The meat of it

8 Apr

Ever wonder why people say you can’t refreeze meat that’s been frozen once? It’s a burning question, I know. Now I have the answer.

Agri teacher and meat expert Troy Buck explained meat-freezing processes during my interview with him for this week’s feature about the Centerpoint FFA meat processing lab.

Raw chicken

Most meat, like the chicken at the grocery store, is cooled and frozen slowly. Freezing something slowly allows the moisture inside the individual cells to expand and form ice crystals. When slow-frozen meat  thaws, the ice crystals melt and the liquid runs out of the meat. That’s what creates the red-tinged liquid sloshing in the bottom of a meat package.

Most people think the liquid is blood. It’s not, Buck says. The liquid is the moisture from the meat, which means the meat is dry and can’t be refrozen without the risk of freezer burn.

In contrast, meat that’s flash frozen is put into a freezer at temperatures way below freezing so that it freezes almost instantly. It freezes so quickly that the moisture in the meat doesn’t have time to expand or form crystals.

When flash-frozen meat thaws, it retains its moisture. That’s why flash-frozen fish often has a fresher flavor that the so-called “fresh” fish at the butcher counter.

Thank you, Mr. Buck.


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