Refreezing food is always a good choice. According to Omnipol consumer research, 76% of Australians think they cannot refreeze chicken once it has been thawed. What is the actual reality behind these stats? “Can you refreeze chicken?” Several surveys have made it very clear and have also put an end to all these myths. It turns out that we all were completely wrong.
Over the years, this myth has been busted very well. You can Refreeze raw chicken directly frozen from the store or after safely defrosting it. The choice is yours! Minimizing food waste is crucial, especially when you can quickly freeze it without getting spoiled for a few days.
The Australian Chicken Meat Federation is the primary coordinating body for participants in the chicken industry in Australia. According to them, “can you Refreeze chicken” is one of the most searched terms that bring people to their website
Can You Refreeze Chicken When Thawed?
There are no food safety issues with refreezing thawed chicken meat. Loss of moisture is very likely to be seen. Thawing chicken at room temperature will only ensure bacterial growth. Always thaw chicken at low temperature or immediately microwave-safe dish and cook. Every time the meat is frozen, the water content is lost. Thus, another round of moisture is lost when defrosted and refrozen again. Hence, the lesser you Refreeze, the less chewy it will be.
1. Best Methods to Thaw Chicken
Here are the three safe thawing methods:
This method is relatively time-consuming but the safest way. First, you will have to fill a large bowl with cold water and submerge the chicken. Leakproof packaging is mandatory. This will ensure bacteria do not infect the food by damaging the meat tissues. Do change the cold water every 30 minutes for 2 to 3 hours.
This is the fastest method to thaw chicken using the auto-defrost setting. Heating poultry ensures the safety of the chicken meat, but one must immediately cook after. This is because of increasing temperature between 40 to 150°F, in which harmful bacteria thrives in. Hence, the chicken must be immediately for dinner to kill all the potentially scary stuff and improve its taste.
Refrigerating before you cook the chicken for dinner is the most recommended thawing method. This method is also very time-consuming, and thus dishes must be planned ahead of time.
2. How Can You Refreeze Chicken?
It is entirely safe to freeze chicken when appropriately handled. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, as long as the meat has been thawed in the refrigerator and kept for more than two days, you can pop the chicken back into the freezer, and it will be completely safe to eat.
2.1. 5 Best Steps to Refreeze Chicken
Here are 5 essential points to keep in mind while refreezing chicken:
- Wash your hands and utensils you will be using thoroughly
- Rinse chicken properly before storing
- Creating multiple layers will help maintain the quality. Wrap the poultry first in a freezer plastic wrap
- Then use aluminum foil paper to wrap it.
- Then put it in a plastic bag. Make sure to let out the maximum air possible. Store it in the fridge.
You can use the above steps after cooking and for raw meat.
3. Can You Refreeze Chicken? What Are the Risks?
Can you refreeze the chicken? The answer is straightforward. Refreezing chicken meat or thaw meat is entirely safe when stored in the best quality. Refreezing will prevent spoilage when stored properly. The sooner you refreeze, the better it will maintain its quality.
It is to be noted that raw chicken thawed already for longer than 2 days, including cooked ones stored longer than 4 days, might already be spoiled. It is of no use to refreeze them. There is a small considerable risk, but it can be easily avoided.
3.1. Here Are Some of The Risks of Refreezing Chicken that Must Be Prevented:
- Freeze quickly: The chicken must be safely defrosted on the kitchen counter. A shallow container is most recommended to help speed up the freezing process. Slow freezing will damage the structure due to the formation of large ice crystals in the thawed chicken.
- Moisture loss: No matter how hard you try, refrozen will never maintain the peak quality it had as fresh chicken after all the prolonged exposure to air. A slight loss of quality is mandatory due to moisture loss after thawing.
- Detachment of fiber binds: Several defrosting and refreezing of the chicken meat has high chances of loosening its fiber content. It destroys the soft texture and makes the meat very rubbery and chewy.
