Poultry meat is consumed in almost every part of the world. Not only does it exist almost anywhere, but it is also one of the most consumed types of meat in the world. Thus there must be a lot of inquiries when it comes to storage and preparation, including “Can I refreeze chicken?”
This article will cover
- Freezing Chicken
- Refreezing Chicken: Is It Okay?
- The Three Safe Thawing Methods
- Things To Avoid When Defrosting
- The Changes Whenever You Refreeze Chicken Meat
- Tips on Refreezing and Storing Your Chicken Meat
- How Long Can You Keep Chicken Inside The Freezer?
As one of the most consumed meats globally, chickens play a considerable role in the lives of many. Many people around the world also love chicken. In fact, when most children are asked what their favorite dish is, they would most likely say fried chicken or a dish made with chicken.
Many dishes are made with chicken as generations pass by with time. Cooking and storing methods have also evolved and come a long way as technology and innovation are incorporated into this daily activity.
There are a lot of ways to keep chicken meat. One of the most popular is through freezing. This is done with the technological innovation called the refrigerator. Thanks to this invention, we can produce ice or a colder environment where we can store food without actually going to a colder place.
Whenever a household has extra uncooked chicken to spare, it goes to the fridge. However, there is a right way to store your chicken meat in the freezer. First, be sure to wrap it up so the cold air will not dry it out.
You can take out your chicken when you are ready to cook it. Place it inside the microwave and press the “defrost” option. You can also opt for placing it inside the fridge overnight. Take note to thoroughly defrost it and not leave any cold lumps inside the chicken. You also need to cook it within 24 hours.
Refreezing Chicken: Is It Okay?
There are times when you thaw chicken and suddenly change your mind. Suddenly, you don’t want to have chicken for your meal anymore. In these cases, you might ask if it’s okay to refreeze a thawed chicken. Well, the answer is both a yes and a no.
Yes, you can refreeze it within a certain amount of time. It would be best if you immediately refroze it as long as you realize that you won’t be using it. Well, there can be times when you know it is too late; what do you do by then? There’s a limit as to up until how long you can refreeze your chicken and with other factors affecting it too.
The first factor is time, and some of the other factors are the environment and temperature. When you have thawed your chicken in the fridge, you have up to one to two days when you can still refreeze it.
The refrigerator is also cool, but by that time, your meat may be contaminated by bacteria. When your meat has reached two days inside the fridge, it’s time to take it out and do not use it anymore.
However, it’s a different story when you thaw the chicken at room temperature, for example, on your kitchen counter. It’s not advisable, and it’s easier for the meat to go bad. Another factor involved in the handling of the meat is cleanliness. It’s important to note that cleanliness is essential, especially in preparing food.
Another factor is the temperature of the environment in which the chicken was thawed. You should not refreeze chicken that’s been thawed in areas with temperatures higher than 5 degrees celsius. You can only refreeze thawed chicken that has been stored in places less than 5 degrees celsius and in the maximum span of 24 hours.
The Three Safe Thawing Methods
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the following are the three safe thawing methods:
- Refrigeration – This is when you thaw inside the fridge. It’s important to note that this is the safest way to thaw your chicken. Make sure that the temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or 4.4 degrees celsius.
- Cold Water – This method is easy but will require patience and extra effort. The first step is to prepare cold water where you can submerge your frozen chicken. Extra effort is needed as you will need to be replacing the cold water every 30 minutes.
- Microwave – This is one of the quick ways to defrost a chicken. You only need to place your chicken in a microwave-safe dish before putting it inside the microwave and clicking the defrost button/switching to the defrost setting. Make sure also to rotate to secure a proper and even thaw.
It’s important to note that defrosting chicken in a cold environment like in cold water and defrosting through microwaving still allows some harmful bacteria to nest, grow, and contaminate the meat. Thus, if you ever decide to defrost using either of both methods, be sure to cook the chicken before refreezing.
Things To Avoid When Defrosting
While there are things advised, there are also things that are not recommended. There are methods people may think are harmless but actually pose a danger to them and their health.
- Do not defrost on the countertop – Bacterias are present and thrive at room temperature. When you defrost at room temperature, bacteria contaminate the chicken. Meat left at room temperature for too long should not be used. Consequently, it should never be refrozen as well.
- Do not rinse chicken in running water – Running water can cause a lot of splashes not only on your counter but in the nearby vicinity too. Rinsing your chicken in running water can cause bacteria to be splashed around the counter, utensils, kitchen floor, and in other places. This increases the risk of cross-contamination.
The Changes Whenever You Refreeze Chicken Meat
Of course, when people freeze and refreeze chicken, some changes occur. As the chicken meat undergoes the process of going back and forth to the freezer, the water content changes too. As you freeze and refreeze the chicken meat, it loses its moisture. Of course, as the process repeats, more moisture is lost, and so forth.
This gives the consumer an idea of what it means to buy frozen chickens in markets. While they are kept there, moisture is already lost. And so, they can calculate how to dry further the chicken gets as they take the chicken meat home, freeze it, and refreeze it.
Tips on Refreezing and Storing Your Chicken Meat
There is always a right way to do processes. This is true in our food preparation and storage. As mentioned earlier, moisture is affected as well as the overall quality of the chicken meat. In these cases, is there a way to maximize the freshness and keep chicken meat in the best quality possible? The following are some tips.
- Refreeze as quickly as possible – In other words, you need to refreeze the thawed chicken as soon as possible while it’s still in its peak quality. The quicker you decide that you are not using the chicken and refreeze it, the more essence and freshness you get to retain.
- Freeze quick – This means that you do not slow down when freezing chicken. Slow freezing can cause lumps, large ice crystals to form. These can cause the chicken to be dry and tough.
- Use shallow containers – As mentioned above, you need to get your chicken meat frozen quickly. A way to help speed up the process is by placing the meat in a shallow container.
- Keep it at 0°F (-18°C) – Make sure the temperature is 0°F or -18°C when you store your chicken meat to prevent spoilage and retain the quality.
- Use air-tight packaging – This helps in preventing the meat from having freezer burns. Freezer burns are caused by prolonged exposure to air. Why avoid freezer burns? These burns have an impact on the chicken’s taste, color, and texture.
How Long Can You Keep Chicken Inside The Freezer?
Chicken has been a popular source of meat for as long as people can remember. It has paved its way to becoming one of the staple meats in the majority of households around the world. While they are pretty much easy to buy, prepare and delicious to eat, it has a high risk of bacteria contamination. This is why the processes involving this meat should be done correctly.
Refrozen chicken can be kept for as long as 9-12 months with it maintaining its quality. On the other hand, cooked chicken can last for as long as four months. It’s important to take note that you should refreeze a thawed chicken as soon as possible and cook it all up as you can use them for as long as 4-12 months.
“Can I refreeze chicken?” The answer can be pretty tricky as it depends on a couple of factors and situations. Nevertheless, knowing the details is essential to ensure healthy meals and healthy life. The process of freezing and thawing has more to it than what people have been assuming all along.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch.