Can chicken soup be frozen twice?

I froze chicken soup right after making it, then defrosted it. Is it safe to freeze it again?

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dymnyno
dymnyno March 28, 2013

I have done it. I think that it is ok as long as it is soon rather than later.

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ChefOno
ChefOno March 29, 2013

Multiple freeze / thaw cycles are not a safety issue.

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Linn
Linn March 30, 2013

Chef Uno, wouldn't the safety issue depend on the product being thoroughly reheated? I have always avoided multiple freeze / thaw cycles for two reasons. First because of the safety issue, but second because reprocessing can cause product degradation.

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ChefOno
ChefOno March 30, 2013

Think about freezing as putting an item in suspended animation (because, with only very minor exceptions, that's exactly what freezing does). Bacteria grow slowly < 40F, not at all < 32F so safety is determined by total accumulated unfrozen time.

The general rule for leftovers is 4 days under refrigeration. It doesn't matter if that's 4 consecutive days or 1 day thawed, a week in the freezer followed by 1 day thawed, etc. The goal is to prevent a buildup of bacteria to the point where they could become an issue.

It's always a good idea to reheat leftovers, frozen or not, to 165F before consumption but it's not a necessary step, just a secondary precaution. For example, eating a cold 4-day-old piece of fried chicken or slice of pizza is perfectly safe. Reheating -- or, technically, re-pasteurizing -- has another advantage in that it resets the 4-day counter by destroying any active bacteria present. In theory, given proper times and temperatures, one could keep a freeze-thaw-reheat-freeze cycle going indefinitely.

Food quality is a different issue although a much more minor one than most of us have been led to believe. Freezing causes damage on a cellular level and repeated freezing will cause increasing damage due to moisture loss. But the damage is minor, on the order of 5% or so, which is all but undetectable in most foods. In this example, chicken soup, so much damage has already been done to the meat and vegetables by cooking that a few freezings shouldn't be a cause for concern.

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Linn
Linn March 30, 2013

Appreciate the explanation. Thanks!

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ChefJune
ChefJune March 31, 2013

The short answer is yes, if you bring it to a boil (and cool down) before refreezing.

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