RE-freezing chicken?

I have found myself with 80…yes 80 lbs of frozen boneless skinless breasts. They are currently frozen in 10 lb packages. We will have a hard time eating 10 lbs at a time so I’d like to thaw, separate, and refreeze.

I remember in my youth that Mom taught me never ever refreeze chicken; however, I’ve purchased partially frozen chicken breasts in the refrigerated section of the grocery store and taken them home, repackaged, and refrozen without incident.

What say you?

The only thing that refreezing meat does is “beat up” the texture a bit. Every time you freeze meat, you damage the cells a bit by freezing them, so don’t expect the texture to be quite the same as fresh or once-frozen, but I doubt it’ll be noticeably different.

Exactly right.

Besides, if you can thaw them to the point were they still have ice crystals in the flesh, a subsequent freeze will be unnoticeable in taste or texture.

Very good point! Thaw them as little as you can manage to reduce the damage done.

Really, you aren’t going to be hurting chicken breasts much by freezing them twice. Something more delicate like fish would be much more noticeable.

I think the criticism of repeated freeze-thaw cycles would be for more than a couple times, or for thinking that you can leave something in the fridge for quite a while, freeze it, return it to the fridge, refreeze after a while, etc. Freezing doesn’t, IIRC, destroy any toxins that bacteria might make, so freezing something doesn’t return the food to a “clean slate.”

The other option would be to cook them, then re-freeze. Freezing cooked meat doesn’t have as big of a change in texture as raw. I’d consider doing something like grilling an entire 10# bag, cutting them into strips, and freezing them in small portions to add to salads, sandwiches, soups, etc.

Or you could make shredded chicken to use in tacos/burritos/etc, just stew them with your favorite salsa until they fall apart and shred. Once again, freeze in small portions. Chicken breasts aren’t the most flavorful cut for this, but it’ll work, and if I had 80# of them I’d use them for it.

Chicken has the notorious reputation of being contaminated by salmonella. If you allow the chicken boobs to thaw completely, and then re-freeze, you run the risk of having a rampant salmonella culture in the product.

I vote for cooking it all up, then packaging it for future meals. VERY handy, and quite the time saver if you work outside the home.

Honestly–how many recipes do you have that start out, “Take two cups of diced, cooked chicken…”

I’ve had no issues with getting a large frozen portion of meat, thawing it, splitting it into smaller portions, and refreezing. As above, the trick is not to let the meat completely defrost before refreezing. Basically, I just run cool-to-tepid water over the meat and do my best to separate into the portion sizes that would be useful to me.

Unless you’re planning on eating it without cooking it first, Salmonella probably isn’t going to be a problem. Salmonella isn’t necessarily killed by freezing, but it is killed by cooking to the proper temperature.

Of course, like anything food-safety-related, there are no guarantees. But I don’t see any more risk in thawed-and-refrozen chicken breasts that I don’t also see in uncooked vegetables, and most of us aren’t going out of our way to avoid those.

Thanks, all. I think I will do a combination of both … cooking some and freezing and partially thawing the rest, repackage and refreeze. In my mom’s kitchen, that was one of those things that are Never Done[sup]TM[/sup] so I’m grateful for the advice.

Just got my copy of the Ohio Farm Bureau magazine and what do I find on page 25? This tidbit, from the US Food Safety Inspection Service: “It’s OK To ReFreeze! You’ve planned a holiday meal, then find out the guests have to cancel. Raw meat (or poultry) can be safely refrozen, but only if it was thawed in the refrigerator and not left outside the refrigerator longer than two hours. If the meat or poultry was previously frozen, there may be a decrease in quality when frozen a second time.”

So, as long as you thaw in the fridge, you can refreeze. Perfect timing for that article, and so odd…I read your post earlier today at work, came home and got the mail…I NEVER read this magazine, but it was virtually the first thing I saw when I flipped through it!

<cue Twilight Zone music> :slight_smile:

If you adhere to certain time and temperature standards, even hot-water bath thawing can be safe - but they’re aiming for quick-thawing all the way for purposes of cooking. Thawing in the fridge - watch for chicken packages leaking out fluids, so I’d thaw in some kind of container - or under a stream of cool water for the pulling-apart-sorta-frozen portion should be fine for your purposes.