Thursday, February 19, 2009

Re-freeze or cook? That's the question

My Granny Ruby always said that you shouldn't re-freeze thawed meat. My Mom's always said that re-freezing meat is OK.

Who's right? Well ...

According to the USDA, when raw meat is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking. For this reason, it's perfectly OK to purchase, say, a previously frozen piece of salmon from Trader Joe's, and then put it in your freezer when you get home.

But if you refreeze thawed poultry or meat, you will be compromising quality of taste and texture. Not only does meat lose water during the defrosting process, but refreezing it also creates ice crystals within the structure of the meat that alter its fibers, leaving an unfortunately dry cut of meat.

Of course, like all raw animal protein, the true safety of the product will depend on whether it's been properly handled. The best ways to defrost raw meat are in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave — not on a room-temperature kitchen counter.

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