The cold has arrived in the Northeast, and you’re pining for some of your favorite summer flavors. You might be considering thawing some of those farm-store berries you stocked up on in the milder temperatures, but you’ve heard that unfreezing and refreezing foods is dangerous. So is it really safe to thaw and refreeze berries?
The short answer: it’s not dangerous to your health to thaw and then refreeze berries.
The longer answer: when fruits are frozen, the water inside the plant cells expands and bursts the cell wall. This is what creates all that delicious berry juice when you thaw. If you refreeze the berries at this point, unless you drain off the liquid, they’ll form a block when placed back in the freezer. When you thaw them again, they’ll lose some of their structural integrity and become soft of break apart.
This isn’t bad for you; it’s just not as pretty to look at. But as long as you don’t need perfectly formed berries—for example, if you’re making a jam, pie, or smoothie, or even pouring some berries over your oatmeal or pancakes—it’s not a problem to refreeze.
Every time you thaw and refreeze the berries, the fruit structure will degrade a little more, so keep this in mind. In general, it’s a good idea to thaw only what you need and keep the rest in the freezer. If your frozen berries are stored in large containers or bags instead of individually portioned ones, simply allow them to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes, then gently knock the bag against a hard surface, such as a kitchen counter, to loosen up the berries. Remove the amount you need and set it aside. Close the bag tightly and refreeze the rest.