frozen foodPhoto: BravissimoS (Shutterstock)

Freezing food is a great way to keep it fresh if you buy it in bulk. However, once thawed, it is not always safe to refreeze them. Often the answer to the question: “Can I freeze this again?” is “it depends.”

In general, you shouldn’t refreeze something if you have doubts about how safely it was kept during thawing. If something has been outside at room temperature for too long, refreezing won’t necessarily kill the bacteria that grew during that time.

The other reason to be careful about freezing is for texture. Every time a product is frozen – especially meat and products – cell walls are broken open. This is why frozen foods don’t always taste as good as fresh foods. If you freeze this food again after it has been thawed, even more cell structure will be destroyed.

Raw meat, poultry and seafood

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service says that it’s okay to refreeze raw meat as long as it’s been defrosted at refrigerator temperature. You should never thaw meat at room temperature anyway – not on the counter or in a garage, basement, car, or any other location that isn’t kept cold all the time.

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Ice cream

When the ice has softened a bit on the table and it’s still cold, you can put it back in the freezer. But when ice melts, it’s not worth saving.

First there is the safety problem: if you leave a carton of ice cream at room temperature, the melted part can get warm enough for Listeria bacteria to grow.

Second, it will never get that creamy texture again. The whole concept of ice cream is based on the idea of ​​mixing a milk mixture while you are freezing it. Think about it: if you could just freeze the ice cream dough and make ice cream, the device known as an “ice cream maker” wouldn’t have to exist. Frozen ice is rock hard and not fun to eat.

Cooked meat and other foods

Once the food is cooked, it only has a few days left in the refrigerator before it goes bad. If you freeze it during this time, the freezer will act as a pause button in the process. This allows you to refreeze cooked food that you have thawed, but put it back in the freezer immediately within 2 to 4 days.

Proper handling is also required here. Throw away your leftovers if they’ve been room temperature for two hours or more, or if they’ve been above 90 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour or more.

Even if you think this could save you a few bucks, knowing when to just toss something is important. Rules like these are used in the restaurant and food industries, so it only makes sense to treat the food in your home with the same level of care.