can any ne tell me what's the deal with refreezing? I just had to refreeze a partially thawed chicken. Is it safe to eat? are there any general rules to follow here? thanks all!
Short Answer: it will make your meat have a mushy consistency. It's kinda gross
Long Answer: I'll admit to having done it. Example: I freeze 3 porkschops in a bag. I decide I want to cook one. They're all frozen together. I have no choice but to partially defrost, separate, and throw the 2 I don't want back in the freezer. I try to avoid this by separating my porkchops/chicken breasts/etc. with parchment paper, but sometimes those get welded together too. I try to defrost it as little as possible.
The thing is to never do this repeatedly. The freezing/defrosting/re-freezing/repeat breaks down the meat, ESPECIALLY in seafood. It makes fish and shrimp taste extra fishy and disgustingly mushy. It will do the same to meat; once is okay, if you must.
Then again, I know people who will eat meat that's been frozen and defrosted numerous times. I also know people who don't eat meat that's been frozen, even once. It's personal preference, but a good rule is meat should be frozen once.
Side story: My friend gave me a bag of bulgogi (Korean marinated meat) once, and I didn't have the heart to tell her I thought she was a horrible cook.
One day she she said "I'm so sorry about that bulgogi. I ate itlast night. It was disgusting, huh?" We tried to talk through what went wrong, and basically she had procrastinated about making it for a week, and during that period had taken it in and out of her freezer about four times. Ew!
She said she called everyone else to apologize, and they all said "Why? It was good!" See? Personal preferences.
re: Not really sure
It has nothing to do with bacteria, Proctor and Gamble and the like have turned a large portion of the population into bacterio-phobes, imagining them to be where they are not and being a bigger problem than it is. It is a texture quality thing. Freezing causes the water in the cells of the meat or fish to expand. Defrosting and then refreezing breaks the tissue down further. Repeated freezing and defrosting just deteriorates the quality of the meat or fish, or veggies for that point.
It's both. The bacteria flourish (see above) when meat defrosts, but don't die when it is refrozen. Leading to a cycle of increasing bacteria with each freeze/defrost. And yes, definitely the texture suffers.
But you're totally right about the bacteriophobe thing. I will reluctantly admit to less than by-the-book decontamination procedures in my own home cooking. I'm not going to give more detail than that for fear of alerting the cleanliness police, but I will tell you that I have never ever had a food-borne illness as a result of my home cooking. Never. Ever. Neither has anyone in my family. I use wooden cutting boards, defrost at room temperature, and do other things that would make a restaurant inspector cringe. But the thing is awareness. I understand how bacterial contamination works, am very careful with raw meat juices etc., and I do wash my hands all the time. I think that people have become fearful because they just don't know how things work. So they overreact and use antibacterial soaps and boil their cutlery when it touches the floor and throw out perfectly good cheese because it has a tiny spot of mold in a corner. Please don't misunderstand - it is important to have hygienic standards in food preparation and storage, but I do believe we've gone way overboard.
Far too overboard. I have a friend who has a sister who is a bacteriophobe. Bought into the antibacterial hype and totally ruined her septic system. I have been cooking and preparing meals for over 30 years. I have a degree in Home Ec Ed and have had classes in microbiology, foods microbiology and foods and nutrition as well as chemistry, physiology and abatomy and all the rest. Yes I do defrost foods at room temp and do all the stuff that would make an inspector cringe or write me up. Not either of us or any of our friends has ever suffered from foods that were prepared in my kitchen and I don't intend to change and I'm okay with that.
The fact is that, although freezing does temporarily halt the growth of bacteria, it doesn't kill it. So what happens is that you thaw a chicken, and the resident bacteria which has been in suspended animation like Walt Disney, regroups and begins to multiply. Then you change your mind and send the chicken back to the deep freeze, only this time there is maybe ten times as much bacteria as before. They halt reproducing while frozen but, again, become active when you thaw the chicken again. Now there are gazillions of active bacteria busily multiplying - and so it goes. Repeatedly freezing and thawing meat allows far more bacteria to develop than might have been the case originally, thereby leading to quicker spoilage. The freeze-thaw cycle also damages texture, but this is more a taste issue than a food safety one - and so is more relevant to other types of food like baked goods and veggies.
There will be a test on this next Monday. Class dismissed.