Foods You Shouldn’t Refreeze After Thawing

Foods You Shouldn’t Refreeze After Thawing

Freezing food is a great way to keep it fresh when you buy it in bulk, but refreezing is a completely different story. Here are a few foods that are just fine to freeze, but shouldn’t ever be refrozen after they have already been thawed one time.

Picture: Robert S Donovan

Every time a product is frozen — like meat and produce — cell walls are ruptured in the process. That’s why frozen food doesn’t quite taste as good as fresh food. When you refreeze those foods after they have been thawed, even more cellular structure is destroyed to make it taste even worse, and bacteria is given a chance to develop. Sarah Rae Trover at food blog The Kitchn, recommends that you avoid refreezing these five things:

  1. Raw proteins: Meat, poultry, and seafood are OK to refreeze if they were thawed in a cold environment — otherwise toss it.
  2. Ice cream: If you left it out and it melted, just toss it. The texture will never be the same.
  3. Juice concentrates: Fermentation happens fast and it’s best to get rid of it.
  4. Homemade leftovers: Casseroles, pot pies, stews and pastas that you’ve made are fine to freeze, but they will start to go bad when you thaw them a second time.
  5. Cooked proteins: You can thaw a raw protein, cook it, and then freeze it once. Toss it after that.

Even if you think it might save you a few bucks, it’s important to know when you should just toss something. Rules like these are used in the restaurant and grocery industries, so it only makes sense to keep the food in your home just as safe to consume.

5 Foods You Should Never Refreeze [The Kitchn]


    • Not true at all.

      If you defrost something and it stays cold (like thawing in the fridge) then it is fine as it hasn’t gone into the temperature danger zone (between 5 C-60 C) – this is about safety

      HOWEVER quality wise, freezing, defrosting and refreezing causes water crystal to form and damages the food, freezer burn, thawed strawberries go mushy etc.

      • Rule of thumb is this. Unless you will sit there with a thermometer unless you intend to eat the whole thing do not thaw it. If you thaw then freeze thaw then freeze repeatedly enjoy your freezer burn and even potential food poisoning. So while you can say ‘not true at all’ theres a thing called being pedantic and a thing called using common sense.

        • @weresmurf You do not need to sit there with a thermometer if it is in the refrigerator – it is thermostatically controlled and you should have it set appropriately. Christian is not being pedantic and he is using common sense based on the inability of bacteria to grow in a cold environment.

          • Just letting you know your last part about bacteria being unable to grow in low temps is completely incorrect. Psychotrophs are bacteria, they’re capable of growth at room temperature as well as low temperatures, they can survive at temperatures ranging from 0°C to 25°C, they’re also the number one reason for food spoilage. That’s generally your fridge temperature range, 0 – 5 area. At freezing temperatures, their growth ability pretty much stops, but in a fridge, they’re completely capable of growing and they can spoil food very quickly. That’s part of why it’s unadvised to thaw and refreeze.

          • Listeria mono and other Listeria species being one of those cold loving and growing bugs.

          • Yep, and they’re oh so fun to get poisoned by. I know by personal experience :\ Damn you chicken. Learnt the hard way as a teen. lol. Chicken is DEFINITELY among those you never. Ever. Ever. Ever. refreeze after its thawed out. Ever.

            Did I forget to say ever?

          • Point taken about the 0-5/7 range. The article, is however correct that some things can be safely refrozen for a shorter period. The article is however remiss not to point out that bacterial growth is exponential and potentially dangerous, if this is not taken into account. In the short periods where food is thawed, as you point out bacterial growth has occurred, when it is re-thawed and even during the thawing growth will accelerate from a much higher base. The danger is if you forget that it had been previously thawed. You know all this though. 🙂

    • now I have taken into consideration what @weresmurf has mentioned.

      Yes things can grow under refrigeration, however if you are talking about raw food to be cooked, then its fine if its refrozen. But if you are talking about ready to eat foods, food that does not need further cooking or a kill step then yes it may have a potential to have issues. BUT then time comes into it.

      But for example:
      I defrosted in the fridge (so kept under 5C) a piece of red meat, cut off what I needed to cook (kill step right there) for the night, put the rest back in the freezer, no issues apart form possible quality concerns of freezer burn, but you might have on hand a vacuum sealer to reduce those quality issues.

      I defrosted a cake with berries/fruit on top and cheese or custard filling- ready to eat once defrosted. Then there is a small chance, if left too long in the fridge Listeria could continue to grow (if it has Listeria in it to start with). you could still safely refreeze it, would taste like crap probably. But yeah very low risk still.

      I took out a piece of chicken from the fridge over night (6 or so hours) on the bench to defrost, it is not that cold to touch any more, you can either cook it or chuck it cause you were stupid. That is dicey.

      Quick defrost under cold running water in the sink for seafood is a safer option as well.

      I say this stuff with up most respect for food, knowing common sense is not so common in food handlers and food operators and over 10 years as an Environmental Health Officer (health/food inspector)

      Realistically: Anything. Refreezing is never safe with any kind of food.
      that is being overly pedantic and throwing away good food…
      but do what you feel comfortable and

      if in doubt, throw it out!

      • Your response was far better and a lot more sensible than weresmurf’s dismissive one line burp.

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