How to Defrost Meat
Defrosting meat can be a minefield – especially if you’ve never had to do it before. Knowing the fears surrounded food poisoning, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with checking how to defrost meat before you start. Indeed, we wholeheartedly recommend it!
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you could possibly want to know about how to thaw meat and defrosting meat issues. We’ll give you the best way to defrost meat and even throw a bunch of tips and tricks your way for making sure you can thaw meat safely efficiently.
How to Safely Defrost Meat in the Refrigerator
If you have the time available, defrosting your meat in the refrigerator is the best way to go about thawing your meat. This allows for a slower, even defrosting and there are no concerns regarding overheating or specific timings required.
Rough Guidelines for Defrosting Meat in the Refrigerator
It’s important to protect other food in the fridge from the raw meat and vice versa. Thus, the most important part of thawing meat in the fridge is to use the appropriate packaging. If you have stored your meat using a storage bag or with food containers, you can also defrost using these.
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It is also recommended that you use a plate below the storage used, in order to stop any juices or water leaking from your packaging and into the fridge. This makes it easier to clean your fridge and stops any risk of cross-contamination.
If you have a large cut of meat, such as a turkey, it is advised that you use a pan or similar, larger cookware to capture any falling meat, liquid or debris from your frozen food.
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The general guidelines are as follows; for every 5 pounds of meat, you will need to defrost the meat for 24 hours. Thus, a 10-pound turkey would need to defrost over 48 hours (or two days). If you still aren’t sure, feel free to check using a skewer or your hands, to ensure the meat is thoroughly defrosted – and be sure to wash your hands before and after touching raw meat.
Raw meat that has been defrosted in the fridge will last much longer – and can even be refrozen – thanks to this gentle method. You can usually keep defrosted meat in the fridge for another 1-5 days, depending on which meat you’re using.
How to Defrost Meat in Cold Water
If you’re a little short on time but don’t feel fully confident in using a microwave to defrost meat, this is likely to be the best option for you. Defrosting meat in cold water is a great way of ensuring an even thaw, with a little extra help from yourself. Like defrosting meat in a refrigerator, it gives greater leeway in time and greater control against overheating small areas.
Rough Guidelines for Defrosting Meat in Cold Water
Simple and straightforward, defrosting meat in cold water simply requires a storage bag and a bowl of lukewarm or cool water (never boiling). Place your cuts of meat within the storage bag and try to release any excess air, which will allow the water to get as close to the meat as possible without touching it. This will allow the temperature to transfer through contact, quickly and efficiently.
To keep the same speed of defrosting, change the water every 30 minutes or so, as the water will naturally get colder, the longer the frozen meat sits in the bowl, making it less effective. Generally, it should take roughly one hour per 5 pounds of meat you wish to defrost. Thus, 10 pounds of meat will usually take 2 hours to defrost using the cold-water method.
Meat that has been defrosted using this method will need to be cooked immediately. However, once cooked, the shelf life of your meat will last just as long as it would, had it never been frozen (usually up to 3 days). Once cooked, you can also refreeze your cooked meat.
How to Defrost Meat Quickly
If you’re in a rush, defrosting your meat in the microwave is easily the best option. This method works best for even cuts which may be placed in slow-cooked meals after defrosting. This is because meat which has been defrosted in the microwave can often be a little tougher, with some uneven spots that may end up being overcooked.
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Rough Guidelines for Defrosting Meat in the Microwave
Before microwaving your meat, you must remove any plastic or foil packaging that you may have used while the meat was in the freezer – this includes any Styrofoam which may have been used by the manufacturer. Using a microwave-safe plate or bowl, place the meat inside the cookware, and close the microwave.
Most microwaves will have a “defrost” option which, when selected, may ask you for the weight of the meat. If your brand does not, be sure to check with the manufacturer’s guidelines, before continuing. As your microwave works, you will need to check the sides of the meat at regular intervals, to check for hotspots. Roughly every minute, quickly check the edges and leave the meat to cool for a few minutes if the areas feel warm to touch, before continuing.
Always remember to wash your hands before and after touching raw meat. Once defrosted, you will need to cook your meat immediately. If you want to refreeze the cut of meat, you will need to cook this first.
Can Meat Be Re-Frozen After Defrosting?
Meat can absolutely be refrozen after defrosting – as long as you follow the right guidelines. Meat which has been defrosted in the fridge can be refrozen one more time without the need to cook it first. However, meat which has been exposed to lower temperatures (via the cold-water and microwave methods) will need to be cooked before being re-frozen.
You should also make sure that your cooked meat is thoroughly cooled before placing this back in the freezer. Don’t forget to wrap up your meat thoroughly before refreezing, to avoid freezer burn on exposed areas.
To defrost cooked meat, we recommend using the fridge and cold-water methods, and these cuts of meat will need to be eaten within 24 hours or being thawed.