There are a number of foods purchased
in a frozen state for most of us, including vegetables, fruits, meats,
processed foods, prepared items, and more. Handling these foods properly
as they thaw is of great importance in order to retain the quality of the
food, as well as to avoid possible contamination.
The best way to thaw a frozen item is
to remove it from the freezer to a refrigerator. It should be left in its
wrapping, placed in a shallow container, and allowed to thaw, taking as
much time as necessary. However, the reality is that many times you will
need to speed up the process in order to meet the demands of the evening's
dinner. When this is the case, there are two alternatives that can be
employed, depending upon both the nature of the item being thawed and the
amount of time available to thaw it.
First, you can place the well-wrapped
item in a container and set it in a sink. Turn the cold water on and allow
it to flow over the food constantly, until it is thawed. Very large items
will still take a long time to thaw, but it is crucial to keep the
temperature of the item below 4oC (40oF) as much as
possible, both to avoid creating an environment that would favor the
growth of pathogens and to prevent the loss of quality often associated
with improperly thawed foods.
Or you can place it in a microwave,
using the defrost setting or lower power. This is most effective for foods
that are small, thin and relatively uniform in composition. It is not the
best way to thaw meats, since the uneven thawing could destroy the tissue
of the meat, causing a significant loss of flavor and moisture in the
meat, once it is cooked. Foods defrosted in the microwave should be cooked
immediately after they are thawed.
It is not ever a good idea to simply
remove an item from the freezer and place it on a counter or anywhere else
at room temperature in order to thaw it more quickly. It is also rarely
advisable to cook foods from a frozen state, unless directions from the
manufacturer specifically state that it is acceptable to do so.