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Refreezing partially thawed chicken?


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8 replies to this topic

#1 CanadianBakin'

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 08:28 PM

My daughters recently unplugged the freezer and it wasn't noticed for 24 hours. I didn't actually see the chicken but my husband said it still had ice crystals on it so I imagine it was at least still cold. It is now refrozen but I want to know if it is safe to use or should I throw it out. It's boneless, skinless breasts that I had frozen on a sheet pan and hadn't bagged yet. I know I've heard something about refreezing meat but I can't remember if it's just a texture issue or if it's actually not safe. I'm really not interested in poisoning my family. :) Thanks.
Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

#2 Daddy-A

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 11:13 PM

My daughters recently unplugged the freezer and it wasn't noticed for 24 hours. I didn't actually see the chicken but my husband said it still had ice crystals on it so I imagine it was at least still cold. It is now refrozen but I want to know if it is safe to use or should I throw it out. It's boneless, skinless breasts that I had frozen on a sheet pan and hadn't bagged yet. I know I've heard something about refreezing meat but I can't remember if it's just a texture issue or if it's actually not safe. I'm really not interested in poisoning my family. :) Thanks.

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I just had a very similar thing happen with our freezer ... except it involved a bottle of vodka knocking the "COLD" dial to a not-so-cold setting. Bottom line, pretty much everything was found in a partially frozen state.

I found just as many sources on the internet that say "don't worry about it" as said "even partially thawed should be tossed." Seems it's really a chicken breast by chicken breast situation.

In the end, I tossed out 4 thighs and a couple backs I was keeping for stock. While I was 90% sure it was okay, the 10% risk of getting sick more important than the few dollars it would take to replace the chicken.

A.

#3 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 17 August 2006 - 12:31 AM

Throw it out...

#4 joesan

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Posted 17 August 2006 - 03:25 AM

Food kept in a closed well-insulated freezer is likely not to have reached an un-safe temperature in that space of time. (Google for the unsafe temperature - I can't quite remember what it is).

It is actually possibly to re-freeze thawed chicken - it just has to have been thawed in a very controlled way. A closed freezer, even though switched off, is such a way. I would say that you can safely use it. But if you want to err on the side of caution don't. Personally I would use it.

#5 sparrowgrass

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Posted 17 August 2006 - 05:14 AM

This is a question we get frequently in the Extension office. USDA says it is ok to refreeze it, as long as it still has ice crystals in it.

Their only caveat is that some things may lose quality, but they will still be safe.
sparrowgrass

#6 Shalmanese

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Posted 17 August 2006 - 05:56 AM

The taste will be affected but it's perfectly safe. Even if you defrosted it to refridgerator temperatures and then froze it again, it would be fine from a food safety perspective.
PS: I am a guy.

#7 ianeccleston

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Posted 17 August 2006 - 08:59 AM

The real issue, as noted above, is loss of quality. The freezing, thawing and refreezing of meat causes ice crystals to form and tear the flesh. This causes loss of moisture when cooking, and texture suffers. For stock you would have been fine -- especially since you would have cooked it for a long time.

(caveat -- I am in no way an expert. This was gleaned from a load of Internet searches one day)

Cheers,

Ian

edited to add: If your freezer was relatively full, that will have further insulated the chicken. If it had been at room temp or for longer period of time I might not have had the same suggestion...

Edited by ianeccleston, 17 August 2006 - 09:02 AM.


#8 ermintrude

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Posted 17 August 2006 - 01:15 PM

So long as it had ice crystals in it will be ok. But not the best texture so use it in something where texture does not matter. Or use to make home ready meals it will still beat the majority of the supermarket rubbish by miles.

Best bet if it happens again it to let it defrost and have a big cook up and then refreeze the fruits of your labour to use when you’re in a hurry.
Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

#9 CanadianBakin'

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Posted 17 August 2006 - 10:03 PM

Best bet if it happens again it to let it defrost and have a big cook up and then refreeze the fruits of your labour to use when you’re in a hurry.

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Very good idea! I'll do that if there's a next time.

Thanks so much to all of you for your input and experience!
Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden