It’s a topic that many people ask about and I must admit I can do it well or not. I know people that defrost using the old method, i.e. get the meat out of the freezer and put it in the fridge overnight or a couple of days (depending upon size). I’m the modern housewife, I have so many more things to do with my time, I dislike housework so I grab out of the fridge and freezer daily to cook and I (most times) incorporate leftovers from the night before in the next main meal.
I am talking about red meat here, chicken is another set of rules altogether. I’ll do a post on that tomorrow (if we have power). Living in a rural area with poor electrical infrastructure and in stormy weather we can lose power so fingers crossed we don’t.
Thaw meat and other foods in the bottom of the fridge whenever possible (as hot air rises so every time the door is opened the warmth coming in goes to the top shelves). The safest method is to place the frozen meat in the refrigerator for a day or two ahead of time. Larger items such as roasts may take longer, about one day for every 5 pounds of meat. Thawing meat slowly in the refrigerator minimizes damage from ice crystals, which helps maintain the food’s quality.
If you need to thaw food immediately, this is best done in the microwave. If you use a microwave to thaw meat, cook it immediately afterward as some parts of the meat may have already started to cook. All microwaves have a defrost button or setting, some like you to weigh it and others like you to tell it what meat type it is. All these have different settings so stick with the manufacturers settings and rules to minimize cooking whilst defrosting (my trick) if on too high or to long or under defrosting, done on the outside but still frozen in the centre.
Thaw under cool running water (with the food wrapped or packaged). Place meat in a leak-proof plastic bag and immerse it in cold water, changing the water at least every 30 minutes to keep it cold.
It is advised that you do not leave frozen food to thaw on a bench at room temperature. This will allow the outside of the food to warm above 5ºC which will allow food poisoning bacteria to grow.
Make sure food is defrosted all the way through before cooking to ensure it reaches hot enough temperatures through to the centre.
Freezing food is a convenient method of preservation, yet it can cause the quality of the food to deteriorate. However, losing taste and texture is not the biggest danger of thawing and refreezing meat. If performed in an unsafe manner, bacteria may develop in the meat, which could cause severe illness. To ensure that your meat is free from trichinella and other parasites, always cook meat thoroughly. (Australia has had NO reported Cases of Trichinella due to our clean premium grass fed meat.) But always cook meat as soon as practical after bringing home from a butcher or defrosting.
Freezing microbes suspends their life cycle, but it does not kill them. When you thaw meat, the microbes can become active and multiply at the same rate as in fresh meat. Under the right conditions, they can multiply enough to cause illness. Freeze leftovers within three to four days, and don’t refreeze any food left out of refrigerator for more than two hours, or one hour if the temperature is above 28 degrees Celsius or 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
If meat develops or has an odour, discard it.
Do not feed off meat to dogs or cats is can make them as sick as it does humans. next blog will be on this practice, something we do not do at the farm.
picture by rodalesorganiclife.com