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The Big Thaw—Safe Defrosting Methods
There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave.
After thawing in the refrigerator, items such as ground meat, stew meat, poultry, seafood, should remain safe and good quality for an additional day or two before cooking; red meat cuts (such as beef, pork or lamb roasts, chops and steaks) 3 to 5 days. Food thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen without cooking, although there may be some loss of quality.
Cold Water Thawing:
The food must be in a leak-proof package or plastic bag. If the bag leaks, bacteria from the air or surrounding environment could be introduced into the food. The bag should be submerged in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes so it continues to thaw. Foods thawed by the cold water method should be cooked before refreezing.
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). Holding partially cooked food is not recommended because any bacteria present wouldn't have been destroyed. After thawing in the microwave, always cook immediately after. Foods thawed in the microwave should be cooked before refreezing.
Cooking Without Thawing:
When there is not enough time to thaw frozen foods, or you're simply in a hurry, just remember: it is safe to cook foods from the frozen state. The cooking will take approximately 50% longer.
Reprinted in part from USDA.
This content is not a substitute for medical advice from a licensed practitioner. Consult with your physician for additional information regarding your needs, and to see if the information in this article is appropriate for you.
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