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Freezer defrosted, advice please.

(35 Posts)
Buffybee Mon 12-Aug-19 08:41:54

I need advice quite quickly.
My daughter has just been on the phone and 'someone' has switched the freezer off by mistake.
It's full as she restocked this weekend, chicken, fish, seafood etc. and she was asking if she could refreeze it all.
I've told her that I don't think that she can do but she could cook it all and re-freeze it.
Is that right?

GrannyGravy13 Mon 12-Aug-19 08:43:19

Definitely cook the defrosted items and then refreeze.

dragonfly46 Mon 12-Aug-19 08:45:40

It may not have thawed if she keeps the door shut. Does she have any friends nearby with room in their freezers. It will have to be completely defrosted before she can turn it on again or it won’t get down to -18

crazyH Mon 12-Aug-19 08:48:03

Check with Google. I'm sure I read somewhere, that as long as the food is still icy cold, and hasn't been out at room temperature, it can be put back in the freezer, no need to precook. But, please, please check. Dont take my word for it.

Elegran Mon 12-Aug-19 09:00:24

First phone round friends begging for temporary freezer space, then open the door/lid and check the situation. Try to find out how long the power has been off (cross-question all suspects!)

If the nearer things are still frozen hard, the stuff further from the door is probably still frozen too, so pile things into bags and boxes and get them to friends' freezers as fast as possible, then return and defrost freezer ready to put everything back.

If things are starting to soften, do triage. Three piles - one of things like bread, which can be refrozen, one of things that are obviously beyond hope and have be thrown out, like melted icecream, and one of things that will be fine if you cook them and then refreeze. Then be prepared for a massive cooking marathon.

Are her freezer contents insured? Mine were, when this happened to me, but they need a detailed list of what had been in it, and could ask for "evidence" if she claims that it was full of fillet steak, lobster and caviar, (though they didn't demand evidence for my sausages and garden peas etc) So keep a note of every frozen sprout.

Buffybee Mon 12-Aug-19 09:05:31

I've just rang her now and she says that she didn't know what to do first thing this morning and switched it back on again and the food is pretty much frozen again now.
It's quite a big fridge freezer with three shelves at the bottom.
She said that it was all still very cold but not what you would call frozen.
Now she thinks because she has already re-frozen, she has to throw it all away.
I've told her I think the veg will be ok and as long as she defrosts chicken, tuna steaks etc in the fridge when she uses it and cooks really well, it should be ok. Oh! And don't have the prawns raw!
What do you think?

M0nica Mon 12-Aug-19 09:07:48

I would just switch it back on. The food is highly unlikely to have gone off in such a short time, given that freezers are well insulated and defrosting takes a long time, a fact that anyone who has tried to deliberately defrost a freezer knows only too well

The worst that can happen is that freeflow items will have stuck together and there is a remote chance that flavour or texture may have deteriorate in some other items, like ice cream, but apart from that I can see no problems.

Don't forget Public Health recommendations have to take into account every contingency and people's stupidity and there is always a wide leaway between their recommendations and any possible chance of danger.

Pantglas1 Mon 12-Aug-19 09:13:00

I agree with Monica in that if it was on when it was fully restocked and not been opened since then you can bet it hasn’t defrosted. I’d have switched back on immediately then checked frozen peas after a few hours - if they’re loose not clumped, all’s well.

dragonfly46 Mon 12-Aug-19 09:15:51

My freezer doesn’t work properly if I just turn it back on. It needs to be emptied and defrosted first but it is a very big freezer - floor to ceiling.

Elegran Mon 12-Aug-19 09:35:17

Buffybee I think all will be well. It hadn't got back to room temperature. Nothing had long enough to defrost enough to go off - if they had been in the fridge instead of the freezer, would she have been happy to use them next day or the day after? If so, they are no worse than they wouls have been in the fridge. There is nothing magic about freezing, it is just another method of slowing down or pausing the natural process of things getting older.

Most of the things in the freezer can be well cooked when she gets round to using them. If she has any doubts when she opens them up (appearance? smell?), she can chuck them out then. I wouldn't keep any shellfish, but then I don't like or trust shellfish anyway.

Buffybee Mon 12-Aug-19 09:35:43

Thanks Monica and Pantglas, we've come to that decision between us that as the food was all still very cold, even slightly frozen, then it will be fine.
Although, she's cooking the prawns today, just to be on the safe side and when they h ave the Tuna Steaks to cook through, instead of leaving pink as she usually does.
Thanks dragonfly, I know where you're coming from with the freezer struggling to get down to -18 but as you say, yours is a big freezer, she just has three drawers.
Whew! Thanks for all your help!

Fennel Mon 12-Aug-19 09:41:05

That's happened to me a few times in the past. As long as the freezer wasn't off for more than a ?day or 2 everything was ok to refreeze. Except for ice cream, which separates.

Buffybee Mon 12-Aug-19 09:47:20

Thanks Elegran for the reassurance that all will be well.
She's keeping everything, apart from some Turkey Mince which she's giving to me to boil up for the dog.
Dog will be happy!😊

Farmor15 Mon 12-Aug-19 10:15:31

As resident Gransnet microbiologist (retiredsmile), I agree with all the others who say that everything should be fine, as it takes a long time for defrosting and unless temperature had been above 4 degrees for about 24 hours, no microbes will have grown.

