When cooking with frozen meats, there is one rule that everyone should follow to keep themselves safe from food poisoning – defrost your meat safely. Frozen meats contain harmful bacteria that are left dormant when frozen. Thawing meat incorrectly can reactivate dormant bacteria and lead to serious foodborne illnesses like Salmonella and E.coli poisoning.
Meat that is thawed unevenly, too quickly, and at very high temperatures runs the risk of reaching danger zone levels. Danger zone levels are the temperatures at which bacteria will reactivate and multiply on meat. When this happens, the meat requires immediate cooking and cannot be refrozen.
Defrosting meat is a serious process that may leave you wondering if you are doing it right. Don’t worry, there are three ways to defrost meat that will keep you safe.
Meat Defrosting Tips and Tricks
When it comes to defrosting meat, these are a few tried and true methods you should always use:
1. Refrigerator Thawing
One of the most convenient ways to defrost frozen meat is by removing it from the freezer and placing it in the refrigerator. Red meats, poultry, and seafood all thaw safely with refrigerator thawing. This process is slow and gradual, often taking as long as 24 hours. This is especially true for ground meats and poultry.
- Set Your Temperature: To thaw your frozen meat, you must ensure that your refrigerator’s temperature is set between 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Store Your Meat: Keep your meat in its original package or separate it into a resealable plastic bag to prevent the meat’s liquid from dripping on other food.
- Monitor Its Progress: Watch the meat, make sure there are no extreme temperature changes to your refrigerator as this may compromise the defrosting process.
2. Microwave Thawing
Microwave thawing is the fastest way to defrost frozen meats. When defrosting frozen meat with a microwave, your meat may cook slightly, unevenly, and will reach danger zone levels. Keep a constant watch on it.
- Remove Its Packaging: Take off the original packaging and place the meat on a microwave-safe plate.
- Get Your Settings Right: Set your microwave to the correct defrosting setting, keeping in mind the same setting will not work for every kind of meat as they defrost at different durations and temperatures.
- Watch Your Meat: Start your microwave and keep a constant eye on the meat. You may need to flip the meat multiple times and use a meat thermometer to make sure it is thawing equally all over.
3. Cold Water Thawing
Cold water thawing is another quick way to thaw meat. Each pound of frozen meat used will take 30 minutes to thaw. Meat thawed this way can reach danger zone levels, so cook it immediately and do not refreeze it.
- Always Use Cold Water: Get a bowl and fill it with ice-cold water.
- Repackage Your Meat: Transfer the meat to a resealable, leak-proof, plastic bag. Once this is done, submerge the bag in water.
- Keep Adding Cold Water: With meat that is larger than 1lb, add cold water to the bath every half hour that the meat is submerged until it is fully thawed.
Final Thoughts from USHEALTH Group
Each of these approaches to thawing your frozen meat will keep you safe while cooking. As long as you follow these procedures, you need not fear cooking with frozen meat! Happy cooking!