Can you refreeze the soup? (the shelf life of refrozen soup)
In this article, we will answer the question, “Can you refreeze soup?” and discuss how can you refreeze soup, how to thaw frozen soup, how to reheat soup, how long frozen soup lasts and how to know if soup has gone bad.
Can you refreeze the soup?
Yes, you can refreeze soup. As long as the soup has been properly thawed and kept no longer than 2 hours at room temperature or has been stored correctly in the fridge for a maximum period of 4 days after being cooked (1).
The soup should not be left out at temperatures above 40 °F (4 °C) for longer than 2 hours, as higher temperatures favour the growth of microorganisms, which could lead to foodborne illnesses (5).
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, food leftovers can be refrozen after being frozen and thawed once. However, consecutive freezing and thawing cycles lead to negative impacts on the food’s properties, reducing its nutritional value and sensory quality (3).
How can you refreeze the soup?
To refreeze soup, place the refrigerated soup that has been thawed in the freezer after a maximum period of 4 days, independently if it has been reheated or not (1).
However, if the food has been thawed in the microwave, the food should be reheated before it goes to the freezer again (1).
How to thaw frozen soup?
To thaw frozen soup, you can simply place the frozen soup in the refrigerator the day before. This is considered the safest method to defrost food.
Alternatively, you can use the microwave at a low potency for a faster defrosting process. However, when using the microwave to defrost frozen food, it is recommended to immediately cook and consume the food.
During the thawing in the microwave, part of the food is exposed to temperatures above 40 °F (4 °C), which favours the development of microorganisms and increases the risks of foodborne illnesses (1).
How to reheat soup?
To reheat the soup, you can use the stovetop and the microwave oven. It is not necessary to thaw the soup first (1, 2).
Reheating the soup on the stovetop: Place the soup in a cooking pan on the stovetop and set the heat to medium-high. Cook during constant stirring till the centre of the soup reaches the temperature of 165 °F (74 °C).
Reheating the soup in the microwave: Place the soup in a microwavable dish and cover it with a foil or a glass plate. Set the energy to medium potency and cook till the temperature of the centre of the food reaches 165 °F (74 °C). Halt every 3 minutes to stir the soup and homogenise the temperature.
How long does soup last?
Soup lasts 3 to 4 days when stored in the refrigerator after being cooked or after being thawed. When stored in the freezer, soup can last up to 4 months, even if it has been previously frozen and defrosted/ refrozen (1).
However, the sensory properties of the soup may decrease after the freezing and thawing procedures and during the long frozen storage, independently of the safety.
Microorganisms are not able to grow under frozen conditions, however, during the freezing and thawing processes, they can multiply. On the other hand, oxidation of vitamins, pigments and lipids, as well as other deteriorative reactions are favoured by freezing and thawing processes, especially by the repetition of them (4).
How to know if soup has gone bad?
To know if the soup has gone bad, it is necessary to carefully analyse the organoleptic aspects of the soup and verify if any signs of spoilage are present. In general, food spoilage is manifested by changes in the colour, flavour and odour of the food.
Some indications of spoilage in the soup are (4, 5):
- Generation of off-odours and off-flavours characterised as rancid, oxidised, fermented and sour;
- Discolourations, such as a decrease in the redness of meats, and loss of the colour of the vegetables, indicating oxidation;
- Formation of a biofilm or slime on the surface of the soup, which indicates microbial development;
- Generation of gas due to fermentation processes caused by microorganisms.
In this article, we answered the question “Can you refreeze soup?” and discussed how can you refreeze soup, how to thaw frozen soup, how to reheat soup, how long frozen soup lasts and how to know if soup has gone bad.
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Usda.gov. [cited 2023 Aug 11]. Available from: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/leftovers-and-food-safety
AskUSDA [Internet]. Usda.gov. [cited 2023 Sep 26]. Available from: https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/What-methods-of-reheating-food-are-safe
Coorey R, Ng DS, Jayamanne VS, Buys EM, Munyard S, Mousley CJ, Njage PM, Dykes GA. The impact of cooling rate on the safety of food products as affected by food containers. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 2018 Jul;17(4):827-40.
Ali S, Zhang W, Rajput N, Khan MA, Li CB, Zhou GH. Effect of multiple freeze–thaw cycles on the quality of chicken breast meat. Food chemistry. 2015 Apr 15;173:808-14.
Rawat S. Food Spoilage: Microorganisms and their prevention. Asian journal of plant science and Research. 2015;5(4):47-56.