NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Thawing Quick, Quicker, Quickest

Thawing Quick, Quicker, Quickest


             Okay, you don’t have to raise your hand or email in a response, but have you ever left a pound of meat on the counter to thaw? Have you ever run a chicken breast under warm water to thaw?  Sometimes in the hurry-scurry of life we do things we know are not the right choice.

If you answered “yes” to either question, you probably know that you  could be putting yourself at risk of food borne illness.

            When food is warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but colder than 140 degrees Fahrenheit, bacteria will multiply quickly. What if that warm water from the chicken breast splashed on a salad you had sitting on the counter? Now you have bacteria growing in your salad. If you think thawing food on the counter is OK because the center of the food is still frozen, think again. The outer, thawed surfaces will serve as an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.

            For a quick review of food safe thawing and freezing methods, try the following short quiz.


1. What temperature range is safest for a refrigerator?

            a. 34 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit

            b. 41 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit

            c. 56 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit


2. True or False: Temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit can kill bacteria.


3. Which method is safe for thawing frozen foods?

            a. Thawing on the counter

            b. Thawing under cold water


4. What freezes well?

            a. Meats such as beef, poultry, fish

            b. Leftover casseroles

            c. Berry fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries

            d. All of the above


5. What does not freeze well?

            a. Whole eggs

            b. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt

            c. Raw, unblanched vegetables

            d. All of the above

Here are some safe ways to thaw foods:

■ Thaw in the microwave if the food is to be cooked immediately afterward. - This is an easy method when reheating leftovers.  Make sure the food is heated though by stirring or cutting into smaller pieces.

■ Thaw in the refrigerator, but be sure to plan ahead. - This takes the longest amount of time but the least amount of effort.  Thawing 1 pound of raw meat generally takes one day.

■ Thaw under cold running water at 70 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.  Make sure the food is wrapped in a water-tight package such as a plastic bag.  You also can submerge the food in cold water for a maximum of two hours. Fill with new cold water every 15 to 30 minutes.


Answers: 1 – a    2 – False    3 -.  b     4. - d    5 - d.


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