Date: May 1989 (April 1995)
Source: NDSU Extension Service Nutrition Specialists
The basis for safety in refreezing foods is the temperature at which thawed foods have been held and the length of time they were held after thawing. You can safely refreeze foods that still contain ice crystals or if they are still cold, below 40 degrees F, and have been held no longer than one or two days at this temperature after thawing. In general, if it is safe to eat it is safe to refreeze.
Unfortunately the time and temperature are often unknown. In these cases the following points need to be considered:
-- Do not open the door to check items, make a plan first.
-- Try to determine, if possible, when the freezer may have stopped working.
-- Food in a closed, fully loaded freezer will keep for two days.
-- Food in a closed less-than-half-loaded freezer won't keep longer than one day.
-- Meat, because of density, will remain frozen longer than baked goods.
-- Foods in a larger, well-stocked freezer, will stay frozen longer.
If the freezer will not be operational within a day or two: use dry ice if available. Twenty-five pounds of dry ice in a 10 cubic foot freezer should hold the temperature below freezing for two to three days with less than half a load and three to four days in a fully loaded cabinet if dry ice is obtained quickly following interruption of freezer operation.
Place dry ice on boards or heavy cardboard on top of packages. Open freezer only when necessary. Don't handle dry ice with bare hands as it will cause burns. When using dry ice be sure the room is ventilated.
If dry ice is not available, other options are to:
Cover the freezer with layers of newspaper and blankets. Pin the blankets away from the air vent. The air vent must be open because air is needed when electricity comes on. A blanket cover will help even when dry ice is used.
Find other freezer storage at a locker plant or with friends and neighbors. Transfer foods in insulated boxes or well-wrapped in layers of newspapers.
If you require further information, please contact your county office of the NDSU Extension Office.
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For More Information Contact your North Dakota County Extension Office of the NDSU Extension Service for additional information or see our main NDSU Web Page for publications and articles on Agriculture, Horticulture, Youth and Family, Business and Community and Food and Nutrition at http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/