Buffybee Mon 12-Aug-19 10:40:09

Thanks Farmor15, the food was still very cold and we think freezer can't have been off more than about 12 hours, the socket is in a cupboard on a double socket with the dishwasher so we can't understand how it was switched off, she's had guests this weekend and I wonder is one of them (a man) has switched it off 'being helpful' grin. What is it with men and their switching every plug off all the time? I stay with friends and one husband literally follows me around switching off at the plug everything I've used, drives me mad. Any way I digress.
Reassurance from our resident Gransnet microbiologist (retiredsmile) is very welcome. I will pass on to my daughter who by the way, thinks all us wise Grans are great!

pce612 Mon 12-Aug-19 11:29:56

My neighbour lived in Africa for several years and said their freezer often went off in the power cuts; she said that they just left it to re-freeze and no-one ever got food poisoning.
Depends on how long the power was off - has everything completely defrosted? If not, keep the door closed until it re-freezes.
If it is a total loss, claim on the house insurance.

Minerva Mon 12-Aug-19 11:43:34

It happened to me. When I discovered it bread for instance was a bit flexible but still very cold. I used the boost button to freeze as fast as possible and no-one in he family was any the wiser or got food poisoning.

Nanaval4G Mon 12-Aug-19 12:26:49

I had this problem the other day, only I had actually left the door slightly ajar for what must have been at least 24hrs and everything was just a soggy mess, had to bin the lot. Rang my home insurance and there is a £100 excess on freezer contents so didn't bother. It's now had a good clean and as I was thinking of changing to a combined, frost free fridge freezer have not yet refilled it.

Twopence Mon 12-Aug-19 12:33:56

Tip for the future - freeze a small pot of water then put a coin on top. If power goes off and water melts completely the coin will sink to the bottom. If the freezer partially defrosts then freezes again, as with a power cut, the coin will be part way down the pot of water so you can judge whether the food will be spoiled. Useful if you go on holiday and you are unaware there has been a power cut in your absence. Hope this explanation makes sense.

dragonfly46 Mon 12-Aug-19 12:38:08

Good idea Twopence

GabriellaG54 Mon 12-Aug-19 13:06:19

I'd bin the lot. Better safe than sorry.
Claim on insurance.

GreenGran78 Mon 12-Aug-19 13:07:29

If you have a power cut keep the fridge/freezer door closed and throw a duvet over it, if you think it is likely to be off for long.

GabriellaG54 Mon 12-Aug-19 13:07:57

What an excellent idea Twopence 👍😁

grandtanteJE65 Mon 12-Aug-19 13:12:31

I would advise her to be careful with the fish - it's probably better to throw it out. Meat that has defrozen must be cooked before re-freezing. Frozen vegetables will probably be quite all right if they are frozen again.

The someone who turned off the freezer needs to be prevented from doing so again. A piece of duct tape over the plug will prevent it being pulled out by mistake, and a piece over the on/off switch if there is one, should do the same.

jusnoneed Mon 12-Aug-19 13:15:29

To help stop people turning switches off I always put a piece of sticky tape over the switch, press it down so that the switch cannot be pressed off. Easily removed when needed.
An elderly lady I helped out was very pleased when I suggested she did the same as her husband ,who had early start of dementia, would go around turning switches off - twice he did it to the freezer.

Foxyferret Mon 12-Aug-19 13:45:36

I have written on all my plugs in black permanent marker so it clearly says “freezer”. My mum has done the same as she has a lot of multiple plugs.

jocork Mon 12-Aug-19 14:05:57

A couple of years ago my power went off while I was on holiday. It was still off when I got home and looking at what had recorded from the TV I knew it had been off about six days so everything had to go. My excess on the insurance meant I couldn't claim for anything and as both freezers were uprights, the leakage into the horrible 'flowtex' carpet smelt terrible. After soaking up the worst with old towels I had to keep the back door open during the day for quite a while to dry everything out and get rid of the smell! In the end I never put one of the freezers back on as I realised I was storing stuff I'd long since forgotten, and lots of old bread and other low value stuff. I now shop more carefully and plan better and I must have saved a fortune in electricity by only having the fridge freezer on and not the small stand alone freezer.
Recently I accidentally left the door ajar overnight but I shut it as soon as I noticed and although things were a bit soft they hadn't completely thawed so I kept everything and so far so good - no illness, just slightly altered texture in the re-frozen icecreams, all gone now though!

Buffybee Mon 12-Aug-19 14:48:04

Good idea putting duct tape over the plug switches and labelling the plug 'freezer', I will do that myself and pass on the brilliant Gransnet advice to my daughter.
Thanks again everyone!

Elenkalubleton Mon 12-Aug-19 14:50:16

You can refreeze anything,except fish and ice Cream ,this told to me by someone who owned a freezer shop.

Buffybee Mon 12-Aug-19 15:00:06

Thanks Elenkalu, there was only some tuna steaks and prawns and she's going to cook them today.
No icecream, it was mainly meat and some veg.

Bijou Mon 12-Aug-19 17:22:47

I once inadvertently didn’t completely close the door of my freezer overnight. The thermometer I keep at the front registered 6 degrees and goods at the front were still very cold and those at the back were still frozen but there was a lot of frost which I brushed off and promptly shut the door and turned up to maximum. I don’t eat ice cream so no problem there.

arosebyanyothername Mon 12-Aug-19 18:16:22

All good advice above. I think frozen food probably partially defrosts more than once on its way to us anyway.
During re-stocking in supermarkets for example

glammagran Mon 12-Aug-19 19:13:16

The fuller the freezer the more likely it is to remain cold. I’ve done the same once and just refroze it all. Can’t remember if it was winter or summer though. We lived.

Saggi Tue 13-Aug-19 07:17:52

If it’s not been 12 hours it’ll be fine. After that ... cook it.

Granarchist Tue 13-Aug-19 09:54:38

sniff test. I look after a house abroad that often has power cuts we know nothing about. The icecream regularly defrosts and refreezes. the owners happily eat it - no deaths in over 20 yrs.