Refreezing Meat

treillw

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Mar 31, 2017
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I've seen various things online about refreezing meat - it hurts it/it doesn't do anything to it. I figured I'd consult the experts :)

A few weeks ago I shot and elk and it was deboned and frozen solid within a few hours as it was 10 below. It's been pretty cold here lately, so it has just been sitting frozen in the garage. I've been thawing it out and processing it since. I have the steaks and roasts cleaned up and in their final resting place in the freezer only having been thawed once. The trim meat I plan on making into burger and sausage is cubed and frozen again, ready to be ground. I wasn't planing on making sausage at the same time as I grind the burger, but I'm thinking maybe I should just do it all at once to avoid extra freezing cycles.

Anyway, have you seen refreezing meat like this affect anything with sausage and burger? How about steaks?

Thanks!
 

CJF

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Jun 11, 2018
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I purposefully freeze and refreeze; and I have never noticed declined quality.
I cube all of my cleaned meat that I will grind for burger/sausage.....I will then partially thaw (allow to thaw enough to pull cubes apart) in order to grind it...by the time I'm through grinding it is completely thawed, then I will freeze it in 1lb bags.. It accomplishes 2 things: 1)allowing me to accumulate meat through the year and spend one day grinding and 2) keeps the grinder cool (no need for feeding ice with it).
 

BigAntlerGetter

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We freeze and thaw when needed for processing. We used to freeze and thaw our deer meat several times to help reduce the gamey taste


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Becca

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Never thought about that, do you think it is because that process bleeds the flesh leaving purer meat?
I think this might absolutely be true. The volume of blood that comes out of frozen quarters when you thaw them is impressive. Have done it several times with caribou, and the meat quality afterwards was awesome.
 

Desk Jockey

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Freezing creates ice crystals internally in the cells of the meat that can pierce and pulverize cell walls. That blood you see after thawing is a good part myoglobin and water from the meat that is released when the ice crystals rupture the tissue at the cellular level. There is a lot of published research on this and opinions seem to vary on whether it is harmful to the taste or texture of the meat. Consensus seems to be that it is not a good thing for a variety of reasons and it may promote freezer burn. However, assuming the thawed meat is kept below a temperature and for a time where bacterial growth is a concern, it really is a matter of preference. There is some culinary perspectives that suggest freezing dishes like chili and tomatoe sauces helps distribute flavors throughout the dish by smashing the vegetables cell structures but I don’t know if the logic carries to meat. I don’t make a habit of freezing and thawing except when processing for grinding. When it happens unintentionally, I can’t say I have noticed much difference other than more pink liquid / myoglobin.
 

Azone

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Freezing will rupture the tissue cells and allow more fluid to drain. I have never had a problem refreezing meat. What you do from the moment it dies till the moment it hits the freezer is crucial in my opinion.
But then again there will be times when a animal is just a chewy, nasty, tasting critter no matter what you do.
 

zacattack

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Aug 23, 2018
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Michigan
I've seen various things online about refreezing meat - it hurts it/it doesn't do anything to it. I figured I'd consult the experts :)

A few weeks ago I shot and elk and it was deboned and frozen solid within a few hours as it was 10 below. It's been pretty cold here lately, so it has just been sitting frozen in the garage. I've been thawing it out and processing it since. I have the steaks and roasts cleaned up and in their final resting place in the freezer only having been thawed once. The trim meat I plan on making into burger and sausage is cubed and frozen again, ready to be ground. I wasn't planing on making sausage at the same time as I grind the burger, but I'm thinking maybe I should just do it all at once to avoid extra freezing cycles.

Anyway, have you seen refreezing meat like this affect anything with sausage and burger? How about steaks?

Thanks!
You may lose some firmness, like others have the water that’s freezing is creating ice crystals that are destroying cells and the structure of the muscle. You’re going to risk losing a lot of the juiciness of the meat, with this moisture loss you can also speed up freezer burn. It can also get kinda of mushy.

Just be careful and don’t get the meat over 40 C, or you’ll start microbial growth and spoilage.
 

tdot

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Aug 18, 2014
Messages
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Never had an issue freezing/thawing wild game. But I'm always careful to allow it to thaw slowly, and never let it lose its' chill. If the meat reaches anything above fridge temp, it's on the menu asap.

Now I have experienced problems with store bought meat. After reading the comments about the ice structure breaking down cells, I wonder if the noticeable problems are a result of how much more water tends to be in grocery store meat?
 

Larry Bartlett

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Feb 13, 2013
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my tests suggest its the type of red meat we're talking about, which dictates the amount of lipids in and around the meat. But the higher that fat the less stable for refreezing meat. Other deciding factors is how clean the meat is before it's frozen once!

It's all about fat rancidity, and fatty meat doesn't thaw and refreeze with equality. The leaner the meat the better your chances for not tasting funky or getting sick. If it smells right when thawed the second time around, grill it slightly longer to medium well if it worries ya.

poultry...never refreeze.

The reason why for both scenarios is bacteria types, molecular nature of the meat, and temperature flux sensitivity. To really simplify it.
 

Kevin Dill

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Aug 26, 2014
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With respect to red meat from wild game:

I've frozen....thawed....cut & wrap....refrozen meat without any problems. Some of the basics include good meat handling technique and hygiene at all times. Try to minimize the amount of time meat is thawed. Inspect carefully and remove anything that looks suspicious. "If in doubt, trim it out". And did I mention hygiene? Bacterial contamination is a given, but less is better and less time for growth is essential.

I do know from my biology, anatomy and physiology, and microbiology classes that freezing muscle tissue does cause a certain amount of cellular damage (rupture) and fluid loss. Translate that to lost meat juices for culinary purposes. Most of the time it won't be evident, as much wild game meat is cooked in methods and dishes where juiciness (in the actual bite of meat) isn't required. On the other hand, a refrozen tenderloin steak taken from the grill may be somewhat less juicy compared to one which is cut once and frozen once. It's part of why most really prime beef isn't frozen before it gets to the butcher....maximum juice and flavor potential are retained.
 

Tony Trietch

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By the nature of my fall schedule every year, most all of my critters get frozen soon after kill and then thawed at home later to be processed. I have never noticed any difference.
 

camping1601

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Nov 13, 2014
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The U. S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) advises:
Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods. If previously cooked foods are thawed in the refrigerator, you may refreeze the unused portion. Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days. Do not refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F.
 
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