Thawing food may seem simple, however if done incorrectly, it deserve to make you just as sick as undercooking food.
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How is this possible? Let’s start by talking about temperature and also bacteria.
The temperature danger zone because that food
Bacteria need details temperatures to grow. Temperatures below 41°F sluggish down bacter growth and also keep the bacteria from multiply on your food. Temperatures above 135°F room too hot for most bacteria come survive.
The temperature selection between these two numbers (41°F and also 135°F) is the temperature peril zone. It’s referred to as the risk zone because bacteria can multiply rapidly between these temperatures. One of the reasons we refrigerate and also freeze perishable food items favor meat is to save the bacteria that naturally occurs on the from multiplying to danger levels.
Why you should never thaw food ~ above the counter
It’s important to recognize that the freezing process doesn’t in reality kill any kind of of the bacteria in food. In temperatures below 0°F, pathogens favor bacteria, yeast, and mold can’t multiply to make food go bad. However, once any part of the food warms approximately temperatures over 41°F, the bacteria will be warm enough to multiply again.
This is why thawing foods on the kitchen counter is therefore dangerous. Once you thaw food this way, its surface ar will thaw quicker than the middle. As soon as the surface has actually thawed, and also continues to sit in temperatures above 41°F, bacteria will start growing. While you waited for the rest of the food to thaw out, the bacteria can have multiply on its surface so many times that even cooking won’t make it for sure to eat!
To store bacteria from cultivation out that hand, it’s vital to thaw frozen foods in methods that keep it the end of the temperature risk zone as much as possible. Right here are four different methods for thawing food that will keep your food safe, in order native fastest come slowest.
Method #1: thawing by cooking
This very first method is just one of the fastest ways to thaw food. It’s precisely what it sound like, thawing your food by cooking it. This method typically works finest when you’re working with small pieces of food, prefer ground or chopped meat. The smaller sized the food preparation area, the better.
Essentially, the objective behind this an approach is to relocate food through the temperature risk zone conveniently enough the the bacteria doesn’t have time to multiply to danger levels. That’s why it works so fine with small pieces that food or soil meat — the food is able come separate into smaller pieces as it cooks, enabling you to cook it faster.
Depending top top your cooking method, you can likewise use this method with entirety meats. For example, you might use a slow-moving cooker or a pressure cooker to chef a frozen chicken. It can take a while, yet it can be done. Be cautious with thawing entirety meats during cooking, however. The interior heats increase last, therefore you might burn the outside of the meat while the within is quiet thawing.
Method #2: thawing in the microwave
Using the microwave is an additional fast means to thaw food. ~ above average, defrosting in the microwave takes around 7-8 minutes per lb of food. Just like the food preparation method, microwaves heat up food quickly, which gives bacteria much less time come multiply.
One potential fence to this method is that microwaved food occasionally heats unevenly. Even on the defrost setting, parts of her food deserve to be food preparation while other parts are still frozen. You can combat this by mixing the food periodically during defrosting.
This is one factor why microwaving entirety food item is not recommended. If it heats unevenly, the external of the food can be food preparation while the inside is growing bacteria.
Microwaving is best for tiny amounts of food, or food that will be added into a larger dish later. This lowers the likelihood of gaining half-thawed food. For instance, if you to be making shrimp gumbo, you can thaw shrimp in the microwave and also then add it come the rest of the soup. This way, the shrimp can continue to cook in the stew and also it’s no a difficulty if some portions of shrimp didn’t totally thaw.
Method #3: thawing in cold water
This method typically bring away 20-30 minutes per lb of food and requires part planning and also preparation. Cold water thawing is intended to store the surface ar of her food cool enough that bacterial expansion stays slow, permitting the food to slowly, safely thaw every the way through.
Unlike the an initial two methods, you will certainly not be food preparation the food together you thaw it, therefore it’s essential that you save the temperature of the water repetitively at or listed below 70°F. You should refresh the cold water every thirty minutes or so.
One way to save the water cold without having actually to continuously watch end it is to fill a bowl through cold water and leave the tap to run over the food as it thaws. This does require a the majority of water, yet it will keep the surface temperature of your food from cultivation bacteria also rapidly.
If girlfriend can, store your food in its initial container or in a plastic, resealable bag to defend your kitchen sink and counter from germs.
Method #4: thawing in the refrigerator
This is by far the safest technique for thawing, specifically when thawing totality food items. It likewise takes the longest amount of time. Depending upon the kind of food you room thawing, five pounds of food deserve to take 24 hrs to thaw.
While this technique definitely takes part planning ahead, over there are plenty of upsides come thawing your food this way:The frozen refrigerator keeps the food for sure from bacterial expansion the entire time it thaws.You won’t should keep watch end the food.If you decision to adjust the enjoy the meal you had actually planned, you have the right to put the food directly earlier into the freezer without needing to cook it first. This allude is described in an ext detail below.
Can friend refreeze food after ~ it’s to be thawed?
As you’ve already read, germs favor yeast and also fungus can’t flourish at 0°F or below. This means that food maintained at or below zero technically continues to be safe come eat indefinitely, however the high quality of her food reduce the longer it stays frozen.
When water freezes, it expands. As soon as the water molecule in food freeze, they likewise expand, rupturing the cell wall surfaces they room housed in. Each time the happens, flavor it s okay lost.
On top of that, once your food thaws in the temperature danger zone (41°F come 135°F), bacteria have the right to multiply on your food come the point of gift dangerous, even if friend refreeze the food. This is the biggest advantage to thawing food in the frozen fridge — the food can thaw without ever entering the temperature risk zone.
You can still refreeze food if friend use one of the other three thawing methods, but you should chef the food to suitable temperatures before sticking them ago into your freezer. This extra action will kill any bacteria that could have started growing while you were thawing the food.
How lengthy does food critical in the freezer?
Remember, food stored at 0°F is technically for sure to eat indefinitely. But due to the fact that food top quality decreases the much longer it remains frozen, the odor of frozen food is a various story. For that reason, most freezer indict you see are based on when food will certainly be at its peak quality, not once it will certainly go bad.
If you have any type of questions on how long to store food in your freezer, the USDA has actually a list of foods and also their encourage freezer times. Because that example, the USDA recommends throwing the end frozen chicken after 6-12 months in the freezer. The chicken is still for sure to eat in ~ 13 months, yet it will most likely have small to no flavor.
Be mindful that fish and also other seafood don’t refreeze and other typical meats. If possible, shot to only cook them once.
You can additionally check the end our leftovers article for references on how long to store food in the freezer.
What around freezer burn?
When food it s okay freezer burned, it means its quality has been compromised. Also though it’s technically still safe to eat, it probably won’t taste an extremely good.
If a food item has substantial freezer burn, friend may just want to throw it away. If just a portion of the food is burned, you can cut away those portions and use the rest.
You can also follow these tips to help avoid freezer burn in the very first place:Use packaging designed for usage in a freezer. these bags and also containers room usually thicker and are design to defend the integrity of the food you placed in the freezer.Remove excess wait from within the packaging prior to freezing. Freezer burn happens when the food comes into call with oxygen.Let food cool prior to freezing it. Not only will this aid prevent freezer burn, it’ll help keep foodborne bacteria from farming to dangerous level while it cools in the freezer.
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As a final note, food that has been in the freezer for a long time, particularly if it has actually signs of freezer burn, is not most likely to taste good on its own. Yet that doesn’t average it’s only fit because that the garbage can! try using the in other recipes prefer stews, casseroles, chilis, etc. The other foodstuffs will aid make up for less flavorful ingredients.