How Many Times Can You Actually Thaw And Refreeze Food?
When is freezing and thawing food no longer an option? Can you make a meal, eat it, freeze the leftovers, heat and thaw them at a later date, and then refreeze for a second round of leftovers? Can you refreeze meat? Vegetables? Soups?
According to senior food editor Rick Martinez and Robert Ramsey, chef instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, you can refreeze and re-thaw food—but just because you can doesn’t mean you should. At ICE, Ramsey and his colleagues have a blanket rule: “If something’s been frozen once, that’s it.”
The biggest downside of freezing and thawing and re-freezing and re-thawing is that the food becomes excessively mushy. Most food contains water. When you freeze something, the water inside expands, and the cell walls break down, leading to unrecognizable mush, says Ramsey. The only exception, he says, is flash-frozen products. If you purchase something frozen, it likely has gone through a deep, flash-freezing process, so the water hasn’t had time to pool and turn your food into sad slop. If you’re freezing something in your home freezer, it freezes very slowly (i.e., mush city). For this reason, soup is something you can get away with refreezing, but meat—not so much.
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