We are often faced with the conundrum of taking something out of the freezer but we don’t really need all of it but can you really do about this? Can you really refreeze the remainder and use it another time?
That’s the big question, and the answer is… yes, but you really shouldn’t.
So, yes you can refreeze whatever you want but it’s not always good especially for meat. What that means is that whenever you freeze food it changes a little. Take meat for example when you freeze it at home, a regular freezer takes time to fully freeze through unlike when you snap freeze something. In that time water molecules get trapped in the fibres of the meat and when the meat thaws, those same water molecules expand and cause the fibres of the meat to push apart which causes the meat to become mushy and soft. Refreezing causes this process to repeat and ultimately it can become a gooey messy.
So, how do you freeze things safety. First and foremost never put meat or cooked food into the freezer bare, use zip lock bags, airtight Tupperware, etc. For recently cooked food, always wait for it to cool down completely to room temperature and then cover and freeze. And remember, meat generally has bacteria in it and by freezing and refreezing traps more bacteria which can eventually become harmful to you.
On the other side of this problem, you might find yourself wanting a little snack or just cook up a feast with these frozen goodie but what is the best way to thaw it out.
You have two main options available to you, use your fridge or cold water. Let me explain, the best approach is to take the meat from the freezer and put into the fridge to thaw. This way is a little longer and can take anywhere up to eight hours depending on the type and size of your meat. If you are thawing chicken, this can take even longer. The problem with this method, is unless you know what you want to cook ahead of time, you might yourself in a frozen pickle. And let’s be honest, we don’t always plan that far ahead.
The second option which is quicker, used mainly for meat, is to use cold water but don’t just leave in a tub of cold water – don’t use warm or hot water as this can start to cook your food and cause food poising. All this does is that the meat acts like an ice cube and keeps the water cold. What you really need to do is let the water continuously run over it – this is because water is a better conductor of heat and the continual flow thaws the meat faster as the consistent heat allows the defrosting process to occur quicker. But realistically, you’re not going to leave the water running for that long.
Our advice, try to plan ahead! But if you find yourself thawing out a previous meal you should always reheat it and eat it immediately, it not advised by anyone to freeze again once you’ve reheated it.
That all said, you should always eat your food fresh but if you find yourself in a position that you need to freeze for later don’t be afraid to do so. Our advice portion out your meals, meat, soup or anything else you might want to have for at a later day. That way you don’t have to thaw out too much and throw away any excess. This minimises your food wastage and gives you a greater opportunity to enjoy it another day.
Some Quick Insight Into Freezing Meat
Product Approximate frozen storage
Beef/Lamb Roasts 4-6 months
Ground Beef Mince 2-3 months
Sausages 1-2 months
Beef Steaks 3-4 months
Beef/Lamb Casserole 2-3 months
Lamb Chops 2-3 months
Offal 1 month
Whole Chicken 4-6 months
Chicken Portions 3 months
Lean Fish (eg. Whiting) 4 months
Oily Fish (eg. Mackerel) 3 months
(Source: Meat and Livestock Australia Food Safety Campaign Group: Food Safety in the Home)