How to Thaw Meat?

If you are a meat chef, then you know that thawing meat is one of the most common steps while dealing with any meat before preparation. Sometimes, you realize last minute that you need to cook meat and you use hot water to thaw your refrigerated meat.

Sometimes you take the meat out of the fridge and accidentally leave it on the kitchen counter all day long, and come back home to find it thawed. But are all these domestic methods safe to thaw meat and make it safe for consumption?

We are afraid that that is not the case. Sometimes, especially perishable food, is left in the open to be thawed- in that case, the number of bacteria present on the food begins to multiply at room temperature (which was not the case when stored in a fridge.

Wrongly thawed food can also result in a number of foodborne diseases and illnesses. So here in this blog, we will discuss how to thaw meat, in detail. And list some of the best ways in which you can thaw meat. 

There are three standard ways in which you can thaw your meat

1. Refrigerator Thawing

Refrigerator Thawing is one of the lengthier methods to thaw meat. You will need at least a day or two for this type of thawing. Large meat like turkey would require 24 hours per 5 pounds of weight.

While smaller items like chicken breasts or ground meat would take one full day. Two things to keep in mind while thawing meat in the refrigerator are-

  • Some parts of the refrigerator are colder than the other parts.
  • A refrigerator set at 35° will take longer to thaw food than a refrigerator set at 40°.

After thawing, some items like poultry, ground meat, stew meat, seafood, etc. could stay safe for another day or two before you actually cook it.

While some other food items like beef, pork or lamb roasts, chops, and steaks, etc. can stay safe for consumption from 3 – 5 days. When thawed in a refrigerator, you can re-freeze the food again, but there will be some loss of quality of meat.

2. Cold Water Thawing

This method is a faster process than refrigerator thawing. However, it requires more technique and method to get it right. At all times you need to make sure that the meat is in seal proof or plastic wrap.

If there is any hole or inlet, the bacteria from outside may introduce itself into the meat making it unsafe for consumption. Also, the meat can absorb water from any leakage point and thus results in an overall watery meat product.

This process will require you to submerge the plastic wrap (meat and all) in cold tap water. And change the water every 30 minutes or so, and allow the meat to thaw on its own time. Small packages of around 1 pound can be thawed in around 1 hour. Likewise, larger packages can take a longer time. 

When thawed completely, the food must be immediately cooked. Take note that this food cannot be refrozen once thawed. Although, you can refreeze it after you have cooked it.

Also read: Five foil packet grill recipes.

3. Microwave Thawing

When thawing food in a microwave, it is recommended to cook it immediately after it has been thawed. Because while thawing, some of the food (especially the outer layer) gets warm and starts to cook. And holding up slightly uncooked food may allow the bacteria to regrow.

Always cook, grill, roast, or fry meat immediately after it has been thawed in the refrigerator. 

4. Cook Without Thawing

If there is an emergency, you can always cook meat before thawing or straight out of the freezer. A cold cut block of turkey or any poultry can easily cook without being previously thawed. However, it will obviously take 50% more time than regular cooking. Also, this cold, non-thawed meat is not ideal to achieve golden crispy skin or even a perfect sear. But it is still an option for desperate times. 

Note: Do not spend non-thawed meat in a slow cooker. Too much time taken in a slow cooker can make the meat unsafe to eat.

So here’s all that you need to know about how to thaw meat. So go ahead and try it out and let us know about your experience in the comments below.

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