Sooner the egg products or poultry; cooked or raw meat start defrosting and rise to a temperature above 40 °F, sooner the bacteria those were probably present before freezing may start multiplying and leave your food item unhealthy.
Perishable food items should not be thawed at the counter or with the help of hot water and should rather not be left at normal room temperature for more than 2 hours. There are safer techniques to thaw food:
- Refrigerator Thawing
The key here is a good planning as certain food items require more number of hours for getting thawed. A large piece of frozen turkey requires a minimum of 24 hours every 5 pounds. Frozen food items of smaller amount like boneless chicken breasts and a pound of ground meat require an entire day to thaw. The food item takes longer time to thaw in a refrigerator which is set at 35 °F than the one set at 40 °F.After this method of thawing, food items such as stew meat, ground meat, seafood and poultry becomes safe for cooking for an additional day. Read meat cuts such as pork, lamb, steaks and chops can additionally accommodate safety for 3-5 days. This food can be refrozen again without cooking if quality can be compromised.
- Cold Water Thawing
This is a faster method than refrigerator method but it requires a little more attention. The food item in a plastic air tight bag or a leak-proof one is submerged in cold tap water. Using hot water may heat the outer layer of your food upto a temperature where unhealthy bacteria may grow. Also, the item may absorb water and you might end up having a watery product. To ensure that the water remains cold, change the water every 30 minutes. Using this method, small chunks of frozen meat, chicken, turkey or any poultry item can defrost in an hour or lesser time. Defrosting per pound of larger items may however take 30 minutes of defrosting time. Cooking the meat needs to be done immediately and any last minute plan change shall allow refreeze the cooked food only.
- Microwave Thawing meat
This is the speediest method of all. Adjust your microwave to “50 percent power “or “defrost” as per the manual while defrosting. This is done to ensure that outer edges don’t become cooked while the remainder is frozen. If the package is in pieces, separate those as soon as the food item thaws. Cooking the chunk of meat or poultry needs to be done immediately and any last minute plan change shall allow refreezing the cooked food only.Holding partially cooked items is not good as the bacterial presence shall destroy your food.Foods thawed in the microwave should be cooked before refreezing. All cooked food must be kept with in a temperature range of 140-160°F during serving. Cooked food should not be left out at normal room temperature for a longer period and the left overs should be refrigerated in a covered shallow container for a healthy preserving.