Busy people should thank no other than the inventor of the freezer, which makes it possible for food to have a longer shelf life. As such, it offers convenience for those who are fond of home-cooked meals despite a hectic schedule – just bring out the food, slam it in the pan, wait for a few minutes, and it is good to go. But of course, it’s never that easy as the burden of defrosting usually takes not just minutes, sometimes even hours.
If you’re very mindful and usually organized, you won’t have any problems allotting time for defrosting. But if you’re a busy bee who seems to wake up at the last minute, this process is very time-consuming – this results to hordes of unsafe food defrosting techniques that you initially thought were fine as long as these get the job done. This is very important because we’re talking about health, which is something that can never be replaced. That said, here are some of the common defrosting mistakes that may be putting your life in danger:
Using Warm Water
Remember the time when you needed to head out for a quick trip to the mall or a meeting, but you forgot to transfer the meat from the freezer to the fridge? It has happened to us one way or another, and so, we come home mortified upon finding out that we still have something rock hard to cook. Common sense: it’s only fitting to pour hot water on something frozen in order to hasten the thawing. Wrong! Although it will get the job done pronto because basically, the water will melt the ice away, this is a big no-no, according to the United States Department of Agriculture guidelines on food safety.
It is best that food that’s taken out of the freezer remain out of warm temperature, or 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because the bacteria in the food that was present before freezing could rapidly multiply once exposed to that dangerous temperature zone. What does this mean for you as the one consuming it? This only translates to food-borne illnesses. If you’re really in a hurry or are just too hungry, microwaves have the “Defrost” option for a reason and which is a safer bet than using hot water.
140-Degree Fahrenheit Trick
However, if you’re really into a rush, you can do this trick at least for small cuts. If you happen to have a proper thermometer, heat water on a pot until it reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Place your small cuts, like a chicken breast, onto a Zip-lock and submerge the plastic to the water for thawing. Wait for about 10 to 12 minutes and don’t leave it longer, or bacteria may soon multiply. This is way faster than thawing it out in the fridge, but always remember to not do this with bigger pieces of meat like a whole chicken.
Aluminum Pan Myth
If you Google defrosting hacks, the supposed use of an aluminum pan pops up in most blogs. As per others who have tried the trick, it does work and is by far faster than just leaving your food to thaw on other surfaces. Kitchn’s Christine Gallary tried seeing what the hype was about: she placed frozen 2.5-thick pork chops each on a plate and an aluminum pan. The former took about 1 hour and 45 minutes to fully thaw while in the latter, only an hour.
However, according to USDA, exposing your food out in the open at room temperature for even only 20 minutes can double the bacteria! The secret here is to place your food on an aluminum pan and shove it in the fridge and not on the countertop to avoid contamination. That way, you’ll defrost it in no time and have cleaner, safer food.
Out in the Open
There are many people who just leave their frozen food out on the counter, some even on the kitchen sink, to thaw while they do chores or watch TV. Busy moms may think they are multitasking with this “hack” but the only ones multitasking here are the bacteria present on the food. Food, especially raw meat, should never be left out on the counter at room temperature for more than two hours because bacteria will only thrive and proliferate more.