Most people worry about the food safety of thawing and refreezing, but as long as it's done right, it's perfectly safe. The only risk you'll take is ruin­ing the taste and texture of the food.

Air exposure is the enemy when food is in the deep chill. Air trapped in the package or that seeps in from the freezer causes the moisture in the food to evaporate-making the food overly dry. Freezer air can also impart off-tasting flavors. Pack foods in airtight containers that are just a bit bigger than what you're freezing (leaving a little room for expansion as the foods freeze) or pack in freezer bags, squeezing out as much air as possible. Meat in plastic-wrapped trays may be frozen as is, but it's not completely airtight. For better storage, transfer to freezer bags or use a vacuum sealer.

When you do thaw food, never do it at room temperature-that keeps foods in the "unsafe" temperature range too long and risks the growth of bacteria that can make you sick. Instead, thaw foods in the refrigerator. Or, if you're in a hurry, immerse sealed food in cold water until thawed, changing the water every 30 minutes to be sure it stays cold. Microwave thawing is safe and works well for high-moisture foods like soups and stews. Skip thawing meat in the microwave, though. Timing is tricky and meat can turn into leather in a hurry-not so good for eating (or refreezing).

Bottom Line: Go ahead and refreeze any food that was packaged well and safely thawed. Repack it airtight and get it back into the freezer within a day.

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