What happens when you freeze pork twice is much the same as what happens if you freeze it once. Moisture in the meat solidifies, making the pork hard and cold to touch. Provided you handle the meat properly, freezing pork twice will only affect its taste and texture. However, if you're not careful when thawing frozen pork, you can quickly increase the risk of food poisoning.
Pork and the Danger Zone
Like most meat, pork makes a perfect home for bacteria. Some bacteria release toxins, while others can trigger bacterial infection. Most bacteria is either destroyed or cannot grow below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Above 40 degrees F, bacteria will thrive until the temperature reaches 140 F, when the heat will kill off or inhibit the bacteria. Freezing keeps pork safely out of this "danger zone." Freezing pork twice keeps the meat safe, provided it doesn't spend too long in this "danger zone" between freezing.
Thaws for Thought
Ideally, thaw frozen pork in a refrigerator for at least 8 hours to prevent the meat temperature rising above 40 degrees F. You can keep the meat refrigerated for 3 to 5 days before either cooking or refreezing. When thawing pork using a microwave or running tap, you risk leaving the meat in the temperature "danger zone" of 40 degrees F and above. Always cook pork after thawing this way to help destroy bacteria.
Cook Then Freeze
Pork can still be refrozen if previously thawed then cooked. Cool the cooked leftovers as quickly as possible to prevent bacterial growth. Split the food up into small batches and place in the refrigerator to speed up cooling. Using airtight bags or sealed plastic boxes helps keep bacteria out of the meat. Freeze as soon as the food is cooled. Frozen cooked pork will keep in the freezer for up to four months.
Freezing Means Drying
Every time you freeze pork, the liquid in the pork tissue crystallizes. This process breaks cells walls in the pork, letting the liquid spill out and making the meat slightly mushier after thawing. Freezing pork twice means the meat will likely break down and lose more moisture. This means cooking a fresh, juicy pork steak always tastes better than a twice-frozen piece of meat. If you freeze pork twice, consider using the meat in stews or braising recipes to keep it moist.
Cook to Safety
You can safely grill, bake or broil frozen pork. The pork may take around 50 percent longer to cook, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Frozen pork doesn't work in a slow cooker as it lowers the temperature to the "danger zone" for too long. Fresh pork should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F and be left to rest for three minutes before serving, according to the government's Foodsafety.gov website. Cook ground pork, such as pork patties and sausage, to 160 F, as ground meat suits bacterial growth. Pregnant women or elderly people should avoid any pork that hasn't been cooked to 160 F.
- United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service: Fresh Pork from Farm to Table
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: Bacterial Food Poisoning
- Foodsafety.gov: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
- Foodsafety.gov: Checklist of Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
- The Science of Cooking: Is it Safe to Thaw and Refreeze Meat?
- Food Safety and Inspection Service: Leftovers and Food Safety
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images