Food safety is a serious subject. I am passionate about preventing food borne illness. I have been teaching the subject to restaurants, hospitals, schools, dietary managers, nursing homes and at the college level since 1991. I am a Food Safety expert.
This is the launch of a series of food safety articles.
The first subject is on 4 Safe Methods of Thawing Foods.
There are 4 safe methods for thawing food. Following one of these methods can help prevent making your family and friends sick with a food borne illness.
1. Thaw under refrigeration.
This takes some planning. Sort out your refrigerator so you have a designated drawer on the bottom of your fridge to hold raw meats.
If you want to defrost a whole 3 pound chicken, it will take about 4 days to thaw. You need to plan a place where it can do so safely. All thawing meats should be positioned so they are not dripping onto any foods below them. Place them in containers to catch thawing juices.
Store food according to:”Swim, Walk, Fly”
- Ready to eat foods on top
- Things that swim (Including oysters, clams etc. If it comes from the water, it is considered a “swimming thing.”
- Things that walk around (On hooves and feet and have fur or hair like pork, lamb, beef, or Ostrich.)
- Things that walk around but are ground up, like ground pork or ground veal or hamburger. These get cooked to a higher temperature than steaks, chops or roasts.
- Things that fly ( Chickens, ducks, squab, quail, and even though turkeys don’t fly, they also fall into this category)
- This is based upon internal cooking temperatures which will be explained in another post. For now remember and practice
- “Swim, Walk, (Ground-up Walk),Fly”
So what happens when you don’t have the time?
2. Thaw under clean drinkable water that is 70°F or less, and either running or changed frequently.
A bowl in the sink with cold water, but not hot, is fine for thawing a package of chicken for dinner. As long as you change the water about every half hour. If water logging is a concern, place the item in a zip lock bag and place that in the water.
The water should be changed every 30 minutes.
This is not a method to use while you are at work. Why? Because the water needs to be changed every 30 minutes or lightly running so the water is exchanged as thawing occurs.
Never thaw in the sink for longer than 4 hours! That is the amount of time it takes any bacterial colonies to grow to dangerous levels.
Never, ever thaw on the counter or just left in the sink. This is a very bad and risky practice.
Keep you eye on the product, it will thaw faster than you think it will.
3. In a microwave as long as the item will be cooked immediately after thawing.
My concern here would be the quality of the item. I can’t think of anything that benefits from a run in the microwave.
But, as long as you cook the item as soon as you finish nuking it to thaw, this is considered a safe method.
Be sure to clean and sanitize the inside of the microwave after you finish thawing.
4. You can thaw food as part of the cooking process.
The best examples here are frozen vegetables into soup stock, frozen french fries into the oven or fryer oil and frozen burgers going directly onto the grill.
Again, your call on the quality issue of cooking meats from frozen. I find the texture isn’t as nice than if you thawed it under refrigeration which is my thawing method of choice.
So there you have it. 4 Safe methods to thaw foods.
This information is from ServSafe® an educational division of The National Restaurant Association (NRA). These are the best practices that are used to train food handlers in all restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and dietitians.
I have a dual role with the NRA to both teach and administer the exam for ServSafe®. Food safety is a passion of mine. No one should ever suffer an illness from food you eat.
Learn how to prevent such things from happening. Become advocates for your own food safety. If you see a bad practice, speak up!
Implement good food handling practices every time you touch food.
It really is that important.
Please let me know if you have any questions!
- Debunking Myths About Food Safety in the Home (mamanista.com)
- Is Your Food Safe?? (thedaintydietitian.wordpress.com)
- National Food Safety Education Month (joeyfortman.com)
- Safe Food Handling Tips (enfamil.com)
- National Registry for Food Safety Professionals Talks Turkey with Holiday Cooks (prweb.com)
- Food Safety Mythbusters! (rolemommy.com)
4 thoughts on “4 Safe Methods for Thawing Food”
This was a very well written informative post my friend 🙂
Choc Chip Uru
Chef Pamela is the queen of food safety. One caveat, however, that is NOT our refrigerator!
Good points. Many people don’t realize that food thawed in the microwave must be cooked immediately.
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