Can you refreeze meat thawed at room temperature? Yes, but, only if the meat hasn’t sat at room temperature for more than two hours. Always defrost your meat in the refrigerator as this helps keep it safe from any bacterial growth.
Imagine this, you pull some meat that has been frozen from the freezer to defrost. You’re planning to cook an amazing meal later in the day. Then, life happens, and for some reason, you cannot cook it that day.
Today, we’ll explore the best way to defrost meat correctly and effectively refreeze it.
We will discuss the various things to consider and address some commonly asked questions. It’s time to stop having to dispose of meat!
Can You Refreeze Meat Thawed At Room Temperature?
The freezing of meats is the most popular and efficient method of preserving them for long-term use. It protects the taste and texture without affecting it in any way.
For instance, when you cube the meat with salt alters the flavor. Also, when it’s dried changes the texture.
However, like any other preservation technique, some crucial aspects must be considered when deciding.
Meat is stored in freezers for preservation as it blocks bacteria from developing over it. The bacterium can cause the meat to become rotten. To develop, they require oxygen, humidity, and ideal temperatures.
The freezer removes all these components. They form a seal that blocks oxygen from flowing through and cause the moisture within the animal to freeze completely, rendering it impossible to use.
A freezer operates in the temperature-safety zone. The temperature danger zone is 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 to 60 degrees Celsius). Anything stored at high temperatures creates conditions for bacteria that can thrive and cause food to spoil.
Freezers function under the temperature of -18degF (0degC), making it impossible for bacteria to develop.
What happens when meat Freezes
We will not go in-depth, but it’s important to know what happens to meat when it is frozen. This will provide you with an understanding of how it will be handled when you wish to freeze it again and its risks.
Suppose the meat has been first frozen in the freezer, and the water content of the protein increases and crystallizes (creating the formation of ice crystals). Naturally, this alters its texture after it is removed from freezers, though not in large quantities.
Any bacteria present will be frozen as soon as the meat starts to cool. We have already mentioned that freezers work well outside the temperature risk zone. It provides hostile conditions for bacteria.
However, the moment they stop freezing, they do not die. They just go dormant.
Naturally, after the meat has been removed from the freezer, the bacteria begin to appear “back to life” and recover their capacity to multiply and grow.
Can You Thaw Meat At Room Temperature?
After the meat has been thawed, it is important to make the crystals of ice melt completely, stopping the meat from rotting. It is important to be able to make use of the meat as it was in its original state.
Unfortunately, freezing doesn’t kill bacteria. They become dormant. Therefore, when the ice crystals have melted, they “release” the bacteria.
When you are thawing your meat in the fridge, you should still put it in a place that makes it challenging for bacteria rapidly grow and cause spoilage.
Fridges are operating between -18degF and 40degF. The temperature range is out of the zone of danger. Therefore, the growth of bacteria is significantly slowed.
When you defrost food at room temperature, you’re putting it inside this zone. When the meat is completely defrosted, it has restored the bacteria to full strength. They immediately begin to multiply.
What Happens If You Refreeze Meat?
If you freeze meat that has been frozen, it will refreeze the fresh components that are attached to the meat.
Let’s say you’ve defrosted your meat, marinated it, and then want to freeze it. The marinade’s flavor that was added and absorbed into the meat will also be preserved in the freezer.
Similar to bacteria. After defrosting and then refreezing, they would immediately begin expanding. Therefore, after refreezing the meat, more bacteria are frozen than initially.
Should You Freeze Meat That Has Been Thawed At Room Temperature?
According to the USDA, if meat is thawed at room temperature for more than two hours and is not used, it must be discarded if it is not being employed.
You can refreeze it if you can thaw it before the two hours have expired.
We’ll say that freezing thawed meat isn’t always a good idea, as it doesn’t have the same pros (or at least more serious negatives) However, they pose more risk, particularly if the meat is thawed at room temperature.
Pros To Refreezing Meat Thawed At Room Temperature
- It’s not a good idea to waste expensive meats or food waste.
- You can increase the shelf-life of meat and further preserve it.
- The flavor or the characteristics of the thawed meat throughout the two hours it was defrosting. After that, you will have the same product, which will be preserved. This can also help you save the time needed to prepare later. It is easy to remove the fresh product from the freezer, let it thaw, and then utilize it.
Cons of Refreezing Meat Thawed At Room Temperature
- Bacteria had enough time to activate again and begin reproducing. That means more bacteria exist when refreezing your meat than what was originally present.
- The shelf duration (even in refrozen form) has significantly diminished.
- The characteristic softness of meat, and consequently the quality, has diminished. Water molecules have been exhausted twice. This causes the texture of a mushy substance in the meat making it less delicate.
- The meat’s flavor is also likely to have diminished quite a bit. When the meat is thawed, the flavor molecules release together with melting crystals of ice. Therefore, thawing meat twice equals twice the amount of lost flavor molecules.
Should You Freeze meat that has been frozen within The Fridge?
Refreezing the meat that was frozen and thawed in the refrigerator is a safer choice! This is due to the fact that the meat was not allowed to go to return to the temperature risk zone. It was kept below 40°F (4.5degC).
If bacteria were to start growing in the future in the future, it would be at a lower rate than when they were still at temperatures of room temperature.
In addition, the slow-thawing process allows many of the meat’s original characteristics (flavor and texture) to remain intact.
How Do You Know When Thawed Or Refrozen Meat Is Gone Bad?
There are a few signs that can indicate that thawed or refrozen meat has gone bad:
- Smell: Bad meat often has a strong, rancid odor. If the meat has a sour or putrid smell, it is best to discard it.
- Texture: Thawed or refrozen meat that has gone bad may feel slimy or sticky to the touch, and its texture may be noticeably different from fresh meat.
- Color: If the meat has turned a gray or brownish color, it is a sign that it has gone bad. Fresh meat should be a vibrant red or pink color.
- Taste: If you are unsure about the freshness of the meat, cook a small piece and taste it. If it tastes off or has a bitter flavor, it is best to discard it.
If you are in doubt about the freshness of thawed or refrozen meat, it is always best to err on the side of caution and discard it.
Eating spoiled meat can cause food poisoning and other health problems.
After we’ve covered the process of refreezing meat frozen at room temperature, we can look at some of the questions about the topic!
How Long Can Frozen Meat Last In The Fridge?
We suggest storing defrosted meat for 2 to 3 days once it is thawed. Also, only if it was frozen in a fridge. If you’re thawing meat that was refrozen, do not keep it for more than 1 day. The meat is already more susceptible to the growth of bacteria.
Can Partially Thawed Meat Be Refrozen?
Yes, partially thawed meat can be refrozen, but its quality and texture may be affected. The USDA recommends against refreezing thawed meat due to the risk of bacterial growth and loss of quality. It’s best to cook and consume partially thawed meat as soon as possible.
Why Shouldn’t You Refreeze Meat?
Refreezing meat is not recommended because it can result in the growth of harmful bacteria and the degradation of the meat’s quality and texture. When meat is thawed, its temperature can rise to a range that is ideal for bacterial growth, increasing the risk of foodborne illness.
How Do You Know When Thawed Or Refrozen Meat Is Gone Bad?
The meat will be easily noticeable by an extremely pungent and sour smell. The texture can also be thin or sticky. If there is an appearance or pungent smell and often, if there’s any evidence of bacterial growth, then your meat is gone and must be thrown out.