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What Is One Way Food Should Never Be Thawed?

By Team Fetch

January 19, 2024

Answer: Any way that involves leaving it out at room temperature. If you take that risk, you’re likely to get sick.

Freezing food will stop bacteria growing and greatly extend its shelf-life. Scientists even thawed mammoth meat that froze naturally in the icy north over 35,000 years ago. Maybe you lack frozen mammoth steak (…right?), but you still need to know how to thaw food safely.

The freezing process doesn’t kill bacteria, only prevents it from growing. Bacteria will start to thrive once again at temperatures above 40° F, and that can lead to food poisoning.

Now, we hear you. We’ve all been there. You get home and realize you forgot to take your food out of the freezer. Legitimately crushing after a long day at work, but maybe time to order a pizza rather than rush the thawing process.

Read on for Fetch’s tips on the safest ways to thaw food from your freezer. Don’t have Fetch yet? With our shopping app, you can earn free gift cards simply for making your normal grocery store purchases. Download Fetch, snap all your receipts, and you’ll be on your way to earning free gift cards from your favorite retailers, including Whole Foods, Kroger, Amazon, Target, and more.

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Ways You Should Never Thaw Frozen Food

Do not:

  • Thaw food on kitchen worktops or other surfaces at room temperature.
  • Use hot water to speed up the thawing process.
  • Cook food before it is fully defrosted, unless stated on the packaging that it can be cooked from frozen.

And don’t think you can outfox the system if only the core of your food is frozen. The outer layers may have warmed to over 40° F, allowing bacteria to multiply rapidly.

How to Properly Thaw Frozen Food

Learning how to properly thaw frozen food means a little more time waiting, but it should also mean less time being sick. None at all, in fact, and that’s a win in our book.

So which is the proper thawing procedure for frozen food?

Thawing in the fridge should be your top choice. This entails a touch of forward thinking, so it’s handy to work out what you’ll be eating over the next few daysm so you can thaw food overnight in the fridge accordingly.

Beyond using the fridge, an acceptable method for thawing food is:

  • Cold Water: Place your food in an airtight bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, then submerge fully in cold tap water. You’ll want to change the water every half hour or so to stay on the safe side.
  • Microwave: Remove food from any non-microwavable packaging, then put it in the microwave, select the defrost setting, and set the timer. Feel free to break food up as it starts to defrost – just be certain it’s piping hot all the way through before serving.

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Can You Freeze Thawed Meat?

Now you know how to properly thaw frozen food, but can you refreeze food after it has been thawed? More specifically, can you refreeze thawed meat?

You can refreeze thawed meat, but it may not be at its best – at least taste-wise – due to the moisture lost while thawing. The USDA has let everyone know it’s safe to:

  • Refreeze uncooked meat.
  • Refreeze cooked portions of thawed meat that haven’t been used.
  • Refreeze meat that was purchased frozen.

Just a few caveats, though. If you’re freezing leftovers, make sure they go in the refrigerator right away and then get reintroduced to the freezer within 3 to 4 days once you decide on icing them. Food that was left outside the refrigerator for longer than two hours shouldn’t be refrozen – if it was kept in temperatures above 90° F, cut that time limit down to only one hour.

Foods You Shouldn’t Refreeze

While it may be great news about being able to refreeze meat, what about the foods you shouldn’t refreeze under any circumstances? There are a few foods you shouldn’t refreeze, including:

  • Ice Cream: Bacteria that thrive in melted ice cream can live on in your freezer, and the ice cream itself will take on a strange icy texture. Consider this less as bad news and more as an excuse to finish off your half-melted Ben & Jerry’s.
  • Juice Concentrates: These ferment faster than you might think, so enjoy them at their peak and then ditch what’s left – refreezing is a risky idea.
  • Combined Meals: We’re talking about dishes like pot pies, stews, pastas, and such. Once these homemade treats are cooked, enjoy them fresh or save them for the next day.

Images of foods that shouldn't be refrozen, like ice cream and juice concentrates

Make Your Grocery Shopping List Using the Fetch Rewards App to Get the Most Points Possible

Whether you’re buying in bulk to freeze at home or looking to pick up a few essentials, putting together your next grocery shopping list in our grocery app ensures you’re not leaving any Fetch points on the table. You can then redeem your Fetch points for grocery store gift cards and save on your next shopping trip!

Topics: Food and Drink, Shopping Lists


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