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How can you safely thaw and refreeze food?

Can we really thaw and refreeze our leftovers?

Plenty of parents cook in big batches and freeze what they can’t finish to eat at a later date—it saves plenty of time and is super convenient as well. But once you’ve thawed out a once-frozen meal, can you refreeze it again?

Food editor Rick Martinez and chef instructor Rick Martinez tells Huffington Post that you can keep refreezing and re-thawing food. But there’s a caveat—you can thaw and refreeze food, but you probably shouldn’t.

thaw and refreeze Photo: US Department of Agriculture/Flickr

Why not? There are two main reasons:

1. Thawing and re-freezing makes your food mushy

This is because the water in your food expands during freezing and changes the consistency of your food. You can probably get away with refreezing soup as it’s mostly water, but with meats and other dishes, you’re probably going to end up with a sloppy, pathetic mess.

2. Thawing and re-freezing introduces bacteria

Freezing does stop bacteria from growing, but it doesn’t kill bacteria that’s already there. And when we thaw our food, we introduce more bacteria.

But sometimes, we do need to refreeze food, just so we don’t waste anything. You might get away with it if you do it the right way.

Go to the next page to find out how to properly thaw and freeze your food.

Here are some tips on freezing and thawing from Bon Appetit and Huffington Post to ensure that you do it correctly:

Freezing

1. Don’t freeze in glass jars

That is, unless you know that they’re freezer-safe. Opt for plastic containers and freezer bags instead.

2. Never use hot water to defrost something

You might accidentally cook the frozen food, which will change its texture and flavor.

3. Wait for hot food to cool down to room temperature before putting them in the freezer

But don’t wait too long. Give it a few hours to cool down but don’t leave anything overnight to cool.

Thawing

1. Move it from your freezer 6-8 hours before you plan to eat it

If it’s something bigger like a whole chicken, you might need more time to let it thaw.

2. If you failed to do that, use water to speed up the process

Run the food (still in a sealed container) under room temperature tap water. This helps your food thaw faster.

3. If you use a microwave, cook and eat it immediately

As microwaves heat foods unevenly, this works best for soups.

READ: 11 Foods you don’t need to store in your fridge

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