Tilapia is the third most popular fish to eat, however, if you thaw more than necessary, you wonder if you can refreeze tilapia and how to do it safely.
Yes, you can safely refreeze cooked or raw tilapia that was properly thawed in a refrigerator. Other thawing techniques do not go well with the repeated process of freezing. Moreover, ensure to use good packaging for refreezing your tilapia in the freezer.
Tilapia, like other fish variants, is delicate and demands gentle handling. We have listed all the advantages and side effects of refreezing tilapia in this article for your ease.
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Can You Refreeze Cooked Tilapia After Thawing?
Many people love tilapia because of its mild flavors. As inexpensive seafood, it is consumed widely across the globe. However, like other fish, tilapia is prone to perish very quickly. You might prefer storing it in the freezer for future use, and it is the safest option.
Yes, it is safe to refreeze cooked tilapia thawed in a refrigerator. According to USDA, refreezing any fish that thaws in a refrigerator is perfectly safe. But avoid keeping the tilapia at room temperature for more than two hours. If this limit exceeds, it can longer refreeze, and you have to discard the fish.
Moreover, before proceeding with the refreezing process, you must wrap the tilapia in high-quality freezer bags to prevent it from getting the freezer burned. Also, if the cooked fish is still warm, do not place it in the freezer directly as it may spoil. Always cool it down, and once it reaches a stable temperature, you can refreeze it.
Can You Refreeze Uncooked Tilapia After Thawing?
It is perfectly safe to refreeze raw tilapia but, it must thaw in the refrigerator as when it is inside the fridge, it is least likely to get contaminated, and you can store it back in the freezer.
However, do not leave tilapia in the refrigerator for more than two days after thawing. Transfer it back to the freezer as soon as possible, and it will remain fresh and edible.
If you thaw your fish on the kitchen countertop, in a microwave, or with cold water, it is better to cook it immediately. By these methods, the fish rises to a high internal temperature which is ideal for bacteria to multiply rapidly. As an outcome, it can no longer refreeze as the tilapia is already at risk of spoilage.
How To Refreeze Tilapia?
Tilapia is versatile seafood and once you take it out from the freezer and thaw, you need to be careful with the handling so that the tilapia refreeze well.
To refreeze the tilapia perfectly, follow the steps listed below for you
- For raw tilapia that thaw on the way back home, clean it thoroughly before placing it in the freezer. It will help the fish keep all its rich flavors while refreezing.
- Cover it in a heavy-duty freezer bag to ensure it remains intact. It will prevent the formation of ice crystals.
- If you have a large amount of tilapia, lay each fish on a tray with wax paper and flash-freeze it for two to three hours.
- When frozen, take it out of the freezer and wrap each separately in good-quality aluminum foil.
- Now, transfer it to a freezer bag to provide maximum coverage to the fish and protect it from freezer burns.
- For cooked tilapia, cool it down before shifting it to the freezer. If you freeze it while still warm, it can spoil very quickly.
- Once it reaches the right temperature, you can vacuum seal the fish. Remove all the excess air out from the bag until it deflates completely. You can use a straw for this purpose if you don’t have a vacuum sealer device.
- Lastly, mention the refreezing date on the bag/container and let the tilapia refreeze for a few months.
How Long Is It Safe To Refreeze Tilapia?
Whether cooked or uncooked, tilapia can refreeze for a decent amount of time if you follow all the safety instructions. When you thaw it in the refrigerator, the tilapia can remain refrozen for up to six months without getting rancid.
It is recommended to vacuum seal the fish before refreezing. Vacuum-sealed fish generally lasts longer compared to other safety packaging. The exposure to air is minimal, and the fish remain in a good state without losing their nutritional value. After some time, the fish might suffer degradation in taste and texture due to the extreme freezer environment. So, it is better to utilize it soon and not keep it refrozen and unchecked.
Also, if you leave tilapia raw or cooked at room temperature for too long, drop the idea of refreezing. Even if you place it in the freezer afterward, it cannot refreeze for a long time and might turn inedible. Thus, it is better to discard the fish as consuming it can cause food poisoning.
Can You Refreeze Tilapia More Than Once?
The short answer is NO!
As tilapia is protein-based, it is vulnerable to deteriorating faster. Freezing it again after thawing might be okay if you do it once, but avoid overdoing it. Inside the freezer, food gets exposed to low temperatures, causing the formation of ice crystals. When you refreeze it one time, the fish already suffers a quality loss and is no more suitable for another round of freezing.
If you refreeze it again, the tilapia might turn mushy, discolored due to freezer burns, and taste awful. Eating it will not be a pleasant experience, and you will have to discard it. So, to save time and effort, you can freeze your tilapia in meal-size portions. It will allow you to thaw only the required amount instead of defrosting the whole together.
Refreezing fish requires extra effort and can remain in the freeze for many months. It is of utmost importance to thaw it in the fridge and not by other methods if you want to refreeze the leftovers. Defrosting on the kitchen counter or hot water may not support the freezing process.
Ensure to store tilapia in proper safety containers or bags for effective freezing and prevent the tender meat from perishing early. If the packaging is not sturdy enough, the fish can lose its texture and flavor and turn dry. You can opt for vacuum sealing for better and long-lasting results.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long can you keep fresh tilapia in the refrigerator?
After purchasing tilapia, you can refrigerate it for one to two days. The sell-by date on the package may expire during that storage period, but tilapia will remain safe and edible. You can use it after the sell-by date if you store it properly.
Why does tilapia turn orange in the freezer?
Usually, imported frozen tilapia gets treated with carbon monoxide (CO). This process makes the fish look fresher for longer as it delays the oxidation of the meat. It causes the fish to turn brown or orange as it spoils.
How can you tell if frozen tilapia is bad?
When frozen tilapia turns bad, it becomes whitish or grayish-brown. You may notice dry flakes or patches known as freezer burns at the edges or over the surface of the fish. It also feels lighter in weight than when you put it into the freezer, a sign that moisture in the fish has evaporated.