Thawing frozen food
Thawing frozen food may be a bit more complicated than you thinkIf you have a freezer full of cuisine, knowing how to defrost it all is essential. However, if you don't perform the right technique to take the chill off of your fare, you could become the victim of food-borne illness. Fortunately, thawing frozen food is fairly easy, and just requires a bit of time.
Thawing in the Fridge
Letting your fare warm up slightly in the refrigerator is one of the safest methods of defrosting, but it is also rather time consuming. You'll need at least 24 hours to allow your cuisine to warm up; maybe even longer for large turkeys and other cuts of meat. For instance, large pork or pot roasts or even thick steaks can take quite a while to get to the optimal cooking temperature.
Place your item in your fridge and allow it to warm up a bit for at least a day. Once your item is thawed, it can likely stay safe in your ice box for a little while. Red meat cuts, such as steak and lamb chops, will usually stay good for three to five days in the fridge after they have defrosted. Additionally, turkey, chicken, seafood and ground and stew meats will last a day or two.
You can also refreeze cuisine that has already defrosted; however, its quality may be a bit compromised, so it may not taste as good as it would otherwise.
Keep in mind that certain parts of your fridge may warm the items up faster than others. Also, a fridge that is set to 40 degrees will defrost your fare quicker than one set at 35 degrees would. Therefore, you'll need to base your defrosting time on the temperature of your fridge.
In the Microwave
Defrosting your items in the microwave is quick and often handy for those in a hurry. However, using this technique can also be unsafe if you aren't careful.
Using a microwave brings temperatures up into the "Danger Zone," which creates optimal conditions for food-borne diseases to occur. Therefore, you must cook the items immediately after defrosting takes place. If not, you could become sick after eating the fare.
You should also avoid holding such partially cooked fare, as it may transfer bacteria to your hands and cause you to become ill. Instead, use utensils, such as tongs, or plates to place the item where it will cook.
Additionally, only refreeze items you have defrosted in the microwave if you completely cook them. Placing raw items in the freezer again could result in becoming ill upon ingestion.
With Cold Water
You may think that defrosting your items with hot water makes sense; however, doing so is actually dangerous. Rather, use cold water instead. Although this method is faster than using the refrigerator, it requires a good amount of attention.
Place your item into a leak-proof bag or package, then place it into a bowl or other large, deep container. Cover the item with cold water and allow it to soak for 30 minutes. After this time, drain the bowl and refill will fresh water. Repeat this process until your item is defrosted.
The time your item takes to thaw depends on its weight. Naturally, the bigger the product, the longer it will take to defrost. Smaller packages of meat usually take about an hour to defrost. Bigger items, such as whole turkeys, often take about 30 minutes per pound.
Cook your item immediately once it is completely defrosted. If you choose to refreeze the fare, it must be cooked first.
You can always cook items from their frozen states, if you don't have a chance to defrost them. However, doing so takes longer and may change the way the they taste.
Thawing frozen food isn't hard to do; however, performing the technique properly is essential in keeping you safe.
United States Department of Agriculture: The Big Thaw -- Safe Defrosting Methods -- for Consumers