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Where I live, I have to travel a bit to get octopus. The octopus they sell in the store is imported frozen, and thawed in the store. Sometimes they don’t have it, or the octopus they have is not thawed yet, so it can not be cut. Then I have to go home empty handed. They also sell whole octopuses in frozen form there, but that is way too big for one meal.

So I thought about whether I could buy a big one frozen, thaw it at home, cut it up and refreeze it in separate pieces. I reckon it’s safe, but I’m curious whether it’s considered to affect the quality negatively.

I have searched online, but most sources I find either assume that all meat is the same, or all seafood is the same. I thought maybe octopus was different, since many people consider it to be better when bought frozen, unlike pretty much all other meats. Therefore, maybe refreezing also would be less harmful to taste and texture. Do anyone have specific advice about octopus? Other solutions are also welcome. I guess chopping it up in frozen form would be impossible without specialized equipment? I’m talking about a regular home freezer.

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    I can't speak about octopus quality as I've never refrozen it, however you don't have to completely thaw it to cut it. You can let it partially thaw just enough to cut it, then back in the freezer. It's actually much easier to cut that way.
    – GdD
    Aug 1, 2023 at 15:55
  • Thank you. Does only partially thawing food before refreezing normally solve the problem people associate with refreezing food? I’m not so much of a foodie myself, I just know that food-conscious people normally advice against (completely) thawing and refreezing.
    – Balthazar
    Aug 1, 2023 at 19:41
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    In addition to @GdD comment, you can also use a toothed blade to cut it. Frozen meats are often cut with a hack-saw blade or a band-saw commercially, so a fine-toothed blade like a serrated ham or bread knife might work. Obviously, if you went down the hack-saw route, you would want a blade that is cleaned of any paint and/or oils that might taint the meat.
    – bob1
    Aug 1, 2023 at 21:58
  • Thank you. It would be nice to keep the tentacles intact, which I don’t think I could do with a hack-saw when it’s completely frozen. But then again, maybe that doesn’t matter, the tentacles will be cut when eating anyway.
    – Balthazar
    Aug 2, 2023 at 8:39
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    @Balthazar Another possibility would be to buy the frozen whole octopus and simply use a butcher's saw to cut it up into smaller portions (while keeping it frozen solid).
    – DotCounter
    Aug 3, 2023 at 16:18

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Refreezing any type of seafood, including octopus, is generally not recommended. Here's why: every time you freeze seafood, ice crystals form. These ice crystals can damage the cell structure of the meat, leading to a mushy texture once defrosted. Refreezing only exacerbates this problem.

Now, with that said, octopus is a bit of a unique case. It's often frozen and thawed multiple times before it even reaches your kitchen, mainly to tenderize the meat. However, keep in mind there's a limit to this process before it starts negatively impacting the quality.

If you absolutely must freeze, thaw, and refreeze your octopus, do so with caution. Thaw it slowly in the fridge, cut it into manageable portions, and then refreeze quickly to minimize the formation of ice crystals. But remember, there's no guarantee the texture and taste won't be affected.

A better solution might be to cook the whole octopus after the initial thawing, even if it's more than you need for one meal. Once cooked, octopus keeps quite well, and you can freeze the cooked meat in portions for later use. This way, you're only freezing and thawing once, and you'll likely have a better end result. Plus, having cooked octopus on hand opens up a world of quick and easy meals – from octopus salad to pasta dishes.

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  • Thank you very much. Just to see if I understand this correctly: Are you saying that from the perspective of quality, thawing -> cooking -> refreezing is better than just thawing -> refreezing?
    – Balthazar
    Aug 2, 2023 at 16:19

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