Are You Defrosting Your Food The Right Way?

According to WebMD I Have Been Doing It All Wrong!

I have been married for 33 years, and for 33 years my wife has told me I was defrosting food the wrong way.  

Of course, she wasn’t doing it the correct way either; but after 33 years I know better than to point that out.  WebMD recently published an article with the do’s and don’t’s of defrosting food.  

Below is a summary of the WebMD article.   

Don’t: Thaw food on the counter.  Of course, I already knew not to thaw food on the counter because of the dog (she particularly likes steak).  WebMD says that it’s a bad idea to thaw on the counter because when frozen food gets warmer than 40 degrees for more than two hours it enters the “danger zone” for bacteria.  They didn’t mention the dog issue.  

Don’t: Believe that if the center is frozen it’s okay.  As soon as any part of frozen food gets warmer than 40 degrees, you are putting yourself at risk.  While the center may still be frozen, the outer layers of food may be warmer than 40 degrees.  I didn’t know this, and I know my bride doesn’t either.  

Do:  Thaw in the fridge.  This takes more time but ensures that the food will never get warmer than 40 degrees. Of course, if you are like my family, you may need to make room in the fridge for food you are defrosting.  Here are a few suggestions – don’t make room in the fridge by taking out foods that need to be refrigerated (I have done that and gotten yelled at).  The best thing to do is look for food with expired labels (there are always a few of those if you look closely).  In my house, that usually makes plenty of room. 

Don’t: Thaw food in hot water.  According to WebMD, this is “bad” because of that pesky 40-degree issue!!  Of course, hot water is a favorite technique of my wife.  Now I just need to figure out a way to let her know that we shouldn’t defrost in hot water without getting yelled at or taking responsibility for actually cooking the food. 

Do: Thaw in cold water.  Okay, hot water is bad, but cold water is…good?  According to WebMD, there are “cold water” rules.  The food must be in a leak-proof bag or vacuum packed.  And you need to change the water every 30 minutes.  And it will take a really long time.  If this is your method, I recommend calling in for take-out and putting the food back in the freezer for another day.  

Don’t: Be stupid and use unconventional thawing techniques.  I have to confess…I have been stupid.  Some of the dumb ideas I have tried, which are apparently “bad” include dishwasher thawing, outdoor in the sun thawing, pool water thawing, and treehouse thawing. 

Do: Thaw in the microwave.  Good to know all of my quick thaw ideas weren’t bad.  

Don’t: Use a slow cooker.  My family doesn’t own a slow cooker, so I never tried this.  If we owned one, I am confident I would have used the slow cooker to slow thaw.  Apparently, the food spends too much time at more than 40 degrees without cooking.

Do: Use an instant pot or pressure cooker.  I don’t even know what these items are and if shown one, I don’t think I could identify what it is.  Here’s my suggestion, if you are thinking of using either an instant pot or a pressure cooker, call Uber Eats or Delivery Dudes and order in.  These cooking utensils seem like too much technology for the kitchen. 

Do: Cook without thawing.  I am the king of cooking frozen food.  By cooking, I mean grilling (I never use the oven – I am not 100% certain I know how to turn it on).  But, grilling frozen food works every time.  It just requires a little bit of patience. 

I have found that having a glass of wine and some cheese and crackers while “cooking frozen food” takes care of the impatient issue. Hopefully, you find the WebMD suggestions for thawing food as useful as I have.   

Happy food thawing…

Mark Sunshine

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