CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - How many times have you had plans for dinner, but forgot to take something out of the freezer to let it thaw? What do you do? We turned to Chef Jill Aker-Ray for her top thawing tips so that your food is still safe and delicious.
Safe and Effective Thawing Tips (Frozen Foods)
***BEST thawing method is in the refrigerator-• At least 24 hours but no more than 2 days before reheating, place your frozen food/casserole in the refrigerator to thaw.
- Remember that temperatures of 40 degrees to 140 degrees is a danger zone for foods to remain at. These temperatures allow bacteria to multiply and cause foodborne illnesses. That’s why leaving food to defrost on the counter for hours is not safe.
- Speaking of the counter thawing method, let me say again: Perishable foods should NEVER be thawed on the counter, in hot water, or left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- So.....what if you forget to thaw out frozen meat or poultry for dinner and need to “quick thaw?”
A few safe options:
- Sink thaw in cold water, keep food in the package and partially fill the sink with cold water (adding ice as needed every 30 minutes until thawed) to keep it cold.
- Small packages of meat, poultry, or seafood, about a pound, may thaw in an hour or less.
- A 3-to 4-pound package may take 2 to 3 hours. For whole turkeys, estimate about 30 minutes per pound. If thawed completely, the food must be cooked immediately.
- When thawing food in a microwave, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during the thawing process (bringing the food to “Danger Zone” temperatures between 40 and 140 which is ideal for bacteria to grow.
Cooking from frozen, it is safe to cook foods from the frozen state. The cooking will take approximately 50% longer than the recommended time for fully thawed or fresh meat and poultry. It is best to use a thermometer to make sure foods are cooked/heated to above:
- 145 degrees for meat
- 160 for ground meat
- 165 for chicken/poultry