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Nov 12, 2011 02:27 PM

re-freezing meat?

I am thawing a pound of ground lamb that I plan on making meatballs with (it's just about thawed now). The thing is, I really don't want to use the entire pound--it would just be too much for my purposes. Would it be okay to use half and and then refreeze the other half? My feeling is that this would be okay, as long as I used the re-frozen half-pound in an application where I'm cooking it a lot (like a ragu). What do you guys think? I'd love to be able to by meat in smaller portions, but I get it at a farmers' market and it's prepackaged and frozen already.

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  1. Can you do it....?

    Should you do it....well that has an answer with many camps.

    I personally have no issue doing it as long, as you state, the refrozen portion is cooked thoroughly to ensure food safety. With that in mind, many of those "food safety" folks abhor the thought of it, yet if the twice frozen meat is cooked above the threshold of microbes per that cut or type of meat, I have yet to see the science behind the issues.

    I buy salmon at my local grocer in so-called "fresh" form and re-freeze unused portions, but where I reside, that fish was likely previously frozen but I don't see the food police gawking about that,.

    All that said, freezing (unless flash frozen) in and off itself tears down cell walls due to ice crystal formation, so freezing twice may compromise the texture and quality of your meat but me that's not a safety issue but an end-product food quality issue.

    So, to surmise, I have done the refreeze many many times, understand the risks and consequences and have yet to make myself or others sick as a result. I have worked around the compromise on quality as you mention so I;d just note the refreeze on the meat package with some type of list or writing.

    4 Replies
    1. re: jjjrfoodie

      Thanks, this was my hunch as well. I've never had much patience with the "food police" attitude--common sense has kept me and mine safe thus far. As for compromising the texture, the meat is ground and I'd be using it in a long-cooked dish anyway, so I doubt I'd even notice.

      1. re: Lady_Tenar

        Yeah I'm 100% with jjjrfoodie. Regarding texture, however, I will say that even with ground meat and even in a long-cooked dish I can usually notice a texture difference between frozen and twice-frozen. It's not the end of the world, but I often save the twice-frozen stuff for meals for one.

        1. re: eight_inch_pestle

          Hmmm...I'm thinking maybe a lamb-and-mushroom ragu for the second half. I figure with that over pasta, polenta, or gnocchi, there will be enough textural diversity that it won't be too noticeable, especially with all the bold flavors in a ragu.

          1. re: Lady_Tenar

            That sounds delightful! I'm sure I wouldn't notice half the time if I didn't know, and I'm sure no one would know with all that other goodness going on. Good luck!

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        1. Best option is to cut it as soon as it's thawed enough to get a knife into and refreeze the second half while there are still ice crystals present.

          Barring that, I'd use it for any of the other options above....OR make a double batch of meatballs and freeze THOSE for later.