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Food hygiene question

I have lump of beef in the freezer but don't want to use it all. Is it OK to microwave it on defrost just until it's possible to cut in half (the meat is still frozen) and then put half of it back in the freezer? The "re-frozen" piece will be used in a well cooked stew...

if not, why not? what are the concequences?

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  1. If you don't have access to a bandsaw - which is what I would use to cut the frozen slab in two after cleaning the blade with alcohol - then don't defrost in the microwave. Microwaves do not "defrost", they "cook" the meat. If you must thaw it quickly, place in a plastic bag in cold, slighting running, water (not hot or warm) until the meat is pliable enough to cut. Wrap both pieces and then re-freeze.

    3 Replies
    1. re: KiltedCook

      Could you please explain what you mean by, 'Microwaves do not "defrost", they "cook" the meat'? I've used a microwave to defrost meat many times and there was never any indication that the meat was cooked. In fact the meat always seems still semi-frozen.

      1. re: KTinNYC

        It's easy to semi-cook rather than defrost if you are not vigilant when microwave-defrosting. Go ahead and nuke if you are confident in your microwave but if your intended use for the first "half" is appropriate for thinner/smaller pieces, cut off the exterior all the way around. Then you won't need to defrost the innermost area at all, whether you use the microwave or cold-water method.

        1. re: greygarious

          Good point, greygarios. If you check your meat closely after running it through a "thaw" cycle in the microwave you'll find hot spots at various points of its surface. Those hot spots have actually begun to cook, while the remainder of the product hasn't advanced to the same level of heat absorption so it's simply "thawed" or less cooked. Microwave thawing is, IMHO, suitable for an entire piece of meat I intend to cook immediately but I wouldn't use it for something I intend to use a portion of before refreezing. Plan ahead. You can cut a large roast into smaller roasts and freeze them individually to serve the number of people you typically expect for dinner. If you need to feed a greater number of people you can always cook two of the smaller roast instead of finding yourself trying to divide a frozen hunk of meat that's too big for your usual family dinner.

    2. The reason we were always told not to refreeze thawed meat is because most people temperature abuse it when they defrost it. If you put it right back in the freezer after a small amount of time out of the freezer (2-3 h) you should be okay.

      1. I usually let it thaw half-way, then break it apart and freeze what I want. I just keep trying until I can break it. Technically still frozen.

        1. You don't say what type of "lump of beef you have. Is it stew meat? Hamburger? Chuck roast? Tenderloin? This would make a difference in how you handle it and what answers you get.


          1. No.

            Less to do with food safety, than with food texture and taste.

            1. All this work to divide a big piece of frozen anything into smaller pieces? I saw it frozen hard, with a hacksaw. The colder the easier. With a borrow from a country western song, "if sawin' you is wrong, I don't want to be right".

              1. I have no answer , but I do have a question, which is sort of argumentative, but I will humbly defer to people who know something about food safety. If the microwaved meat gets a little hotter in some places than others (i.e., "hotspots"), but you put the unused portion right back into the freezer, won't it refreeze before there is any threat of bacteria multiplying to the point of being harmful?

                All my life, I've been reading, "Do not refreeze," but it doesn't make sense to me, unless you leave the food out so long that it becomes a bacterial playground.

                It seems to me that texture would be more of a concern than food safety. After you thaw food a bit and refreeze it, ice crystal shards have punctured the cell walls, causing liquid to run out of them and making the texture of the meat (or whatever) mushy the next time that you thaw it out. This comes from someone with no scientific background.

                1. Hygiene is not a concern as long as you don't cross-contaminate, but that's another discussion.

                  As others have said, the real issue is texture and the risk of slightly cooking the meat in the microwave. Much better to just cook it all and then freeze the unused portion of the finished product.

                  What cut of beef are you working with?