meat

Precautions for defrosting meat include defrosting it in the fridge, and anticipating how soon it will be cooked and eaten. 

When thawing in the refrigerator, it may be necessary for users to anticipate how much time they’ll need for the meat to thaw out in refrigeration, but this is the safest method. 

Alternatively, portions of sealed meat can be placed in basins and placed under cold running water. Meat that is thawed using this method should be cooked immediately, and users may have to ration the meat they’ll freeze wisely. 

However, if the portions of meat to defrost are small, they can be thawed in the microwave using the defrost option. It may be necessary to pause in intervals and flip the meat so that it thaws evenly. 

This method will make the resulting meat no longer suitable for refreezing, and it must be wholly eaten or refrigerated from then on. 

Poultry cannot be left at room temperature under any circumstance, due to the bacteria naturally present in the meat. 

Leaving chicken or other poultry at room temperature will favor the growth of these bacteria, and even if the meat is cooked and the bacteria are all killed, they may have secreted toxins into the meat that may cause food poisoning. 

How can I tell if meat has spoiled?

Both raw and cooked portions of meat that have spoiled will give off a characteristically foul odor, may have a slimy consistency, show signs of discoloration, and microbes such as bacterial colonies and molds may have already begun to grow on it. 

Meat that shows signs of spoilage should immediately be discarded in a sealed package and thrown in the garbage. 

It should not be fed to household pets, let alone cooked and served, as it may trigger severe bouts of food poisoning

Conclusion

In this guide, we’ve explored the query: “Can you freeze and refreeze meat?” Also, we’ve explored what meats can be frozen and then refrozen, what happens to meat when you refreeze it, what are some precautions for defrosting meat, and how to tell if meat has spoiled. 

References

https://food.unl.edu/free-resources/newsletters/it-safe-refreeze-raw-meat-and-poultry-has-thawed#:~:text=The%20U.%20S.%20Dept.,the%20moisture%20lost%20through%20thawing.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/can-you-refreeze-meat

https://www.bordbia.ie/meat/storing-meat/#:~:text=Freezing%20creates%20ice%20crystals%20within,meat%20will%20be%20very%20dry.

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-safety-meat

https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/symptoms.html

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.