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"Is it safe to thaw and refreeze meat?"

Dear Anne and Sue,

Is it a good idea to refreeze meat after thawing it out once?

Thank you,
Waldo Lewis

 

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Dear Waldo,

There are two concerns with refreezing meat. The first is safety. If the meat has thawed in a refrigerator, then it’s okay to refreeze. In terms of other methods, make sure it doesn’t sit in the “danger zone”—40°F–140°F (4°C–60°C)—for more than two hours. And if it’s been thawed by other methods, cook it before refreezing. This is the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service’s position. If you do refreeze, the sooner you do it, the better.
The second concern is about the meat’s quality. When you think of how meat fibers change on a cellular level, freezing not only affects the solids in meat cells but also turns the liquid within the cells into frozen crystals. As you can imagine, these sharp, angular crystals can shear a delicate cell wall rather quickly. Then as the meat thaws, the contents of the cells seep out, creating that familiar puddle of juices. This leaves the thawed meat fibers more prone to drying out as they cook.

Freezing food as fast as possible minimizes the loss of liquid, because when ice crystals form quickly, they remain very tiny. If the process of freezing and thawing is repeated, however, greater moisture losses occur and the quality of the meat lessens.

Thanks for an excellent question.

Best regards,
Anne & Sue

 

 

 

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