One cardinal rule of meals prep and preservation I discovered rising up was that when frozen food thaws, it can’t return into the freezer. My mother taught me that, and her mother taught her.

For my mother, this rule holds quick throughout all meals teams from meat and poultry to dairy and desserts. She by no means, ever would freeze, thaw, after which re-freeze uncooked rooster with out cooking it. “That may be a shanda,” she says, which is Yiddish for “scandal.”

So when I discovered my freezer door barely ajar at some point, it despatched me into throes of tension: Sure, the additional electrical energy and wasted vitality, however the worst half? ALL THE THAWED FOOD I WOULD NEED TO EAT IMMEDIATELY!

The idea that thawed meals can’t be re-frozen proves widespread, contemplating what number of articles deal with this query. So, is it true? As Meredith Carothers, a meals security specialist at america Division of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.), says, meals security and meals high quality are two various things right here.

Is it secure to refreeze thawed meals?

Sure — however there’s a proper solution to do it.

“From a security perspective, so long as the meals product that has thawed has been saved under 40 levels Fahrenheit [about 4.5 degrees Celsius], it is secure to refreeze it,” Carothers tells Inverse. By “under 40 levels Fahrenheit,” she means “within the fridge.” (“No one that I do know personally has their home at decrease than 40 levels,” she says.)

Forty levels Fahrenheit is the magic quantity as a result of that’s when cooler temperatures begin to gradual micro organism copy. Some widespread, dangerous micro organism that develop shortly on meals exterior the fridge are E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter. Sometimes these contaminated with these micro organism exhibit vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and different signs.

There’s a trick for thawing meals at room temperature, so long as you take note of timing. “We do have a two-hour rule the place actually that micro organism will not have the time to multiply to harmful ranges inside that two-hour timeframe,” Carothers says.

That is true for each uncooked and cooked meals left at room temperature for greater than two hours. Even when you plan to prepare dinner some uncooked meat within the oven, if the meat has been on the counter all day that might pose an issue. “When these foodborne sickness micro organism have the chance to multiply to harmful ranges, they will really produce some warmth resistant toxins,” she says. “Finally they’re warmth resistant. They will not be killed in a while by being uncovered to these excessive temperatures.”

The identical is true for meals left on the counter in its authentic wrapping, like uncooked rooster or beef. The packaging doesn’t shield in opposition to temperature change, and that meat was by no means freed from micro organism; it simply didn’t possess harmful ranges of micro organism.

In the event you do re-freeze meals (uncooked or cooked) left at room temperature longer than two hours, that’s additionally dangerous. “The freezer would not kill them,” Carothers says. “They’re simply going to be in that paused holding sample till you begin to thaw once more.”

Backside line: It’s secure to refreeze meals that was thawed both within the fridge or at room temperature for lower than two hours. The chance of meals poisoning and foodborne diseases comes while you refreeze meals left on the counter defrosting all day.

Is it okay to refreeze thawed meals?

Whereas “secure” means the apply is not going to pose a threat to well being, “okay” regards the meals’s high quality. One other custom in my household is “secret” meals, which we name meals — particularly desserts — we froze after which forgot about. Generally a meals is so secret, so totally clandestine that by the point it’s recovered, it resembles a snowball. At that time, it’s often past saving.

Carothers says that freezing attracts some water out of the meals, which may end up in a duller taste. When frozen, water types ice crystals. These crystals transfer to meals surfaces, which is why snacks left within the freezer too lengthy can have a frosty coating. This transferring course of known as sublimation, through which a substance modifications from a strong (not the meals itself, however its water content material turned to ice) to a gasoline. As water molecules exit, the frozen meals dries up; oxygen causes it to additional shrivel.

Freezing meals as soon as can alter style sufficient; freezing and refreezing simply means much more lackluster leftovers. “There’s that potential of the standard getting poorer every time you thaw or refreeze it.”

What’s one of the best ways to thaw refrozen meals?

As Carothers says, thawing refrozen meals within the fridge is the most secure solution to revive them, if a bit extra time-consuming. In the event you plan to eat your preserves straight away, zapping them within the microwave is good. Including again a bit of water to some frozen meals, particularly whereas heating them, can go a good distance for texture.

Some meals freeze better than others within the first place. Soups, stews, curries, and a few meat dishes honest fairly nicely, particularly when you reheat them on the range and add some contemporary seasoning. Dairy, moreover complete, contemporary cheese, does decently within the chilly field. Greens and fruits like berries, grapes, and bananas chill nicely, particularly when you like banana “ice cream” or sucking on frozen grapes. Recent fruits, nonetheless, can get mushy upon thawing fully.

With the science behind this maternal household secret, my mother and I can correctly freeze, unfreeze, and refreeze all we wish.

CHECK, PLEASE is an Inverse sequence that makes use of biology, chemistry, and physics to debunk the largest meals myths and assumptions.

Now learn this: Is the raw food diet healthy? A dietician debunks the wellness myth

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