Can You Refreeze Meat?
It happens to the best of us: You thaw more meat than is needed, and don't want it to go to waste. Then you start to wonder, can you refreeze meat?
But what happens when you thaw too much meat? Can you refreeze meat safely?
Is It Safe to Refreeze Thawed Meat?
You can safely refreeze meat as long as you thawed it in your refrigerator or any place with temperatures below 42°F. Make sure to refreeze it as soon as possible, within 2-4 days depending on the type of meat. Before putting it back into the freezer, check to see if there are any strange odors or colors, though.
When Can’t You Refreeze Meat?
If you thawed the meat on your countertop or microwave, it can’t be refrozen. You can cook the meat and safely freeze it after it’s cool. Meat left outside of the fridge for more than 1 to 2 hours should also be tossed.
Can You Refreeze Meat Twice?
Bear in mind that refreezing meat can change its taste and quality. Your best bet is to limit refreezing food if you can help it. This is how long food lasts after you pull it out of the freezer.
What Happens When You Refreeze Meat?
For starters, there will be a loss of moisture (think back to the liquid at the bottom of the package when you thaw meat—all that is lost moisture). The refreezing process also causes ice crystals to form, which dries the meat out. The more times meat is refrozen, the less juicy and tender it will be. It will be safe to eat, but it may not be as tasty as it would have been originally. However, you can easily fix tough meat in the slow cooker.
How to Refreeze Meat
You need to refreeze chicken quickly. Return it to the freezer within 1 to 2 days to preserve maximum quality, and place it in a shallow container to help speed up the freezing process. Refrozen chicken can last in the freezer between 9 and 12 months.
Though pork will be a little dry if you refreeze it, it will still be tasty (we’re big fans of using frozen meat to make pork fajitas). When prepping pork to return it to the freezer, place it in a freezer bag and make sure all the air is pressed out to prevent freezer burn. It can last up to 2 months in the freezer.
Don’t throw away expensive beef steaks and roasts, even after you’ve thawed them! They can be refrozen, and a homemade marinade will mask any change in flavor that occurs during refreezing. Your roasts will last for up to a year in the freezer. Use these freezer organization products to keep things tidy.
Ground meat can be refrozen if it’s been in the fridge for three days or less. When thawed again, it’s best suited for a ground beef casserole—save burger night for meat that’s freshly purchased. Ground meat will last between 3 and 4 months in the freezer.