Sometimes things happen. You may reheat your food and forget it in the microwave when you leave for work or reheat too much of your frozen chicken and realize you don’t need it all.
In general, you should not reheat frozen food twice. However, there are some exceptions and some safe ways to do so without changing the taste or freshness too much.
When Is It Unsafe to Freeze Food Again?
If the food, once thawed, was left for more than several hours, it should probably make its way into the garbage can. When food is frozen, there isn’t a high chance of spoiling agents making their way to the food. Room-temperature food, however, is a bacteria and germ magnet.
When Is It Safe to Freeze Food Again?
If you just heated your food and either realized you cooked too much, weren’t hungry, or needed to save your food for later, you’re totally in the clear. The key is not waiting too long before the first and second freezing.
Reheating Food That Has Been Frozen Twice
If your food has been frozen twice and you’re now reheating it to eat, there are several things to consider. Follow the steps below to make sure you’re doing everything right.
- Reheat as you usually would, but double-check your food is cooked all the way through. Cooking kills germs, so for your safety, check again!
- If the food is something that has the potential to try out, add more moisture. This could mean adding water, butter, milk, or something else. Heating takes away water, so be sure to add it back in.
- Trust your senses. If something tastes, smells, or looks off, don’t eat the food!
What to Expect
Your food is not going to taste like it did the first time around. It just won’t. Some foods like Pasta, Chicken, and Eggs are especially difficult, so you’ll want to follow specific instructions when heating them.
You can add extra seasoning if the food lacks flavor or wrap the food with damp paper towels if it needs moisture. Even still, if your food ends up tasting bland or is strangely chewy, don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Safely Refreezing Food
Despite the difficulties, it is possible to refreeze food. For your safety, read the tips below before freezing again.
- When thawed the first time, keep the food in the refrigerator. If your food is left on the counter, it will not be able to be refrozen.
- Try not to expect the same taste. The chemical makeup of your food has changed, changed, and is changing one more time! If you freeze it, remember it will not taste the same.
- Place your food in an airtight container or bag for freezing. Air is your enemy here. Freezing does not kill germs, so the key to keeping fresh food is keeping germs out!
What to Expect
Your food should refreeze easily, but it will change a good bit in the process. You may want to add seasoning, rice, pasta, butter, or milk to the food you are reheating to add to the flavor. While it won’t taste the same, you can still make it taste decent!
What If My Freezer Was Left Open or Lost Power?
If Your Freezer Was Left Open
Sometimes one of your kids (or maybe you) forgets to shut the freezer door, leading to a lot of mess, lost food, and stress. Unfortunately, if your freezer was left open for more than 3 hours, you’re going to need to cut your losses and protect your health.
It would be dangerous to eat food that thawed for an extended period of time. On the flip side, if it has only been open for a short period of time, you’re probably okay.
If Your Freezer Lost Power
Maybe your town had a big storm and your freezer lost all power for hours. No fear! Your food is probably okay. If the door has remained shut, the food shouldn’t be too thawed.
Lucky for you and all of your poor frozen foods, if the door was closed, the food is fine for up to 48 hours with lost power. If you’re not sure when it went out, check the temperature inside. If it’s 40° or lower, you’re in the clear.
Overall, it’s not super safe to reheat food that has been frozen twice. However, there are a few exceptions like if the food was only thawed for a brief time or if the door remained closed. Be sure to trust your senses and your judgment, and lean on the safer side. If you feel like the food isn’t safe for you to eat, it probably isn’t. Best of luck!