There are four common methods to safely thaw frozen food! Learn what these methods and be safe! December is Food Safety Awareness Month and thanks to my friend C.J over at Food stories, I was reminded of the fact that December is Food Safety Awareness Month. Food safety is one of my pet rants, especially since I happen to be a trainer and proctor with National Registry Of Food Safety Professionals . I am planning to do a four-part series on food safety all through this month, so stay tuned and come back ! Ok, I will not be giving you a mini lesson here like I do, to my students, but just some safe tips on how to thaw frozen food. According to CDC ( Center for Disease Control) food-borne illness affect roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people). Of these, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of food borne diseases. One of the main causes of food borne illness is improper handling of food. Not to alarm anyone, but given the stats, ensuring that we safely thaw frozen food may not be a bad idea!
Safely thaw frozen foods with these methods.
Refrigeration : Transfer the food to be thawed from the freezer to the fridge part of the refrigerator. It will slowly and safely thaw. Some points to remember are to never place the frozen food directly on a shelf in the fridge. Always place the frozen food in a shallow dish and then place in the fridge. Remember that when the ice melts, it will become water so you need a shallow dish to collect it or you will have frozen food( meat) juice all over your fridge which could pose a hazard ( see picture on left). Also remember to place the frozen food on the bottom shelf, reason being : you do not want any juice dripping from the top shelf on the bottom. This picture depicts how you should not thaw frozen food in the fridge.
Cool running water : Another perfectly safe way to defrost food or safely thaw frozen food is to run it under cool running water. Notice the key words here are cool and running. If you use hot water, the food will defrost quicker, but you run the risk of letting the bacteria multiply since bacteria thrive in warm temperature. An easy way to do this is to put the frozen food/ meat in a bowl in the sink and fill it with cold water. Then, leave the cold water running in a tiny stream in the bowl. Just make sure that the drain of the sink is not blocked by the bowl. I do this whenever I need to defrost something quickly and it works great. A colander with holes works great as thawing dish too. Alternately, you could also place frozen meat in a bowl of cool water and change water frequently.
Microwave Oven : You can safely thaw frozen food in the microwave oven using the defrost setting. Do not use the “cook” button. This may cook the food which is not what you want to do. It may also create hot spots and microwave burns in the food and makes it tough and unpalatable. When using microwave to defrost food, plan to cook it immediately after thawing. Use the defrost guide on the microwave to tell you how long to defrost for etc. The defrost setting usually estimates time by pound and type of food.
As part of the cooking process: This is probably the easiest way to safely thaw frozen food, as part of the cooking. When you buy a frozen entrée, notice how they ask you to pop the frozen pie or pizza in the oven and bake. Safe and easy. You can also pop frozen veggies into a hot-pot of soup and it will defrost and cook very quickly. You can toss some frozen chunks of beef into a stir fry and it will defrost and cook nicely as part of the cooking process. I love this method and use it a lot.Well, I can’t use it if I want spice up my chicken before cooking, but whenever possible I use this method. Just make sure you stir the dish if it’s stove top cooking to make sure the food is thoroughly thawed and cooked.
- Do not thaw in hot water.
- Do not let meat sit out and thaw at room temperature. Bacteria multiply at a crazy speed in the danger zone which is 40 degrees F – 140 degrees F ( room temperature is in this range)
- Do not refreeze thawed foods. Use in cooking after defrosting.