Thawing Frozen Foods

Reviewed by Wendy Marcason, RDN
frozen meat

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Trying to make dinner but not sure what to do with your frozen pork? Learn a few safe ways to thaw frozen foods.

Thawing is primarily used for frozen meats, poultry and seafood as most vegetables can be cooked without thawing. It is important to follow these guidelines to thaw safely because bacteria can multiply rapidly when left unrefrigerated for more than two hours in the so called temperature "danger zone," between 40°F - 140 °F.

How To Thaw

Here are a few safe methods to thaw frozen foods:

1. In The Refrigerator:

  • Plan ahead because it takes about one day to thaw most foods.
  • Place frozen food on a plate or in any container to catch the juices that may leak.
  • Place in bottom of refrigerator.
  • You may refreeze food that has been thawed in the refrigerator before or after cooking.
  • This is the safest way to thaw meat and poultry.

2. In Cold Water:

  • Put the frozen item in a watertight plastic bag.
  • Submerge in cold water - cold water slows bacteria that might be growing in the thawed portions of the food.
  • Make sure to change water every 30 minutes.
  • Cook immediately after thawed.
  • You must fully cook all foods thawed in cold water before refreezing.
  • This is a faster method - takes a couple of hours depending on weight.

3. In The Microwave:

  • Remove any store wrapping.
  • Place in a microwave-safe container.
  • Follow microwave instructions from the owner's manual.
  • Cook immediately after thawed.
  • You must fully cook all foods thawed in microwave before refreezing.
  • This method is for immediate thawing.

Cooking Without Thawing

If you don't have enough time to thaw food, just remember, it is safe to cook foods from a frozen state — but your cooking time will be approximately 50% longer than for fully thawed foods.

Most frozen vegetables can be cooked without thawing. Cook in ½ cup or less of water, drain and then season with your favorite herbs and spices.


Note:

  • Never thaw on the kitchen counter!
  • Never thaw in hot water!
  • Never thaw outdoors!

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