On occasions, we have all removed gigantic and mouth-watering turkeys from the freezer to thaw, only for our plans to be immediately halted due to various unforeseen circumstances. However, turkeys aren’t cheap, and it would be an unnecessary waste to dispose of the bird after having just thawed, leading people globally to wonder if it is safe to refreeze them for another time.
As many previously assumed, refreezing a thawed turkey is not a dangerous practice. However, while it is safe to refreeze a thawed turkey, you should follow a short series of safety steps to ensure that the bird will be edible later.
It is important to know how long the turkey can stay frozen, exactly how to refreeze the turkey, and alternative ways it can be safely thawed.
Over the last decade, refreezing thawed turkey has been considered a safe practice despite being taboo for many generations. Defrosted turkey is safe to refreeze a. However, you’ll need to follow a few critical safety steps, which we will discuss below.
When Is It Safe To Refreeze Thawed Turkey?
It is entirely safe to refreeze a partially or fully thawed turkey. However, the turkey will only remain safe if it is put in the refrigerator to thaw.
As a general guideline, thawed smoked turkeys can be safely refrozen if necessary. However, how the turkey was initially thawed and stored will directly influence the safety of the refreezing process.
Don’t refreeze the turkey if more than two days have lapsed after being completely defrosted.
Temperatures to Avoid
The turkey should not be exposed to room temperature for more than two hours to prevent bacteria build-up. Conversely, turkeys thawed in the microwave or freezing water cannot be safely refrozen as it has been exposed to unsafe temperatures.
Thawed turkeys should not reach temperatures higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, as that is the point where bacteria start to breed and exponentially multiply, rendering it unsafe to refreeze the bird.
Can You Refreeze A Partially Thawed Turkey?
While partially and fully thawed turkeys can be safely refrozen, experts recommend defrosting them entirely before refreezing.
The most accurate way to judge if the turkey is completely thawed is by feeling and touching it. The smoked turkey should be soft to the touch, including the inside of its cavity sine that is usually the last place to defrost.
How To Properly Thaw Turkey For Refreezing
There are many ways to thaw a turkey, although it’s best to follow a specific method to ensure that the bird is safe to refreeze.
Below is a step-by-step method to thaw and refreeze a turkey.
First, place the turkey in a plastic freezer-safe bag. The plastic bag will prevent cross-contamination when the turkey is transferred from the freezer to its defrosting location in the refrigerator.
A good practice is placing the plastic freezer safe bag on a specific deep plate or tray, preventing any liquids from leaking onto other food.
It’s important to remember to avoid temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. While modern refrigerators usually maintain a temperature of about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you should ensure your refrigerator sustains an even lower temperature to avoid harmful bacteria build-up.
After the turkey has completely defrosted in the refrigerator, it will be good for up to two days.
However, it is not recommended that the turkey remains in the refrigerator for such a long time as it generally takes more than an entire day to thaw fully.
Assuming it was defrosted correctly, it can be safely refrozen if you cannot prepare it immediately due to unforeseen circumstances.
However, even if properly thawed, the turkey should not be refrozen more than once, as this will dramatically reduce the quality of the bird’s meat.
The Safest Way To Refreeze Smoked Turkey
Freezing a smoked turkey generally seems like a simple task. However, experts recommend that the entire smoked turkey should not be refrozen as a whole but divided into smaller pieces.
Most people that refreeze their thawed turkeys place the entire bird back into the freezer. However, to ensure that the turkey remains edible for later use, remove all the bones and distribute the meat into meal-sized pieces to eat later.
Removing the bones and dividing the turkey into smaller pieces allows the defrosting process to go smoothly.
In addition, the practice will save critical freezer space and retain the texture or flavor quality of the smoked turkey. Experts suggest that turkeys should not be frozen more than once after having been thawed, as it will substantially lessen the quality of the meat once cooked.
Thawed turkeys can be safely refrozen and stored for three months or less. However, the bird may become rotten after three months, and you will want to toss it as it will lose its mouth-watering flavors and may make you sick.
Is Refreezing A Thawed Turkey Recommended?
Experts do not recommend refreezing a thawed turkey, if possible, as the quality of the bird’s meat may be diminished.
While the turkey’s meat may lose some of its revered texture, flavor, and moisture, it is safe to refreeze a defrosted turkey if the situation calls for it.
Many people have mistakenly refrozen a turkey that has been thawed using methods such as cold water, microwaves, and even warm stoves.
While these thawing techniques are not unsafe or unhygienic, a slow defrosting method in the refrigerator works best to refreeze it safely.
Moreover, a thawed turkey should never be left in the refrigerator for more than two days after it has fully defrosted, as this may lead to the bird spoiling.
Defrosted turkeys exposed to room temperature or more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit at any point should instantly be consumed to prevent any serious bacteria build-up.
Lastly, industry experts recommend that thawed smoked turkeys be placed inside a plastic packet or aluminum foil.
Utilizing these protection methods will prevent undesirable cross-contamination while not allowing the meat to be directly exposed to the freezing air trapped in the refrigerator.
As much as we do not want to refreeze a smoked turkey removed from the freezer for the family to consume, occasionally, it is necessary.
Previous generations assumed the practice was unsafe and could lead to severe food poisoning; however, modern food industry experts agree that defrosted turkeys can be safely refrozen when following specific procedures.
There are several technicalities to follow when refreezing turkey. However, the most important thing is to defrost the bird in the refrigerator slowly.
Smoked turkeys thawed by other methods are not always safe to refreeze as it exposes the meat to conditions that encourage exponential and harmful bacteria build-up.