4. Incorrect Myths?
Refrozen chicken is no less nutritious than fresh chicken. The best part about refrozen chicken is that it retains its nutritional value longer. Temperatures below 4°C or 40°F slow down bacterial growth and also help prevent the wastage of extra food without falling sick. To be very specific, the sooner you Refreeze, the better will be the quality.
5. How Long Can You Refreeze Chicken?
Chicken cannot sustain at room temperature for a very long time. To ensure the healthy use of chicken, refreezing is crucial. Leftover chicken must be stored in a refrigerator.
Indeed, this technique will maintain its quality for a few days, but not more than that. Cooked chicken lasts longer in the fridge than raw chicken, i.e., 3 to 4 days, but raw chicken will only stay healthy for a day or two.
Raw chicken pieces can be stored in a freezer for at least 9 months, and a whole chicken can last for up to a year. However, this highly staple food can go longer in a freezer without defrosting chicken. Cooked chicken only for 2 to 6 months. The temperature of the freezer must be roughly 0°F or -18°C.
Food safety matters. It is entirely safe to refreeze the defrosted chicken until using proper methods. When storing raw chicken, it is best to use leakproof containers to prevent leaking and contamination of its juices with other food items. Cooked chicken must also be refrigerated in an airtight container. Airtight packaging can help prevent freezer burn that can cause adverse effects such as change of taste, color, and even texture.
6. How To Detect Spoiled Chicken?
Packaged chicken is just best by the expiry date labeled. Eating spoilt chicken can cause adverse side effects such as diarrhea, a stomach infection, vomiting, nausea, chills, high fever, bloody stools, dehydration, and food poisoning.
Several cases have been reported of people dying of extreme food poisoning. This is due to the contamination of the spoiled chicken with bacteria such as campylobacter, salmonella, and more. Contamination by these bacteria can be minimized by cooking fresh chicken thoroughly but using the chicken even after the expiry date is not recommended.
6.1. Some Other Significant Factors Involving the Detection of Spoiled Chicken Are:
- Change in color: When your chicken starts to show a grey-greenish color, it cannot be used further. It indicates bacterial growth, which can lead to food poisoning.
- Sour smell: Raw or cooked; in both cases, chicken produces an acidic smell resembling ammonia as it goes wrong. But this symptom cannot be used as the primary method to detect spoiled chicken. Once the chicken is marinated with various substances, it is tough to detect it.
- Slimy texture: Chicken with a slimy appearance must be discarded. It has gone wrong, and rinsing them will only result in unnecessary cross-contamination. Identifying spoiled chicken is vital as it helps prevent foodborne bacteria from spreading from poultry to other foods via utensils.
7. Frequently Asked Questions
7.1. Can You Store Raw Chicken in The Fridge?
Yes, the maximum amount of raw meat can be stored in the fridge for 1 to 2 days.
7.2. For how Long Can You Refreeze Chicken?
It lasts longer in the fridge than raw chicken, up to 3 to 4 days.
7.3. Can You Refreeze Chicken when Spoiled?
No, spoiled chicken must be discarded immediately.
7.4. Can You Refreeze Chicken when Cooked?
Wasting food is entirely unacceptable when you can quickly freeze the leftovers. Freezing chicken is not a big deal, following a few guidelines and considering potential risks. You can also opt for using the fillets in a soup, stew, or even casserole.
7.5. Can You Refreeze Chicken when Frozen?
As denoted by the USDA, frozen meat can be refrozen without much damage when appropriately handled with the utmost care.
8. Final Note
Re-heating chicken might kill some surface bacteria but leaves behind all the toxins released by them, which can still cause food poisoning. Leaving chicken in the fridge for more than a few days will spoil them. So, can you refreeze the chicken?
Yes, it is always beneficial to use fresh chicken and store extra chicken in the fridge for only a day or two. Chicken is a staple food in many households, and thus care must be taken in preparing, storing, and discarding them.
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