Ever since the invention of modern refrigeration techniques, people have been trying to find ways to preserve food for longer using their freezer. However, when it comes to defrosting frozen food there are many techniques used that are not advisable due to the risk of food poisoning. Here’s everything you need to know about defrosting.
Thawed Food Should Not Be Frozen
As food defrosts, bacteria and other microbes that are naturally present start to multiply. If you freeze the food again and repeat the thawing process, their numbers multiply to further higher numbers, posing a risk of food poisoning. That is why many people get a freezer temperature alarm, to alert them if there were any power outages that caused the contents of their freezer to thaw.
There’s an old method people used in place of freezer alarms, whereby people freeze a cup of water and place a coin on top of the ice. If there’s a power outage, the coin would sink lower. After the power turns on again, the I’ve would freeze on top of the coin, and even though the contents of the freezer are frozen solid, people would know that the food is not safe for consumption.
Thawing: The Slow Method
If you have the time (and inclination) to plan ahead of time, then you should thaw your frozen meats and poultry in the fridge. This method takes a significantly long time, but it is safe because the food stays at cool temperatures throughout the process. There is little to no chance for microbial multiplication.
Some people prefer to thaw food on the countertop because the process is significantly faster. However, as the room temperature rises, there is significant risk of food poisoning. This is why most experts do not recommend thawing your food on the countertop.
If you’re in a hurry, there’s actually a way to defrost meat/poultry/fish that is faster (and safer) than leaving it out on the countertop. Simply fill a container (bowl, bucket, etc) with water and submerged the meat/poultry/fish into the water. Of course, you want to keep meat wrapped tightly in plastic, much like you would find it when you purchase it frozen. To further speed up the process, you may have heard that changing the water every once in a while is helpful, but you can do much better by keeping water trickling into the bowl so that it overflows into a sink. This changes the water in the container and also provides moving water molecules which will help defrost whatever frozen food you have much faster. This method is faster, and is considered safe because the amount of time the food spends at room temperature is negligible. Bacterial growth is not given enough time to rise to dangerous levels.
The important thing to remember about freezing food is that the cold temperature does not kill any bacteria but merely stops bacterial growth. Thawing at room temperature gives surface bacteria time to multiply, so the time spent at room temperature should be limited.