If you care about the way your meat tastes, you should never freeze it, thaw it and then refreeze it. We understand that plans change sometimes, and the dinner that you had intended to make at home just doesn’t get cooked ― we need to be flexible in life. But you should know that meat is not so flexible. And it’s never flexible for a second freeze.
Sure, you can still cook twice-thawed meat and eat it safely ― this isn’t a safety issue we’re discussing. According to the USDA, refreezing previously-thawed meat is safe to do, as long as the meat was thawed in the fridge and not out on the counter at room temperature, or worse, in a microwave. You can even call that meat dinner if you like. But you probably won’t enjoy the results, because it’ll be dry and tough.
Cook’s Illustrated did six rounds of tests comparing meat cooked fresh, meat cooked after being frozen and thawed once, and meat cooked after being frozen and thawed twice. Tasters always preferred the meat cooked fresh ― and they found that there was a very noticeable difference in texture and moisture between meat thawed once versus twice.
The reason a double freeze takes such a toll on meat is because freezing water inside the meat’s protein cell physically changes the shape of it. So the more you do that, the more noticeable the change. And no amount of gravy on top is going to hide that.
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