Thawing Foods

Thawing Foods

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.

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