The big thaw – four ways to thaw meat safely

There are several ways to thaw meat. Choose one of four ways recommended by Michigan State University Extension.

We are all more than ready for warm weather after the harsh 2014 winter. With the warm weather comes the big thaw. Speaking of thawing, when you thaw out meat, regardless of the time of year, it is important to do it safely.

There are four ways to thaw meat safely – in the refrigerator, in cold water, in the microwave and by cooking it.

Freezing meat keeps bacteria in a dormant stage but once thawed, these bacteria can become active again. 

Michigan State University Extension recommends one of these four ways to thaw your meat.

  1. One of the easiest ways to thaw meat is in your refrigerator, but it takes some planning ahead of time so that it has time to thaw. Place a plate, bowl or pan under the thawing meat so that it does not drip on other foods. Meat defrosted in the refrigerator can be refrozen without cooking. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that meat defrosted by other methods be cooked before freezing.
  2. Thawing meat in cold water is a quick way to thaw meat safely. Put the meat into a leak-proof bag and then place that bag in cold water. Fill another bag with water and lay that on the bag of meat so the meat doesn’t float. You must change the water every 30 minutes so that it stays cold. Set your timer for 30 minutes when you thaw meat this way. When the meat is thawed you can cook it or put it in the refrigerator to use later that day.
  3. You can also thaw meat using your microwave. Remove the store wrap and foam trays before defrosting in the microwave. Thaw on the defrost setting. Meat thawed this way must be cooked immediately.
  4. Thawing meat as part of the cooking process takes the food a bit longer to cook, but is An acceptable way to thaw your meat safely.

Thawing meat by letting it sit out on the counter is not safe because as the meat thaws, bacteria and viruses begin to grow as the meat thaws. By thawing meat in the refrigerator or microwave, in cold water or by cooking it – you will prevent microorganisms that can make you sick from growing on the meat, causing a foodborne illness.

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