Freezing and defrosting, what you need to know!
Freezing, thawing, refreezing ... The usual precautions are numerous and sometimes conflict with each other so much that the consumer no longer really knows what hygiene rules to observe. The point regarding what to freeze or not, refreeze or not, and when and how to freeze or thaw.
Principle of freezing and thawing
Food contains a number of bacteria that multiply over time. Freezing slows the reproduction of bacteria, but does not stop it completely.
During thawing, bacteria wake up and multiply more than if the food had not been frozen. This is why refreezing and then defrosting food is so dangerous: it is generally highly contaminated, and thus the risk of poisoning increases.
Precautions to be taken while shopping
If you buy frozen products while shopping, make sure you eat them last, before going straight to the checkout to break the cold chain as little as possible. Take an insulated bag for transporting frozen products during the flight.
You can also choose the drive circuit, so the products will spend a minimum of time outside the freezers (no queue at the exit, shortened loading time, etc.)
In case of extreme heat, it is best to take a cooler, even if the trip home is not very long.
How to defrost a meal
The dish is not defrosted in any way and requires some precautions.
If frozen ready meals can be reheated in the oven or in the microwave right out of the freezer, this is not the case for homemade meals that have been frozen. They should be placed, when they come out of the freezer, in the coldest area of the refrigerator to avoid thawing at room temperature, which helps bacteria grow.
Meat and vegetables can be cooked without defrosting. However, a sudden difference in temperature will deplete them of nutrients, because vitamins do not tolerate heat shocks well.
Tips for a successful freezing
Just like defrosting, certain rules must be observed in case of freezing:
Put food in airtight bags or containers and label them with the contents and the date of freezing. This way, you will no longer wonder when you discover Tupperware at the bottom of your freezer and what it could have been and especially when it dates back to…
Wait for the food to cool completely before freezing it.
- Never re-freeze thawed product, unless it has been annealed for a long time.
Do not freeze anything that cannot be frozen or frozen well, such as raw eggs, red fruits, cheese, etc.
- If you freeze liquids such as pancake batter for example, do not fill them to the brim and avoid glass containers: there is a risk of an explosion.
What happens during refreezing?
Re-freezing food is not recommended due to the number of bacteria that multiply in this case.
Since freezing is not instantaneous, since the dish must cool down first, the bacteria still have time to multiply for a few hours before the food is cooled sufficiently to limit their growth.
Re-freeze thawed meat
It is absolutely necessary to avoid re-freezing thawed meat because the risk of poisoning is high.
The only way to refreeze meat that has already been thawed is to re-cook it over high heat in the oven, in a skillet, or over low heat, but not in the microwave.
However, the taste qualities will not be present. Instead of cooking and solidifying to be able to freeze, it's best to try to target only the level of quantities.
Foods that can be re-frozen
Some foods can be refrozen more easily than others, such as: vegetables, uncooked fruit pies, cakes, and bread.
However, to avoid the spread of bacteria, it is recommended that you avoid re-freezing frozen foods, even if this supports re-freezing better.
Precautions to take with ice
Basins and other tubs of ice cream are often taken out of the freezer and put back in again when the ice has already begun to thaw. However, ice made with milk or cream, or even eggs, should not be constantly thawed. It is less dangerous for syrups that consist only of water and fruit.
Therefore, it is better to put the ice cream in ramekins and put it in the freezer immediately before serving, in this way it will not have time to thaw and there will be no health risks.
What to do if the freezer fails?
In the event of a malfunction, if there is not much in the freezer, this is not a disaster, but if it is a case of a chest freezer filled to the brim, this is an even bigger problem.
First of all, check the defrost condition: did the ice cream melt? Is the food core still frozen? Are the edges only unfrozen?
If in doubt, it is better to get rid of it. If the food barely has time to thaw, then only the meat and fish will be discarded and the other food will be cooked for a long time and at a high temperature during its preparation.
Shelf life of frozen foods
Frozen foods have a limited shelf life. Just because it's frozen doesn't mean it can be eaten for years.
Here are the main food families and their freezer shelf life:
Fruits and vegetables: about a year
Chicken pieces (drums, fillets), uncooked: 6 months
Pork, lamb or veal: from 6 to 8 months
Beef, bushmeat and poultry: 8 months
Minced meat: from two to three months
Fish and shellfish fillets: 3 to 4 months
Cooked meals (stews, soups): 3 to 4 months
Bread and baguette: 1 month
Cake mix, pancake dough, pastries: two months
Cake: 3 months
Shredded cheese and butter: 3 months