Should I Eat It: Lamb Keema Version
November 4, 2020 9:50 AM   Subscribe

Restaurant-bought and refrigerated for 3 days, has been frozen for about 2 weeks. I know lt can be frozen for several months but not re-frozen. So I guess my main concern is whether the restaurant made it fresh or heated it up from large frozen batches. What do you think? How do I evaluate this risk? We've no experience with this particular restaurant but it was well-packed and tasted good.
posted by jojo and the benjamins to Food & Drink (8 answers total)
Best answer: There's nothing magical about food safety of refreezing food. Refreezing food doesn't make the food less safe or more safe. It hurts the texture of the food - especially high water content vegetables - but it's the time the food is unfrozen that matters from a food safety perspective, not how many times it is frozen.

Most Indian restaurants in the UK and USA don't keep large batches of individual dishes - they keep large batches of curry base sauce/gravy and pre-cooked meat and then assemble dishes when they are ordered. I would be surprised if the restaurant kept any more than two days supply of base sauce/gravy and meat, if only to minimize how much space they use in their refrigerator. So, I'd assume the curry is, at most, 4 to 5 days at unfrozen temperatures, even with conservative assumptions.

I'd have no problem with eating that.
posted by saeculorum at 10:02 AM on November 4, 2020 [16 favorites]

If it was okay when you froze it, it's okay now. In addition to some vegetables, as saeculorum correctly notes, the texture of meat can be affected by fresh ice crystals each time it is thawed and re-frozen.
posted by theora55 at 11:10 AM on November 4, 2020

The prohibition on re-freezing meats has to do with the meat's texture, not if it is safe to eat. I have thawed and then refrozen raw meat occasionally when something interfered with a plan to cook the food, and it's frankly difficult to notice a difference in texture. Seafood is more likely to suffer a change in texture than meat, especially cooked meat.

Plus, cooking the meat starts the clock again. If it's been frozen only once after cooking, you have nothing at all to be concerned about.
posted by citygirl at 12:05 PM on November 4, 2020

Best answer: The only thing you need to be mindful of with freezing/refreezing is that it doesn't turn the clock back, just mostly stops it temporarily. If you have leftovers in the fridge for 4 days, which is about my hard limit, and then put them in the freezer, and a month later put them back in the fridge to thaw and leave it for 4 more days, that's about the same as eating 7ish-day-old leftovers, if it took a day to thaw from frozen to 38ish degrees.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:01 PM on November 4, 2020

It's fine.
posted by turkeyphant at 5:11 PM on November 4, 2020

Response by poster: Thanks for the clarification, all. It was very good.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 5:44 PM on November 4, 2020

It was very good.

For anybody else with a similar quandary, I'd suggest that curries are almost a special case in food preservation terms – because Indian cuisine absolutely packs each recipe with ingredients and spices which are themselves preservative. Garlic? Spectacularly effective on its own, kills nearly 100% of bacteria. Peppers, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric? All have anti-bacterial effects. Studies have confirmed that e.g. "Garlic, Turmeric, Fenugreek, Cardamom, Star anise, Red chilli, Coriander and Clove [...] possess broad spectrum antimicrobial activity".
posted by vincebowdren at 2:46 AM on November 5, 2020

Too late to chime in and say you shouldn't eat it, instead SEND IT TO ME because it sounds delicious and I will eat it.
posted by nkknkk at 9:57 AM on November 5, 2020

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