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Why You Should Stop Thawing Meat in Hot Water

A person holds a pack of frozen meat.
Creativa Images/Shutterstock.com

Dinner is right around the corner, and suddenly, just as your stomach rumbles, you realize that your meat is still frozen. While it might be tempting to toss it in some hot water for a quick thaw, this rapid method might not be your best bet.

Thawing frozen meat in hot water can increase the risk of bacterial growth and, in turn, a foodborne illness.

While you might have seen your parents pop frozen beef or chicken into a sink or large bowl filled with hot water in order to get it cookable quickly, the method has one major flaw: the Danger Zone. If you’re unfamiliar with the USDA’s Danger Zone, it’s the range of temperatures (40-140 degrees Fahrenheit) at which bacteria can grow and flourish.

Now, you might be thinking, “But it’s frozen for most of the time, right?” Technically, sure, but when you place meat in hot water, the outer edges will thaw well before the center. Not only does this mean it reaches the Danger Zone faster than other parts of the meat, but it also means those parts stay in the zone longer as well.

If you can’t thaw meat in hot water, how should you thaw it? There are three ways: refrigerator, cold water, and microwave. With the fridge, you should place your meat inside to thaw it 24 hours in advance of cooking. While this method takes the longest, it’s arguably the safest, and you can even refreeze meat you don’t use when thawing this way.

Vacuum Sealer Machine

A vacuum sealer is a great way to ensure you freeze your meat for optimal freshness.

No, hot water isn’t a good thawing method, but cold water is. Simply place your meat in cold a leak-proof container in cold water and allow it to sit, changing the water every 30 minutes. Your meat should be thawed in roughly two hours.

Finally, there’s the microwave. You can remove your meat from its packaging, and place it on a plate. Then, microwave it at half power for two to three minutes, rotating it every 45 seconds. This should take about five minutes in total.

If you’re a dedicated bulk buyer who freezes their meat, don’t forget that how you thaw it is just as important as how you freeze it.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Assignments Editor at LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
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