For a person like me who is prone to food poisoning, I take extra care when comes to cooking. I used to cook when I were study in overseas. Much of the tips I learned it from my house mates and my mum. As I bought grocery including meats once a week, I put them in the freezer.
Today, let’s look at some tips about freezing and thawing of food. Food should never be thawed at room temperature. Instead, they should be thawed using one of these three ways:
- In a refrigerator
- In a microwave
- Immersed in cold water
Why can’t we thaw meat at room temperature? When foods are defrosted at room temperature the surface of the food can quickly warm up. If held above this temperature for more than two hours, harmful microorganisms or their toxins will increases, which can lead to food poisoning when consumed. Those at highest risk for food borne illness include infants and young children, pregnant woman, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.
Therefore, the safest way to thaw meat is in a refrigerator. When defrosting by microwave, food often starts to cook, creating warm spots where bacteria could potentially grow. It is therefore recommended that food defrosted in a microwave be cooked immediately. It can then be consumed or stored in the fridge for later use.
I do not recommend you to completely thaw meat and then refreeze it. Instead, you should completely cook the meat and then freeze it.
So, the next time you have leftover pasta sauce which has beef and pork, can you cook it, then froze it, defrost it and cook again? In other words, you may wonder whether you can refreeze leftovers more than one time. Refreezing leftovers more than once is not recommended. Your leftover pasta sauce should be frozen and reheated only once. The key is to freeze in several small portions rather than one large batch and take out only what you need. When you do reheat the frozen sauce, be sure to bring it to a boil before serving. Also, ensure that they are cooked thoroughly by stirring them during cooking.
How about ice cream, is it safe to eat ice cream after it has melted and then been refrozen? Unlike pasta sauce, ice cream is a perishable food product that needs to be kept frozen. Therefore, it is not recommended to eat thawed ice cream. If it was left at room temperature for longer than two hours, it may have spoiled with microorganisms that cause foodborne illness. In fact, the texture of the ice cream after refreezing may not be that good anymore.
Here are some summarized guidelines to help determine what you should keep and what to throw away:
- Do not refreeze highly perishable foods such as fish, seafood, melted ice cream, cream pies or custard fill pastries.
- Meat can be refrozen if it feels firm, contains ice crystals or is partially frozen. Rigid containers have to be opened and inspected for adequate ice crystals.
- If meat packages look like meat juices have leaked through – discard. Discard any foods that have been contaminated by raw meat juices from other packages.
- Refreeze vegetables only if they have plenty of ice crystals present.
- If you are in doubt, throw it out!
Last small little tip, if you have too much food in your fridge, write down the date on your leftovers.
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