It's a rule that is maintained in nearly every household: as soon as you defrost something, you cannot freeze it again and you need to eat it as quickly as possible. "Nonsense", declares American nutrition expert Tina Hanes. "You CAN freeze defrosted food again, but only if you've defrosted it properly."
"It's one of the questions we get most", according to Hanes. "It is definitely safe to refreeze defrosted food, although under a few conditions." For instance, food should be defrosted the right way. "Whether it's meat, poultry, fish or shellfish. You can refreeze them if they were defrosted in the refrigerator and haven't gone bad."
Hanes emphasizes the importance of defrosting in the refrigerator. "You can never defrost something by leaving it on your countertop, or even worse: defrosting it with warm water. Bacteria love warmth and multiply rapidly at a room temperature. Defrosting something on the countertop is never safe", Hanes stresses.
Defrosting food in the microwave or with cold water is better, but this way you can still not defrost it. "Food that is defrosted this way should immediately be defrosted. And if you use cold water, then leave the food in the plastic foil and replace the water every 30 minutes until it has been defrosted."
Refreezing can only be done if the food has not yet gone bad. "If it smells funny or the texture is sticky or slimy, then throw it away. Don't leave defrosted food in the refrigerator for too long before you eat it: chicken, fish, prawns and shellfish are best consumed no more than a day after they were defrosted in the fridge (which takes about a day)."
Hanes emphasizes that you can put nearly anything in the freezer. "Vegetables, bread, fruit, cake... You can freeze and refreeze anything." However, she warns that the process can alter the texture, the colour and the flavour of your product. "It will probably not look as delicious or taste as nice as when it was fresh."