All ResourcesFood safety and security ArticlesTraining TipsCartoonsPostersClient ResourcesFormsFood safety Talkabout VideosOther Media


Thawing food may seem simple, yet if done incorrectly, it deserve to make you just as sick as undercooking food.

You are watching: What method is not approved for thawing foods

How is this possible? Let’s begin by talking around temperature and bacteria.

The temperature peril zone because that food

Bacteria need specific temperatures come grow. Temperatures below 41°F sluggish down bacter growth and keep the bacteria from multiply on her food. Temperatures above 135°F are too warm for many bacteria come survive.

The temperature variety between these 2 numbers (41°F and also 135°F) is the temperature peril zone. It’s called the danger zone since bacteria deserve to multiply rapidly in between these temperatures. One of the reasons we refrigerate and also freeze perishable food items favor meat is to store the bacteria that naturally occurs on that from multiplying to attention levels.

Why you have to never thaw food ~ above the counter

It’s crucial to know that the freezing process doesn’t actually kill any of the bacteria in food. In temperatures listed below 0°F, pathogens prefer bacteria, yeast, and also mold can’t multiply to do food go bad. However, when any component of the food warms up to temperatures over 41°F, the bacteria will certainly be warm enough to multiply again.

This is why thawing foodstuffs on the kitchen counter is for this reason dangerous. When you thaw food this way, its surface ar will thaw quicker than the middle. When the surface has thawed, and continues to sit in temperatures over 41°F, bacteria will start growing. While girlfriend waited for the rest of the food to thaw out, the bacteria could have multiplied on its surface ar so plenty of times that even food preparation won’t do it safe to eat!

To save bacteria from growing out of hand, it’s vital to thaw frozen foodstuffs in methods that keep it out of the temperature risk zone as much as possible. Below are four alternate methods for thawing food the will store your food safe, in order indigenous fastest to slowest.

Method #1: thawing by cooking

This first method is one of the fastest methods to thaw food. It’s specifically what it sound like, thawing her food by food preparation it. This method typically works finest when you’re working with little pieces of food, choose ground or chopped meat. The smaller sized the food preparation area, the better.


Essentially, the function behind this method is to move food through the temperature risk zone easily enough that the bacteria doesn’t have actually time to multiply to danger levels. That’s why it functions so fine with tiny pieces that food or ground meat — the food is able to separate right into smaller piece as the cooks, enabling you to cook it faster.

Depending top top your cooking method, you can likewise use this method with entirety meats. For example, you can use a slow-moving cooker or a pressure cooker to chef a frozen chicken. It might take a while, however it can be done. Be cautious with thawing totality meats during cooking, however. The internal heats increase last, for this reason you can burn the outside of the meat when the within is still thawing.

Method #2: thawing in the microwave

Using the microwave is one more fast method to thaw food. On average, defrosting in the microwave takes about 7-8 minutes per lb of food. Just like the cooking method, microwaves warm up food quickly, which offers bacteria much less time come multiply.


One potential fence to this technique is the microwaved food occasionally heats unevenly. Even on the defrost setting, parts of your food have the right to be cooking while other parts space still frozen. You have the right to combat this by mix the food periodically during defrosting.

This is one reason why microwaving entirety food items is not recommended. If that heats unevenly, the exterior of the food might be cooking while the within is growing bacteria.

Microwaving is appropriate for small amounts of food, or food that will be added into a larger dish later. This lowers the likelihood of getting half-thawed food. For instance, if you were making shrimp gumbo, you could thaw shrimp in the microwave and then add it come the rest of the soup. This way, the shrimp can continue to chef in the stew and also it’s not a difficulty if some parts of shrimp didn’t completely thaw.

Method #3: thawing in cold water

This technique typically takes 20-30 minute per pound of food and also requires part planning and preparation. Cold water thawing is supposed to keep the surface ar of her food cool sufficient that bacterial expansion stays slow, enabling the food come slowly, safe thaw all the means through.


