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Three ways to defrost meat safely

Anyone who cooks knows the feeling – arriving home
only to discover that the meat for dinner is still in the freezer.

“Before running out for fast food or ordering a pizza, remember that you have several ways to defrost meat safely,” said Kathy Walsten, nutrition educator with Kansas State University Research and Extension.

Thawing meat on the counter or in the sink is not one of those methods, she added. Instead, the safe approaches are:

  • In the microwave oven, with the meat in a microwave-safe dish to catch the juices that might escape while thawing.

“Immediately after thawing, you must completely cook meat defrosted in the microwave oven,” Walsten warned. “Thawing meat in the microwave starts the cooking process, but doesn’t cook the meat long enough to destroy bacteria. So, don’t hold the meat over for cooking later.”

  • In an airtight bag submerged in cold water.

“You need to change the cold water approximately every 30 minutes, so the meat continues to defrost safely,” nutritionist said. “The amount of time the meat requires to thaw depends on its size. A 1 pound package of meat may take one hour or less, while a 3 to 4 pound piece may need up to three hours to defrost.”

  • In the refrigerator on a plate or bowl that can catch the juices as the meat thaws. Neither raw meat nor its juices should ever come in contact with other foods in the refrigerator.

“Again, the amount of time necessary to defrost the meat depends on the size of the frozen piece. Ground meat, cubed meat and steaks may thaw in a day,” Walsten said. “Larger pieces, such as roasts. may take up to two days to defrost in the refrigerator.”

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