The Big Thaw: How to Properly Defrost Meat


When I go to the grocery store, I like to stock up on different types of meats that I can throw in the freezer
for future meals.  I also try to prepare extra meat when I cook, so that I can freeze half of it for a quick
meal at another time.  I always make sure to defrost the meat properly.

It is very important to know how to correctly defrost your meat to ensure safe cooking and to
retain the meat quality. Here are some tips on thawing and cooking frozen meat.

There are basically 3 safe ways to defrost meat:

In the refrigerator:

As long as the refrigerator temperature is between 34 and 40 degrees, thawing in the refrigerator will be safe. Put the meat on a plate or pan to catch any drips. After thawing in the refrigerator, ground meat should be used as soon as possible. Once meat has been frozen and thawed, it will deteriorate more rapidly than if it had never been frozen. Whole meat cuts (chops, roasts) will remain useable for another 3-5 days in the refrigerator before cooking. Meat that has been defrosted can be refrozen without cooking but some quality may be lost.

In cold water:

Meat can be safely thawed in cold, not hot, water. Be sure to thaw meat in a leak proof package or bag. Submerge the bag in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes so the water stays cold. It is important to keep the meat out of the food spoilage temperature range of 70 degrees to 100 degrees. After defrosting, refrigerate and cook promptly. Unlike meat thawed in the refrigerator, meat thawed by the cold water method should be cooked before re-freezing.

In the microwave:

Meat can also be thawed safely in the microwave, although it may be more difficult to retain meat quality, especially if the microwave power is set too high. Remove the store wrapping and foam trays before defrosting in the microwave. Thaw on low power so that the microwave energy penetrates to the center of the meat. Most microwave ovens have a “thaw” setting and may suggest an amount of time and turn schedule to prevent loss of meat quality. Meat thawed in the microwave should be cooked immediately after thawing.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you have other tips you would like to add, we would love to hear them!

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