Unlike the an initial two methods, you will certainly not be food preparation the food as you thaw it, for this reason it’s necessary that you save the temperature the the water continuously at or below 70°F. You need to refresh the cold water every thirty minutes or so.

One way to save the water cold without having actually to continuously watch over it is to fill a bowl v cold water and also leave the tap to run over the food as it thaws. This does need a lot of water, but it will store the surface ar temperature of your food from growing bacteria too rapidly.

If friend can, keep your food in its original container or in a plastic, resealable bag to protect your kitchen sink and also counter from germs.

Method #4: thawing in the refrigerator

This is by much the safest technique for thawing, particularly when thawing entirety food items. It likewise takes the longest lot of time. Depending on the type of food you room thawing, five pounds the food can take 24 hrs to thaw.


While this an approach definitely takes part planning ahead, over there are plenty of upsides to thawing her food this way:

The refrigerator keeps the food safe from bacterial growth the whole time the thaws.You won’t should keep watch end the food.If you decide to adjust the meal you had planned, you have the right to put the food directly earlier into the freezer without needing to chef it first. This point is explained in more detail below.

Can friend refreeze food after ~ it’s to be thawed?

As you’ve currently read, germs favor yeast and also fungus can’t thrive at 0°F or below. This means that food kept at or listed below zero technically stays safe come eat indefinitely, yet the top quality of your food reduce the longer it remains frozen.

When water freezes, the expands. When the water molecules in food freeze, they additionally expand, rupturing the cell walls they are housed in. Every time the happens, flavor it s okay lost.

On top of that, as soon as your food thaws in the temperature hazard zone (41°F to 135°F), bacteria have the right to multiply on your food to the point of gift dangerous, even if girlfriend refreeze the food. This is the biggest advantage to thawing food in the refrigerator — the food can thaw without ever entering the temperature danger zone.

You deserve to still refreeze food if friend use among the other three thawing methods, but you should chef the food to ideal temperatures before sticking them back into her freezer. This extra step will kill any kind of bacteria that can have started growing while you to be thawing the food.

How long does food critical in the freezer?

Remember, food stored at 0°F is technically safe to eat indefinitely. But because food quality decreases the longer it remains frozen, the flavor of frozen food is a various story. For that reason, many freezer indict you view are based on when food will be in ~ its height quality, not once it will certainly go bad.

If friend have any type of questions on how long to store food in your freezer, the USDA has a perform of foods and also their encourage freezer times. Because that example, the USDA proposal throwing out frozen chicken ~ 6-12 months in the freezer. The chicken is still safe to eat at 13 months, but it will most likely have small to no flavor.

Be aware that fish and other seafood don’t refreeze and also other common meats. If possible, shot to only cook them once.

You can also check out our leftovers post for references on how long to store food in the freezer.

What about freezer burn?

When food it s okay freezer burned, it way its quality has actually been compromised. Also though it’s technically still for sure to eat, it more than likely won’t taste really good.

If a food item has substantial freezer burn, you may just want to litter it away. If just a portion of the food is burned, you can cut away those portions and also use the rest.

You can additionally follow these tips to help avoid freezer burn in the first place:

Use packaging design for usage in a freezer. these bags and also containers space usually thicker and are design to protect the integrity of the food you placed in the freezer.Remove excess air from within the packaging prior to freezing. Freezer burn happens once the food come into contact with oxygen.Let food cool before freezing it. Not just will this aid prevent freezer burn, it’ll assist keep foodborne bacteria from growing to dangerous level while that cools in the freezer.

See more: Where Is 815 Area Code Located, 815 Area Code

As a last note, food the has been in the freezer for a long time, particularly if it has actually signs that freezer burn, is not most likely to taste great on that own. Yet that doesn’t typical it’s just fit for the garbage can! shot using that in various other recipes prefer stews, casseroles, chilis, etc. The other foods will aid make increase for much less flavorful ingredients.